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Five mental race day tactics to turn you into a triathlon Ninja (part 2)

Posted May 29 2011 10:41am


In this article, you'll learn five race day mental tactics that allow you to become a triathlon ninja, and use your ninja superpowers to push your body outside your comfort zone, physically beyond what you believe to be possible, and into a new level of personal achievement. Sweet. Are you ready grasshopper?

Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #3: Ask Why

A triathlon ninja knows their motivation for doing triathlons.

Some people do triathlons to live a long time so they can see their grandkids.

Some people do triathlons because they were never any good at sports and this lets them be an athlete.

Some people do triathlons because it makes them look good naked.

Regardless of what your motivation is, you need to identify it and know why you do triathlon.

Then, when you're riding up the steepest hill of the race, ready to fall off your bike and puke, you can remember that the whole reason you're doing this is so that you look sexy for your tropical vacation in 2 weeks. Or whatever motivates your ninja heart.

Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #4: Harness Energy

You've probably seen the video game or movie where the superhuman being clutches two hands to their chest, creates a giant ball of fiery energy then releases the burning orb into a crowd of fierce opponents, dispersing the enemy like rag dolls.

A triathlon ninja has those same superpowers.

When you go running up the beach from the swim, harness the energy of the screaming crowds. Feel it. Use it.

When you ride through the aid station, feel the positive energy emanating from the generous volunteers, and use that too.

And as you run, try to smile. This smiling strategy helps significantly because people smile right back at you and cheer you on (whereas nobody really claps much for the triathlete who looks like they're on Planet Hell).

So yes, I'm the guy at the race who's doing the rock star pump-up-the-crowd hand waving as I ride out of transition and yes, that's kinda hard to do when your heart is pumping out your throat, but it's worth the effort when you ride back into transition and those same people give you that energy right back.

Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #5: See Success

Close your eyes.

Can you imagine the feel of the water in your hand during the swim, the air blowing by your cheeks on the bike, and the slap of your foot against the pavement on the run?

If not, you may need triathlon ninja practice.

The best athletes on the planet regularly engage in visualization, in which they close their eyes and imagine everything happening perfectly. This takes practice and imagination, but your mind can be trained to visualize powerfully.

Start with small things, like closing your eyes and feeling the sand on the beach under your feet before the race starts.

Then progress to more complex visualization, such as seeing and feeling yourself successfully snag a water bottle as you fly by an aid station on your bike. If you're really good, you can imagine yourself bringing that aid station water bottle to your mouth and feeling the cool water refresh you. And you know you need a little more practice, or an Alzheimer's screening, if you're having a hard time mentally recalling what an aid station actually looks like.

So what do you think? Can you be a triathlon ninja? You bet you can. Just remember...

Break up.

Dig deep.

Editor's Note: This is part two of Ben's story. You can read part 1 HERE .


Ben Greenfield has been coaching athletes for over a decade from the website , and is author of the modern triathlon coaching manual, "How To Be A Triathlon Coach," at .

Follow on twitter @ everymantri or view latest videos on YouTube .


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