How I Use Self-Hypnosis to Win

This weekend I will be racing in my 4th triathlon of my first season ever. It’s a sprint triathlon hosted by TriFitness and it’s all women. As the days get closer I am realizing I am getting a little bit intimidated that this triathlon is all women. Why? Because I am thinking there is a lot more competition in my age group. And I’m starting to doubt myself, a commonality almost every beginner triathlete goes through. Which is frustrating to say the least. The negative thoughts creep in like “You aren’t ready.” “Your body is too tired.” “That swim is going to suck.” I am a firm believer that your mind controls your body, and if your mind is thinking negatively your performance is going to suffer. How do you change a negative mindset?

One of the tools I rely on to change my mindset is meditation or hypnosis. Back when I was a competitive rider in the sport of eventing (three disciplines crammed into one day: dressage, show jumping and cross country), I was a nervous wreak at shows. I wouldn’t eat a single thing the entire day, I was tense on my horse who could sense my nerves and I clammed up in front of judges. My mother recognized my struggle to control my nerves and sent me to a hypnotist who specialized in sports hypnotism. What happens is she sends you into a deep conscious sleep and talks to you about your competition, giving you visual clues and things to focus on. Basically, it’s a visualization exercise in a conscious sleep or meditative state. Tiger Woods has been known to use hypnotism to visualize every movement and outcome on the course, and look at his performance. She took me through each stage of my competition asking me to visualize what I was doing and how my horse was reacting. The most important part was she asked me to visualize myself winning. Something I have never done before with my half crazy horse.

I went to the hypnotist a week before my competition. The day of the competition I was still nervous to the point where I couldn’t eat anything. But something different happened. I had the lowest dressage score, no jumping penalties and my cross country was excellent. I won that competition and guaranteed a spot in regionals. I firmly believe that hypnotism contributed to my success. Proving the point that your mind controls your performance.

Ever since that competition I have been using self-hypnosis to visualize my triathlon races. I haven’t won my past three races, but I have placed 2/3 times in my age group. Not bad for my first season competing in triathlons.

My schedule leading up to race day is to use self-hypnosis once per day for 3 days. So if my race is on Sunday I self-hypnotize myself Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Just writing “Self-hypnotize” seems a little weird. But it’s not. It’s very simple and easy to do. I lie down, close my eyes and count backwards from 10. I tell myself at each number my eyelids are getting heavy, my breathing is deep and to let any sound or unnecessary thought pass by. Once I get to 1 I visualize my race. What the water feels like, what the transition area looks like etc. and then I start my race. At each step I think of what I am doing, how I am feeling and what my goal time is. The entire time I am thinking positive thoughts to encourage a positive outcome of the race. I see myself passing my competition on the swim, bike, run and crossing that finish line strong.

I am excited for my race this weekend. And I trust that if I dedicate enough time to visualizing my race I will change my thinking into a positive one and see some success.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.



Conquering my First Open water swim and bike session

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I completed my first open water swim and bike session this past weekend. My only swim sessions I have done has mainly consisted of doing some laps in the pool. The only other time I have swam in open water is during race day. Here’s what happened.

The new coach I just started working with asked if I wanted to join a free swim and bike session she conducts down at a local lake. I of course agreed. Thrilled that I would have an opportunity to work with her and meet other triathletes. The session started at 11:00am and I had to bike to meet up with the group at Porter Square at 10:30 am. Now I don’t bike in Boston, like at all. I am scared to ride on these streets with clipless pedals. The thought sends shivers down my spine. But if I want to get into this sport I need to man up and get on my bike (who I have named Missy because she’s a diva, just look at her design. It screams diva.) This session was a perfect excuse to get on my bike and ride.

According to Google maps biking to Porter Square from my place would take 25-30 minutes (4-5 miles). Well knowing my luck and lack of cycling experience it would take my 45 minutes, so I left an hour before the designated meeting time. Enough cushion time just in case I get a flat, loose my balance and fall over or get knocked off my bike by a car. All worst case scenarios but nevertheless I like to plan for the unexpected.

I got my bike ready and packed my bag. Another new experience I had to tackle was carrying a drawstring bag full of my swim gear, wet suit and recovery snacks which made me slightly apprehensive, thinking I would definitely have difficulties keeping that thing on my back. I kissed my half-asleep, half-hungover boyfriend goodbye and told him to wish me luck. He mumbled something back and I was out the door.

I hopped on my bike and I was on my own now. The only guidance I had was my GPS attached to a broken LifeProof bike stand. I have to wrap a rubber band around the top to make sure my entire phone doesn’t pop off the stand. I knew the general direction of where I had to go and my GPS proved handy. I was able to navigate through some pretty quite streets of Boston with ease. (Now I know the best time to ride a bike is a Sunday for that reason.) I arrived to the meeting place with 30 minutes to spare! Success! I locked up my bike outside of a bagel shop and waited inside to beat the heat.

There were a few more riders who showed up and I went outside to introduce myself. We waited for the coach and headed our way down the Minute Man Bike path to Winchester, where the lake was located. It was a really nice easy ride to the lake all of us chatting along the way. When we got to the lake we met up with a few more triathletes and hit the beach.

I brought my wetsuit to test out, because last time I wore it the zipper busted on me….during a race! It was 80 degrees out so I felt a bit silly trying to pull my wet suit on but there were others who had theirs too. But they got into their wet suits A LOT faster than I did. Fail. Finally pulling up my sleeve and zipping myself in I was ready to go.

Now I have never done an open water swim session before. I assumed she would have us start at the beach and we swim back and forth. Something like that. Nope. We had to swim out to a buoy located on the OTHER side of the lake, a good half a mile swim just to get to where we were working out! Great. Did I mention I hate fish. I had never really stuck my head in the water to swim because I do not want to see what’s lurking in that water.

We all got into the water and started swimming away from the beach where it was safe. I got my head in the water and told myself that I am bigger than any of these fish and not to panic. I tried to stay close to the others but they were more experienced, faster swimmers so it ended up being just myself swimming to the buoy. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I just thought about happy things in my head to fight my fear of lake fish.

I made it to the buoy, not dead last luckily. I was a little breathless but ok, and my wet suit remained in tact! Thank god. I have no clue what I would have done if it busted in the middle of the lake with absolutely no kayak, platform or flotation device to hang on to.

Now the real work began. What was supposed to happen was an interval swim with minimal rest in between buoys. We would start floating on our stomachs then swim as hard as we could to the next buoy, rest 20 seconds, do it again for a total of 8 lengths. Ok so not what I did. I took it as swim as hard as I could to the next buoy, sing my ABC’s (about 45 second – 1 minute rest) then swim easy to the next buoy. I targeted 5-6 lengths of alternating between hard and easy intervals. It was hard. Particularly because we had to tread water in between sets, I was literally in the middle of the lake.

After 6 lengths I called it a day, but oh wait, I had to swim half a mile back to the beach by myself. I can safely say the ENTIRE swim session was a workout for me. Which was good I really need to prove to myself I could swim in a lake practically on my own.

I reached the beach and stripped off my wet suit, chugged some chocolate milk and threw on my bike shoes. The bike workout was a similar set up to the swim. We rode on a 6 mile loop doing intervals. So it looked like: 1min race pace, 2min rest, 2min race pace, 2min rest, 3min race pace, 2 min rest, repeat. We were supposed to do this for 36 minutes.

I had my bike computer but it only reads MPH right now because my rear wheel magnet fell off on a race so I have no cadence. I figured my race pace would be somewhere around 20 mph. Fair guess. I ended up tailoring the intervals a bit. I did 1min race pace, 2min rest, 2 min race pace, 2 min rest, 3 min race pace, 4 min rest. I doubled my rest time at the end of the set of intervals. It was a great bike session and even though I was pretty sure I was the slowest I stuck to my work out. I finished at 34 minutes, my legs were a bit wobbly. But my day wasn’t over, now for the bike back home (about 8 miles.) I was struggling just to keep up with everyone else who was probably going 15 mph, really slow. My legs were just so tired.

I managed to get myself home. I was thirsty, tired and starving. I worked out from 9:30am – 2 pm, one of my longest work out days I have done. Looking back at the day I managed pretty well considering I have no experience in any of these disciplines. I conquered my open water, fishy lake fear AND gained confidence on Missy biking through the streets of Boston. Overall a great day. And on top of that the work out gave me an inside glimpse into how real triathletes train. I need to step up my game if I want to get serious and start winning some races!

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Missy!! She’s too pretty for a bike.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.


Motivational Words from The Grind

I stumbled upon this amazing video from another blogger. The visuals and words are so powerful I wanted to transcribe it. It gives me chills every time I watch this video and read these words.


Rise and shine

6am and your hand can’t make it to the alarm clock before the voices in your head start telling you it’s too early, too dark and too cold to get out of bed. Aching muscles lie still in rebellion pretending not to hear your brain commanding them to move. A legion of voices are giving you permission to hit the snooze button and go back to dream land.

But you didn’t ask their opinion.

The voice you chose to listen to is one of defiance. A voice that says there was a reason why you set that alarm in the first place. So sit up, put your feet on the floor and don’t look back because we’ve got work to do. Welcome to the grind.

For what is each day but a series of conflicts between the right way and the easy way. 10,000 streams span out like a river delta before you each one promising the path of least resistance. The thing is you’re headed upstream. And when you make that choice and you decide to turn your back on whats comfortable, safe, and what some would call common sense, well that’s day 1. From there it only gets tougher. So just make sure this is something you want because the easy way out will always be there ready to wash you away. All you have to do is pick up your feet.

But you aren’t going to are you? With each step comes the decision to take another. You are on your way now but this is no time to dwell on how far you have come. You are in a fight against an opponent you cant see but oh you can feel them on your heels can’t you, feel them breathing down your neck. You know who that is? That’s you. Your fears, doubts and insecurities lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out of the sky. But don’t loose heart. While they aren’t easily defeated they are far from invincible. Remember this is the grind. The battle royal between you and your mind, your body and the devil on your shoulder who is telling you this is just a game, this is just a waste of time, your opponent are stronger than you.

Drown out the voice of uncertainty with the sound of your own heart beat. Burn away your self doubt with the fire underneath you. Remember what we are fighting for and never forget momentum is a cruel mistress. She can turn on the dime with the smallest mistake. She is always searching for the weak place in your armor; the one little thing you forgot to prepare for.

So as long as the devil is hiding the details, the question remains is that all you got? Are you sure? And when answer is yes and you have done all you can to prepare yourself for battle then it’t time to go forth and boldly face your enemy. The enemy within.

Only now you must take that fight into the open, into hostile territory. You are a lion in a field of lions all hunting the same elusive pray with a desperate starvation that says victory is the only thing that can keep you alive. So believe that voice that says you can run a little faster, you can run a little harder, and that to you the laws of physics are merely a suggestion.

“Nobody can judge effort. Because effort is between you and you.Everyday is a new day. And every moment is a new moment. So now you got to show them you are a different creature than you were five minutes ago.”

So rise and shine.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.


My legs are mad at me

“I hate you!”

That’s what I can imagine my legs telling right about now. And it’s most likely what other triathletes in training can imagine their legs telling them. I’m learning that as I’m increasing training my legs aren’t very happy. But that’s a good thing right?

I just went home to Connecticut to get on my bike! I haven’t really attempted riding in Boston because it seems too daunting. Boston is great city, according to it’s also a great biking city. I don’t feel that way. There are too many cars when I need to ride (which is usually during rush hour) and not enough bike paths, not to mention I’m clipped into my pedals, which is scary to me. So if a pedestrian were to jump out suddenly I would surely topple over trying to avoid a head on collision.

Anyways, my point is I go home to ride my bike. Which isn’t very often. This past weekend I managed to fit in enough biking and strength work to fry my legs. This is what my weekend looked like:

Strength class am (1 hour)
– The class consisted of high intensity training full of sprinting, lunging, kettlebell swings and single leg work. I was thinking I could totally handle a bike ride in the pm but I was wrong. I could feel my entire central nervous system shutting down as the day went by. I took a nap instead. No biking for me.

Strength class am (1 hour)
Biking pm (1 hour) 20mi 
– I usually don’t do strength sessions back to back but my mother insisted I meet her personal trainer Shaun who is the personal trainer and physical therapist for big hockey and football teams in the New England area (like NFL status). I totally do not regret going! I absolutely loved the session. What I do regret is the pm cycling session with my dad. My legs were fried from 2 awesomely challenging strength sessions and I thought to push it for a bike ride. I asked for flat roads (which is hard to find in CT) and easy pace. I was super slow in the first 30min. My legs were burning! I couldn’t even keep up with my dad who was going 17-19mph. I was at a 15-16mph pace, snail pace. It just really hurt. By the time we hit some down hills my legs felt better, but by the end when I hopped off of my bike I couldn’t walk. Ouch.

Time trials (1 hour) 20k 
– This was my first 20k time trial ever and I wasn’t riding on fresh legs. My legs were definitely talking to me but I felt better than yesterday. The time trial consisted of 13 laps of 1 mile loops by the beach. It was a beautiful day and relatively quite early in the am. My first lap I completed in 1:03, by my last lap I was closer to 3:03. Big difference. My legs were tired and by the time I finished I was just dead. I could hardly push my pedals to get myself home (like 10mph tops! If that.) It just hurt so bad.

My 3 day training session proved to be challenging both mentally and physically. If you could see me now I can hardly sit down or stand up without getting a sharp pain in my hamstrings. I’m just sore. But I do realize I need to increase my volume and intensity at some point if I ever want to get better. So why not start now.

 – Train Hard. Tri Harder.