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.