In triathlon training there is a continuous battle between mind and body. Training is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, good days and bad days. There are amazing training days, where everything seems to be going your way, and there are horrible, tormenting training days, where all you want to do is give up. Through these tough, challenging, and defeating training days, we become stronger, more capable athletes, and even better versions of ourselves. These mentally and physically draining training days allow us, as athletes, to see that it is possible to push ourselves to new limits. However, we must push past the temporary moments of pain and negativity in order to allow ourselves to then learn and grow from them.
It has taken me quite some time to wrap my head around the idea that “bad” training days can be turned into something good. Being a very competitive individual, I have spent so much time being hard on myself, especially when I feel like I am not performing to the best of my abilities. At practice, I used to dwell on every negative thought going through my mind. These thoughts made me think and feel like I was a bad athlete. I had gotten into a regular routine of beating myself up when I was not swimming, cycling, or running at my best. After having an amazing training session, I would get so obsessed with the idea that all of my training sessions needed to be just as amazing. I would tell myself things like, “If I can swim/bike/run this fast and feel amazing doing so, there’s no reason I can’t do this every practice”. However, as smart athletes, we should know that this is never the case. We need time for our minds and our bodies to recover. In my mind, a practice where I was not hitting my fastest swim, bike, or run splits, felt like a step backward.
My coach and teammates at Edge Triathlon have played a huge role in getting me to think more positively about my training and my overall performance as an athlete. Having a “bad” training day does not equate to being a “bad” athlete. Every training session completed, whether it was a good one or bad, contributes to you becoming a stronger, more capable athlete. It is important to remember that a mediocre session is so much better than no session at all.
Tips that have helped me get through the “bad” days:
1) Don’t focus on giving 100% during every training session, as this will only burn you out. Instead, focus on staying controlled, consistent, and comfortable.
2) Don’t compare yourself and your training to your teammates or other athletes. This is very hard to do, especially when you train with a regular group. Instead, look at your own fitness level, where you have made improvements, how you have done so, and where/how you can make future improvements along the way.
3) Mind over matter! I cannot stress how important positivity is. During the tough, gruelling sessions talk to yourself and say things like, “You’ve got this”, and “You can do it”. Even if you don’t believe it first, repeat it over and over in your head and eventually you will begin to own it.
4) Find a group to train with. If there are no training groups around you, try and find a buddy to workout/train with. There are so many benefits to training with a group or a buddy. Sometimes all you need is motivation, encouragement, and support for others when working through hard sessions. Group or buddy training keeps you accountable, and makes training so much more enjoyable!
-Adriana Csanadi, Edge Triathlon