Mental Tip From an Ironman World Champion

Our children and grandchildren are back at their homes in Athens and Pittsburgh after their Christmas visit. The house is a whole lot quieter. It’s going to take a while to get the place back in order. All day couldn’t be spent doing post ‘grandkids’ cleanup chores. There’s still time to train despite foul weather.

It has been cold, windy, and lightly raining all day. The shed I converted for indoor training on my bike was perfect for today. For the first time in many years, I have heat in the room where I train.

When we lived in Maryland, for 11 years prior to becoming full time residents of North Carolina, I trained in the garage on the coldest days. It wasn’t heated. It would be as cold inside as it was outside. Having been born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Maryland often felt like the tundra. It was better than Pittsburgh or Cleveland (I’ve lived in both cities), but still too cold for me.

When we lived in Pittsburgh I had heat. In Cleveland, I simply froze since my only option for cycling in the winter meant going outside. But, here in NC I have heat and it felt great.

Fossil fuel is so warm.

Riding on my Computrainer, I watched the 2012 Ironman World Championship. During the show, on DVD, Leanda Cave, women’s winner in 2012, was being interviewed. She talked about how the sport of triathlon, in specific the Ironman distance is such a mental game.

I’ve raced the Ironman World Championship and a number of other Ironman triathlons. There’s a point in such long distance racing where your body is done and your brain must make it continue. When I’ve reached that point, I’ve always been able to continue. Mental fortitude is very different in archery.

In archery, I don’t have to push past physical pain. In archery, I must be able to clear my head. Leanda Cave mentioned this in her interview that is her ability to block out everything except what she was doing at that moment in the race.

Leanda Cave winning the 2012 Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii (photo from Google search images)

When the best archers in the world shoot, their brain activity has been measured. It turns out that the primary wave form just before an arrow is released is an ‘alpha’ wave. The ‘alpha’ wave is the dominant brain wave during meditation or stage 1 sleep. Something I wouldn’t expect during a triathlon, but paramount for peak performance in archery.

Standing inside it wasn’t so bad.

So after I trained on my bike, I practiced archery. Today, shooting from inside my converted shed out toward the target. The wind was howling, it was misty (the rain had eased a bit) and it was cold. The heat still lingered inside the shed and it was comfortable.   I thought about the mental effort needed to complete an Ironman and tried to get a mentally quiet brain for archery. It’s a work in progress as is the post grandchild Christmas clean up.

View of my target (Not River, my dog, the blocks in the distance)