The fifth triathlon discipline.

Mental training may be at least as important as your physical workouts.

Five? I thought there were three – you swim, bike, and then run?

Or maybe you are aware of what’s widely considered the fourth – nutrition. Especially for long distances, if you don’t fuel well, then the rest doesn’t matter.

I think that there should be a fifth.

Mental toughness.

Whether going short or long, our ability to excel is in huge part due to what our mind tells us we can do.

This has been very apparent to me when it comes to indoor cycling. For any ride over 90 minutes, and maybe even just every ride, it seems that I am always equally ready to be done at the end of it. I recently rode just two hours. A week prior I rode 4, and the week before that I rode for 7 full hours. When I did those longer rides, I wasn’t ready to be done at the end of 2 hours – because I knew that I was nowhere close to done. I was just getting started. I was mentally prepared to keep going for a good long time. Nonetheless, when I know I have ‘just’ two hours to ride, I am pretty done by the end of it – tired and so ready to get off the bike. This mind game clearly has nothing to do what my body is capable of and everything to do with my mental state.

I recently swam later in the day than I normally do and it was high school PE time. A teacher was arranging for a game of water volleyball with 4 of the students. She set it up at the deep end so they would have to tread water, but she proceeded to tell them, many times, that it was going to be difficult because they would be treading water.

Well, yes, if you tell them all that it will be difficult, it is going to be difficult. I suppose that there are some among us who are lit on fire when they hear that something will be difficult, but I think that many suffer more from not wanting to take on challenges that we believe will be difficult. I suspect that the students would have been better served if she had just established the game and let it be.

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