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Mittwoch, 22. Juli 2015

Endurance (triathlon) is a mental matter

I do an experiment. No risks involved. 
It is a hot summer in Low Austria, where I am living since over a year. Temperatures in an open rural area around Vienna reach about 40°C, nights temperature are also over 30°C sometimes. I cannot sleep in the night. I cannot train during the day. I cannot train in the night because I am too tired. Heat and cold are the biggest energy thieves for me. And insomnia, of course. I survive using wet towels and drinking water, mineral water or lemon mineral water with honey.
I restarted to run 21 days ago. I mean to run as training. Very difficult and the heat does not make it easier at all. 
In 21 days somehow I've run 153 km. Not quality run, but more quantity run.
I do not find the right motivation, I do not trust myself anymore, I am sleepy, I think too much, I have no real goal and I have a lot of insecurity in front of me.
But somehow .... when I am thinking about running 153 km in 21 days and cycling about 700 km in the same period of time .... this give me hope. Hope to find me again. To "win" me again as I was 10 month ago when all started / stopped actually.
I read my blog and I watch my pictures from different endurance races I did in 2013 and 2014. And this give me courage.
This makes me to remember that probably more than 50% of your success in an endurance race is a matter of mind. Success = to finish, not to be the 1st.
Because an endurance race is different. If you run, cycle, swim or do all three one after another (triathlon on full or half ironman distances) more than short and standard distances accessible for everybody then you do endurance.
And not everybody have the mind for endurance. I always said, despite the fact I public presented "Himalaya accessible", that the Everest is not for everybody. Such as an ironman-distance triathlon is not for everybody. 
And endurance is oft also relative.
Two weeks ago I was cycling with Markus. He told me he subscribed for his first road cycling race, about 50 km with some aggressive altitude difference. We cycled 70 km together but in a slowly pace and with pretty many stops. Markus can cycle, can be fast, but because of lack of technique he needs to stop pretty often. 
I observed him and told him about some tips about a better cycling and I also enjoyed to see he is receptive to my advices and also feels better, but need time for accommodation.
He told me different stories about discussions on forums and how he never find the right advice. I said: If you need opinions, go on forums. If you need advice, go to a coach. The right coach for you or the right person for you who know what you need to know. Ask him/her, take his/her advice and then pay attention to your instincts. It is so, no need to explain why. It is important to know what exactly do you want. If you find out exactly what you want, you will find out the ways to reach that. No desires are coming to us in a stupid way, most of them suit to us, I have no doubts about this.
Back to the affirmation "endurance is relative": a road cycling race for 50 km can be an endurance event for Markus while for me the endurance starts after at least 80 km. 
As I advice him to visualize himself doing the race and reaching the finish in a time under 2,5 hours - he said it is not possible for him at that moment -, he apparently reached the finish line in 2 hours 28 minutes, hurraaaaa!!!! 
This does not mean that you come and say: "Wow, I've run 20 km, I am endurance runner!" For a real endurance runner, 20 km is only the warm up :-). But in sizes of people who just enter the race events world the first races are real "endurance" for them and this is why one of the important aspects is to understand how vital the mind is.
More than "normal" or short distances the endurance - long triathlons, long runs, long adventure wild races etc. - means another kind of pain, discomfort and low energy.
Many endurance sport people know this: "Go easy and become best friend with your own pain because you will need a best friend while racing." And it is so, I experienced this several times (Carpathian Adventure 2009, XMan Oradea 2014 and during the long trekking journeys in the high Himalayas).
And this is a mental matter.
Before an endurance event - doesn't matter if a race or another kind of journey - if we admit an Ironman-distance Triathlon is a journey, not just a race - you have to expect to feel various levels of discomfort. Otherwise the surprise will be overwhelming. 
And you need exercise. This means also time. Longer time. Best friendships need long time to become the best ones.
Remember that you needed a long time to grow up, to learn speaking, walking, eating, driving, swimming and so on, right?
Everything what needs your mental support needs longer time.
And you need a positive mind, no doubts.
If you start your first triathlon don't forget to remember it is your first. It is not an excuse, it is a fact. You have no history and you do not need to race against the others, but with yourself. Your mind is clear and this is your advantage. A busy mind is an obstacle.
If you ask me, at least the firs time is not a race, it is just a test. You are testing yourself, to want to taste it, to feel, to see if it is for you, if you want to do it again and why. Because "why?" is also very important. 
Along the fact the triathlon is a huge investment - financial, energetic, mental, habits, social/family life etc. - triathlon is a life style, remember this and decide if it is or can become your life style. This is why triathlon became a world wide industry. 
And, without competing, you do not do triathlon, but you swim, you run and cycle. 
(to be followed)
About my experiment:
I want to see how much my mental positive thinking will help me in the next race I start in about one month!

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