A RACE-report from Kalmar Ironman will follow, but first I’d like to take you back to the days leading up to Kalmar with the ambition to inspire other athletes who work consciously on the mental aspects of training and racing.
The following text was written before Kalmar Ironman. Now I want to share it to give an idea of how I was thinking and preparing my self mentally for Kalmar.
3 times 70.3 in 3 weeks – Intense mindfulness
For the season 2017 I had two main races I wanted to complete: Vansbro Triathlon July 1 (1/2 IM distance) and Kalmar Ironman Aug 19. The overall mantra for the season is set to Just for fun – with a purpose*. I want to develop a more solid ability to stay in a relaxed mental mode the days leading up to and during races. One reason for this is the joy it gives me. Instead of feeling anxious and tense I want to sense the joy and contentment a race gives when ”treated right” from a mental aspect. The other reason is that I know it does affect my ability to perform positively when I stay relaxed. Not ”off” or ”fat and happy”, but rather tuned in, prepared and relaxed.
Maybe you could call it Intense Mindfulness. Intense because racing any triathlon distance with some kind of ambitious target is very challenging, physically and mentally. And Mindfulness since the key in his case is being ”fully there” mentally, and this in a relaxed and focused way – with a large portion of contentment in the situation.
For me KBT has been a useful tool in business, not the least in terms of managing my own situation as a leader. And since I build my way of coaching my self in triathlon on my experience from business, it’s been natural to involve simple KBT in handling the mental aspects of racing. Getting aware of what beliefs and mental paths an approaching race triggers is really interesting, and of course a stepping stone towards being able to consciously choose constructive thoughts and thereby positive feelings.
For various reasons I ended up racing the IM 70.3 European championship in Elsinore two weeks prior to Vansbro and IM 70.3 Jönköping the week after. This makes three 70.3 distances in three weeks (22 days to be exact). I viewed the races as follows:
Elsinore – no pressure – really! I just wanted a race before Vansbro since I didn’t want to race the Swedish Championship as the first race for the season. This gave an excellent opportunity to practice “just for fun – with a purpose”. The preparation the days before the race and at site were minimal and not even close two how I usually prepare. Outcome – AWESOME RACE finishing 2nd in my AG and rank 1 of all Swedish athletes. This really gave me something to reflect upon in terms of relaxing vs. overdoing.
Vansbro – race relaxed with the goal to make it to the top 10. I don’t race as an age group athlete during the Swedish Championships, and there are loads of younger athletes that are strong, so I knew it wasn’t going to come easy.
So the aim was to build on the experiences from Elsinore and add some “pressure”. The outcome was great. I was able to swim relaxed, bike steady and perform a solid run resulting in an 8th rank overall. Super happy. I felt that I was “on to something” in terms of handling anxiety and staying “cool”.
Jönköping – push the limits in terms of recovery and, if possible, qualify for 70.3 World Championship 2018.
I registered on site the day before the race – lucky there were a few slots left! I decided to drive the bike course by car in the afternoon, and during that trip I became even more aware of the on and off button – how to switch between “just for fun” and “pressure” just by thinking of my own race as a solo event or as a happening in a context characterized by the presence of competitors and high expectations. By shifting my mental picture back and forth while driving, I could actually sense how the tension in my abdomen and shoulders changes.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve become an expert in this field, but I do sense that I’ve made progress. The three races combined have given me insights and experience to build upon.
Now it’s time for Kalmar Ironman. It’s the full Ironman distance, which I usually perceive as more than twice a 70.3. My ambition is to:
Stay relaxed and get a smooth swim. If I’m out of T1 before my race time passes 1 hour I’m on track. This is in case of nice weather. If it’s windy and rough water the race time becomes less relevant.
Deliver a solid, disciplined bike ride during which I’m able to keep my watts, stick to the nutrition plan and stay tucked down in aero position. I hope to get though T2 just under 5.50 on the race clock since that will give me 3.10 for a sub9.
I believe I can perform a solid run based on my running so far this season. I haven’t had any run session over 21 k, but I think 4.30 should be quite comfortable and I would like to go as fast as close to 3 hours.
My mantra for the race is of course: Just for fun – with a purpose, and I hope I’ll be able to stay in my own race mentally.
If I’m able to finish “Sub9Top10” it would be simply amazing. I e finishing in under 9 hours and among the top 10 of all Swedish athletes. This year Kalmar has the male pro field, so I’m aware it might be quite impossible, but I like it as an inspiring vision for my training.
I hope this post can support other athletes in there strive for mental development – with a purpose.
* First I took quite some time to define the mental mantra that would guide me through the season. “Just for fun – with a purpose” isn’t just a catchy phrase. It’s truly my guide when I reflect on why and how I want to prepare for and complete a race. It reminds me of having fun. It tells me that the way to success goes through having fun. It also grants me permission to have fun! And – it reminds me that there is a purpose for this. Actually there are multiple purposes: Have fun – it’s a purpose in it self. Have fun so I stay relaxed and thus achieve my full potential as a triathlete. Practise having fun – it’s a skill that has to be developed and nurtured. Racing half and full Ironman distance races isn’t pleasant by default… actually it’s rather painful as everyone who’s done it knows. So, if I want to continue grow as and athlete I want to improve my mental skills relevant for triathlon.