HOW TO PRE­PARE MEN­TALLY FOR THE HARD­EST TRIATHLON YOU’LL EVER DO

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - SWIM BIKE RUN TRANSITION - BY SI­MON MAR­SHALL

THE SAY­ING GOES that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And while the good news is that we now know the sci­ence of why it makes you stronger, the bad news is that this makes ab­so­lutely no dif­fer­ence to the mis­ery you must en­dure to learn the les­son. And therein lies the cruel para­dox of full-dis­tance triathlon. We en­ter will­ingly, we of­ten exit smugly, but the jour­ney in be­tween is lit­tered with phys­i­cal and emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ences so aw­ful that it’s a won­der we ever do it twice, let alone pay over $900 for the priv­i­lege. Sure, there are tem­po­rary mo­ments of plea­sure, grat­i­tude and even a few pedal strokes of squeal­ing de­light, but the most dom­i­nant ex­pe­ri­ence at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship is get­ting bat­tered for an en­tire day by unimag­in­able heat, hu­mid­ity, wind and fa­tigue, all while plead­ing with your stom­ach to hold down what­ever you throw in it. Any­body who tells you that they “love the pain” or “en­joy the suf­fer­ing” is ei­ther a masochis­tic numb­skull or has a dopamin­er­gic re­ward sys­tem that re­sem­bles the sole of a worn-out shoe. Ask any Iron­man ath­lete dur­ing a race about what they se­cretly wish for and it’s usu­ally this: for it to end as soon as pos­si­ble (prefer­ably suc­cess­fully).

If you’re headed for Kona, con­grat­u­la­tions. But, sta­tis­ti­cally speak­ing, you’re about to get your ass kicked. This doesn’t mean you’re go­ing to have a ter­ri­ble race, or even feel de­jected or dis­ap­pointed about your per­for­mance; it sim­ply means that you will al­most cer­tainly be vis­ited by phys­i­cal and emo­tional demons that make you ques­tion (in the mo­ment) why the hell you do this to your­self. The pur­pose of this ar­ti­cle isn’t to dig into th­ese rea­sons. The deeper ex­is­ten­tial rea­sons about why we like to test our own en­durance or the price we pay (lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively) for do­ing so are in­tel­lec­tu­ally in­ter­est­ing, but prac­ti­cally use­less on the start line. Our pur­pose here is much sim­pler:

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