Tell me what to think


Six months ago I volunteered to train with Brenda and Shalem who signed up for LAVAMAN, a triathlon sports event that takes place in Kona. I had no interest in doing a triathlon, I don’t even own a bike, but I love running and I figured -a little swimming and biking- how hard can it be? 

Turns out it’s pretty freaking hard, but I got into it enough that I wished I could race, though unfortunately the registration was closed. So, when the LAVAMAN Liaison contacted me about joining a relay team, I replied a one liner: I’m in. 100%.

I could write a booklet on what I have learned so far about triathlon training, and I could fill many pages explaining the leaps and bounds our bodies have made to accommodate six days of training week after week for months in a row. But what surprises me the most is the mental change. 

From I suck to I can. 
From maybe to absolutely. 
From impossible to done. 

I am no stranger to the mental shift. Many years ago running saved me from my thoughts when lacing up my shoes became a sanity ritual. My mind went quiet, and with each step I found peace on the trail; my ever faithful companion. 

But the mind is powerful beyond measure, and just as it can help you get out of bed to train at the crack of dawn in frigid temperatures, sometimes all it takes is a side stitch, a sore calf, or a steep hill for the broken mental tape to begin: you’re tired, it’s too far, it hurts, you won’t finish. 

Cue the music. 

“I’m unstoppable. I’m a Porche with no brakes. I’m invincible. I win every single day. I’m so powerful I don’t need batteries to play. I’m so confident. I’m unstoppable today.”

Besides my running shoes, music is my must have on the trail. A curated list of songs I turn to when the mind is stubborn. If my brain wants to terrorize me, music reminds me that I do not negotiate with terrorists, the words and the beat send me back to the breath. Step. Step. Quiet. Carry on. 

It was about a month ago when I read the race regulations “NO AUDIO DEVICES ALLOWED. NO IPODS, MP3 PLAYERS, HEADPHONES.” Shit. It must be for safety. So many people racing, the bikers on the highway, the runners on lava, coral, sand. It will be 90 degrees and people need to be alert. OMG. Ninety degrees? Sand? I’ve been training on snow under six layers of clothing. I most definitely cannot do this!

Cue the music. 

“My grandma smiling down on me like woo! That boy’s got bars. Okay. Okay. Yes I do! I say amen and hallelujah, let me testify too. Another morning, a morning don’t let self get in my way. I got my breath, I got my faith, and I remember why I came.”

Runners World Magazine had a whole article on the athlete’s mind. ““Thoughts affect feelings, and feelings affect performance,” explains Jim Aftemow, Ph.D., sports psychology expert in Phoenix and author of The Champion’s Mind. “Change your thinking, and you’ll change your performance.””

Today, for the first time ever, I ran without music and without a partner. Just me, my breath, and the track. Around the third 1200 meters the broken record on the brain piped up. Terrorists will terrorize, I suppose. But at the 800 meter mark my coach looked at me and said you got this, and I thought - damn right I do! And on that last lap my legs were louder than my thoughts. 

From I suck to I can. 
From maybe to absolutely. 
From impossible to done. 

Today I won. 

There is the truth, and there’s the story that I tell myself. I improved 11 seconds on the mile time trial, I can swim a whole mile (turns out I really like swimming), I can train every day no matter the weather, I can go beyond my limits, and that is the truth. Now I have three weeks until the race to make the story match it. 

So tell me, what is your truth? What is your mantra? What do you tell yourself to keep going? 

Comments

Fernanda on Instagram

Translate