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.

@Tri_Girl22

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.

@Tri_Girl22

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQqWKFczmG0#

Transcription:

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.

@Tri_Gril22

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 Bicycling.com 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:

Friday
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.

Saturday
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.

Sunday
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.

@Tri_Girl22

Race Day Lesson #1: Every Second Counts

I just competed in my second sprint triathlon this past weekend and I finished 4th out of 9 girls in my age group. Not bad, not bad at all. But I missed 3rd place by a second, literally 1 second. I finished with a time of 1:08:04 the girl a head of me finished with a time of 1:08:03. I was that close to a podium finish. I was mad, and I wasn’t mad at the girl who beat me by 1 second, I was mad at myself. Where did I lose that 100 milliseconds? Where could I have gone faster? Pushed myself harder? My mind was racing with so many emotions that I didn’t know what to think. I let myself be mad for a while but looking back at the race I really did awesome. Especially with how my race day started….

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View from my ZipCar @5:50am. Hello, Boston.

My wonderful support crew (aka. my boyfriend) was to be designated driver for my race. But, alas my driver fell threw. He decided to go out the night before and had one too many drinks. He didn’t get home until 3am and we were set to leave at 6am. For those of you who think 3 hours of sleep is enough to sober up, it’s not. I couldn’t get him to get out of bed to save my life. I made the executive decision to get a ZipCar at 5:30am. I booked the car online and ran, literally ran, to the garage to pick it up.(Guess I am warmed up for the race, I thought to myself.) I got back at 5:50am, kicked my boyfriend’s butt into gear and loaded up my stuff. I really thought this would throw off my good mood and ruin my race mentality but I didn’t let it get to me. I just thought to myself “Good thing I’m pretty awesome.”

Fast forward to the race, and my swim went really well. I was probably inspired from Rick and Dick Hoyt, the famous father and son duo, start the race off. This triathlon was their 1,100th race. I was absolutely blown away by the love and dedication of one man to his son. It was amazing to see Dick pull his son in a inflatable boat, the man is 73 years old! I hope to be his age and racing in my 1,100th race.

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The Hoyt’s getting ready to start the race. So happy I was able to see them! #Inspirational

After the Hoyt’s took off I had to wait awhile for my wave to start. I entered into the beginners wave and it was the last wave. So there was a lot of waiting. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with a wetsuit! My past two attempts with my new wetsuit failed on me completely, my whole top filled with water and it was tough. This time I was kitted out with a bright neon suit (I partially wore it so my really hungover boyfriend could spot me easily.) The water was 83 degrees and half way through I thought to myself, ‘This isn’t refreshing at all.’ Yuck, I exited the water and ran to the transition area.

My bike was awesome. It was a 9mi route with rolling hills. I crushed it. My average speed was 16mph and my fastest speed was 33mph. (Not bad for hardly riding my bike this month…actually at all.) I felt good.

I transitioned out to the run quickly and hit the road. It was only a 3mi run and I told myself “Just run hard.” I let my legs get used to carrying my weight again after a fast bike ride and stepped up my pace a little to about 8:30min/mi. Average pace, but I decided to take it slow until the last mile. That’s when things got interesting…

I have a tendency not to turn around and see who is closing in on me. As I hear people approach me from behind I let the anticipation and nerves drive me a little harder. I hit the last mile and hear fast footsteps, I don’t turn around. I assume it was the really fit 40 year old woman I just saw passing me. I feel someone grab my arm and say, “Come with me.” I glanced down at her calf and she’s 24, it was one of my age group competitors. She picked up her pace and I picked up mine. We were running side by side for the last mile. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is what it’s all about. To be truly racing.” I was filled with adrenaline, but I was still conscious of my heart rate. I wasn’t wearing a monitor but I was breathing heavily enough to judge it was rising fast. I kept the pace with her for 4min then she backed off. I kept my pace (about 7:30min/mi) and ran until I saw the gate leading to the finish line. I had about .25mi to go and the girl pulls up next to me and she pulls up fast. I pick up my speed and it’s an all out battle to the finish line. She pulls ahead of me just a touch, probably 3 seconds ahead of me. And I think to myself as she closes in on the finish line, “Let her go she has it.” She crosses the finish line before I do. I couldn’t tell by how many seconds, I was just so winded I could hardly stand up. I shook her hand and congratulated her.

Battling it out to the finish line.

Battling it out to the finish line.

I just raced my hardest. My competitive spirit was thrilled! I was on a high. It felt awesome to be giving it all I had against someone else. Finding out I lost the podium by 1 second sucked. Like really sucked. It was a wake up call for me. I realized how close you can be to lose a podium finish. I am sure all triathletes (amateurs and professionals) have faced a millisecond loss like I have. I have to remind myself this was only my 3rd triathlon. If I am getting close to that podium now, imagine what I can do in the future! It was that one second, and that second humbled me and showed me I am good at this. I cannot wait for my next race.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.

@Tri_Girl22

Tackling my first Olympic distance triathlon

ImageCompleted my second triathlon this past week! This time it was longer, .9mi swim, 25mi bike and 6.2mi run…and hotter with a ton of hills. I finished 3rd in my age group with a time of 3:12min. It felt awesome placing at a race, even though my age group was abnormally small. But (!!!!!) I accomplished one of my ultimate goals and this is my first season competing it triathlons. I must be doing something right.

My support crew (aka my dad and boyfriend) took a video of me throughout the triathlon. I was surprised to see myself walking through transitions! It really looks like I could have pushed myself more in those transitions and I’m disappointed in that. Granted a few really tough unforeseen events happened during the race:

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1. My wetsuit zipper busted on me! AGAIN! I just bought myself a new wetsuit. The zip starts at the top, thinking this would prevent my zipper from falling down on me like it did last time with my moms wetsuit. Well….about 100 yards into the swim I felt my bare back against the water. I grabbed my zipper thinking it somehow managed to unzip itself upward. Nope! The zipper was peeled open at the top! Completely broken. My whole upper body filled with water. I got really nervous and contemplated my options. Either swim or flag down a lifeguard. I opted to keep on swimming….hey I managed to do it last time my wetsuit busted on me. When I finally reached the beach it took me forever to get my wetsuit off because I was just so tired. My body was radiating so much heat I knew I was sweating hard.

2. It got hot and humid real fast. The sun wasn’t out for my swim, it peaked out of the clouds for the bike ride but as soon as I hit the road running temperatures reached 90! And boy did that slow me down. I never trained in the heat or humidity the season. And for that matter, I never trained in hot weather with so many hills! My pace was slowed down significantly as I went through the 6 miles. At mile 3 I was running 11min/mi with my heart rate way above my lactate threshold level. Super duper slow and behind schedule.

3. Don’t underestimate a race with HILLS in it’s title. I ran Litchfield Hills Triathlon in CT and boy they were not lying about the hills. I thought I had 2 hills on the bike course and maybe 4 small ones on the run. Completely wrong! The bike wasn’t too bad but by the end of it I was tired. I could tell because it took me a while to try to kick my heal out to get out of my clip on pedals (difficult when you’re tired). Then the run had maybe one tiny flat and the rest were rolling hills for 6 miles. Mind you this is all in 90 degree weather.

So looking back at that video, I understand why I walked through the transitions. That race was tough! But the question I keep on asking myself is how can I train so I don’t ever walk through transitions again? I am happy I saw that video because it really put my training into perspective. I need to train smarter and harder.

The Plan: 

  1. Train in heat – So key when I’m doing races in the summer.
  2. Include more hills
  3. Train above my lactate threshold – Training above your lactate threshold for short periods of time is the only way you are ever going to get faster.
  4. Swim in my wetsuit occasionally. (Just to make sure it works!)