Triathlon Psychology



Motivations and training for the goal of completing an Ironman.


Can't beat this for Motivation.

Motivations for Wanaka 2008 :

-have paid my $400 early entry fee to do the 2008 Wanaka Ironman, so that gives me a certain amount of motivation.

-it is a 'crazy' sporting challenge which sounds good to me.

-the event organisation and all the other competitors seem to me like very outgoing motivated people which is enjoyable to be around.

-have only done two half ironman races but like the freedom and solitude of all three disciplines, which can be attained in the build up and during long events.

-the health benefits of being really fit; but at the same time recognising that just to complete it I don't want to create a long term injury.

-to push the body to the limits of its endurance on race day(and in training but rarely), to see what can be acheived.

-it links in with what I want to do on this site, however would have done it regardless of this website.


It is coming into Winter and it feels like I haven't been doing enough training. It is always easy to make excuses as to why we can't get out there so won't go into that list.

The one thing I have been advised which will make up a part of my build-up is to cover the full distances(or close to them), on individual weekends several months prior to race day.

I have had various coaches over the times but don't believe it is totally neccesary to always have a coach. That said, without a coach some very knowledgeable support structure around you will definitely help.

So am asking myself the question about using a coach, but since the goal is only to complete it, will rely on previous knowledge and whatever pointers I can pick up from all sources.

Coaches really do link in with the topic of motivations as athletes often use them as a source of encouragement.

The last coach I had was the N.Z high performance coach(Mark Elliott) back in the Summer of 03/04 and in retrospect he was very good.

So some of the best things I got from it were:

- that he definitely tried to get me to focus all my attention to 'one race'.

This was however part of the reason I gave up on the coach and stopped training full time, as the swim was cancelled in the 'one race' and I didn't have a back up race. Well that and the fact my savings were twindling put and end to the above. His fee was very minimal but felt I wouldn't be able to do justice to the quality programme.

So I think all athletes should have a definite back up race plan to answer the unpredictable nature of competing at natures whim. Even at the highest level there are other events that will gain just as much respect and the rewards that go with it.

-he had good ideas on when to attack in a race and incorporated it into the training which was great.

-another feature which stood out for me was a 3km running time trial every 3-4 weeks to chart progress, which were hard but awesome in that progress could be measured.

Part of the idea to focus on one race so much was not to cause burn-out on the way there.

Would love to have acheived more under his guidance and the best rewards were a 4hr 38min 'half ironman' and a fourth several months after the end of his program, in the Fiji triathlon. This was also a great experience in that we all got to measure ourselves against Peter Robertson on the day.

Have discussed not having a coach as there were several times I made training programmes and followed them based on books from John Helleman's and Dave Scott. Managed to get incredibly fit by making a programme from these combined sources and modifying them slightly with how my body was coping on a weekly/daily basis.

So think I will dig up those old books again and get some sort of training programme on paper.

To complete the above a running coach did voluntarilly make up a running programme for me way back in 1992 which was based on Arthur Lydiard's program(large volume and distance).





Ironman preparation and psychology.


Am going to be relying on all those previous years of training and knowledge, but below is some more on the present.

The three day weekend in Wanaka for the mini- training camp in late November should be a good part of my build-up. A link to this training camp can be found somewhere on the canterburytriclub.co.nz website. Will try to find this link and post it here.

Am sitting in an airport in the North of Spain writing this and contemplating what lies ahead. It might look a bit funny, but I like to do a few stretches and static strength building exercises while waiting for the planes. Stretching is recommended during flying also to reduce the incidence of deep vein thrombosis(DVT), which can effect people who fly due to reduced blood flow etc.

Mentioned in the 'Mens World Champs' events page is the topic of sports psychology. So what do I know about sports psychology? Well I completed the first year course at university and was asked to do honours,(but chose other areas of education). Some knowledge of psychology or the 'study of the brain and its behaviuoral effects'(at least a basic understanding) has been useful. Occasionally I try to think like a bird on my shoulder looking in from the outside(but not often). Also occasionally I like to reassess my morals/ beliefs and if they need to change as the world moves on.

The above paragraph is probably a bit vague, but where I am trying to get to, is that ones own personal state of mind will impact on how they perform in sports or even work/everyday life. Of course you must believe in yourself(self confidence), to achieve at your highest potential. Also it helps to surround yourself with people who share your belief and goals. Have heard many people say how they have people close to them that hold them back or don't believe in their goals, and read this was the case for Peter Reid. To gain power by trying to prove someone wrong such as parents can be done, but it is a hard way to success.

Parents have a powerful influence and may try and set goals for you that are counterproductive to your own. Most of us can only acheive one goal at a time if it requires attaining knowledge and physical ability.

When people say they visualise an event before its completion and even the winning of the event, this is sports psychology. Must say I have only ever done this to a limited degree, but do believe it is useful. Maybe we do it in our dreams, as we often only have an idea of them(dreams) sometimes, when we awaken during them. Thats how it is for me anyway.

Another commonly coined phrase is the feeling of 'being in the zone'. Some people experience this before or during an event/competition. My perception of this is a clarity of thoughts prior to an event. It is useful if this clarity of thought is directed to the sport goal that is most imminent. The other time for me(in the zone) is when time seems to slow down while you are performing at your maximum. This slowing of time could be contributed to a massive burst of adrenalin, which affects certain parts of the brain and it allows one to push boundaries of achievement. Adrenalin bursts could be brought on by your home crowd screaming or directing all there energies on there local favourites, I would say.

Really just wanted to make a short list of the reasons local athletes can achieve what could be described as sub-maximal performance. This home advantage was obvious in the Worlds at Hamburg and my list is as follows:

- better sleeping prior to the event as the body is used to the entire environment, eg. your own bed, food, language.

- familiarity with the course and local climatic conditions,

- host countries often put more sponsor money into their athletes allowing them to reach there peaks without financial strain(saves alot of energy).

- local athletes rightly peak for big events in their own country as the rewards are often times greater.

- I believe the adrenalin surge from the local crowd can bolster performance.

So the opposite of gaining a hometown advantage is saying it is a disadvantage and words used to describe it are 'choking' or 'implosion'. This implosion can be caused by too much expectations of ones self. There are plenty of other mindsets which could hinder achievement, but won't go into that list.

The strongest mindsets will no doubt win through. The next question to a strong mindset is the idea of winning at any costs. Sportsmanship and the use of banned substances come in here.

Thats it for me on psychology.

Have a strong mindset such as focus, determination, consistency and perserverance.....etc.....and don't let it be interupted by trivia.





Breaking through the psychological barrier for going the distance.


Well we survived a 145km ride/journey. It wasn't fast and it wasn't pretty but its a good one to have under the belt.

Have never felt so good after riding such a distance, so added an extra 15km ride soon after we got home to round it up to 160kms. As usual, did a short run after and the legs felt good. Can recall only 5 times before covering a distance of around 140km, but never did the legs feel like going further. The next day we did an easy 30km ride and it felt good. And 2 days later(today), managed a 20km run which was pretty easy to complete, but do have very tired quads now. The best thing is no sign of a niggling injury that slowed me down over the past 2 years.

Having a training partner for the past 2 weeks has been invaluable and the weather in Tauranga has been very suitable for riding; a bit windy at times but very warm. My training partner is an old mate from a running club, back at university. Never did run together though as he was a 400m runner(48sec). So he powered away from me on the hills, of which there was plenty. I used the excuse that it was the time trial bars and my running shoes that slowed me down. Have cycle shoes and clips down South N.Z, but it was a bit costly to buy new ones for a few rides in the North Island..

Think eating the right diet helped with this ride. It is the first time I have felt confident that finishing the upcoming ironman is in my grasp.

Based on previous experience will aim to average 30-32km/hr for the 180kms, so as to actually run the marathon. The course for 'Challenge Wanaka' is flat for the first 100km then gets into a few more rolling hills so 30-32km/hr should be a good solid target(the speed range to work in is for different weather conditions). Never have I held back before on the bike, but will for my first ironman as have plenty of time to use any spare energy on the run(at least thats the plan).

My old mate from university days and myself(right) about to head out on a ride( the day after the 145km workout). It was supposed to be 100km, by my mates map reading calculations. There was an extra 10km due to a wrong turn, however an extra 35km was a bit out. It turned out to be what I had wanted to do(one long ride a few months out). It is unlikely I would have actually set out to do it, or have managed it by myself.

Just thinking today what inspires me to do this site and the training. Many things, but one common theme is that I am in awe of those who complete an ironman, and guess it is goal that has been in my mind for along time. The guys who can go hard out for eight hours without a break are pushing the boundaries of endurance which I find interesting to see also.

My mate above told me he managed to have a good go at triathlon a few years back, and his times were a bit faster than mine. He must have been going well to do some cycle training with the Sheldrake brothers. And his cycle times for 2 previous 160km Lake Taupo cycle races are like 4 1/2hrs(sounds decent to me).






'Thoughts'( pyschology).


The mind controls just about everything.

Just watched a movie called 'The Secret', so that is where above sentence in bold comes from. Most of the ideas in it, were either passed on to me previously or had thought through them before myself. There was some good advice in it mixed up with a bit of what I call hype. My interpretation of it was that we create most of what occurs in our own lives, be it good or bad. There was alot more philosophy in it and even though it was interesting, it is really not my thing.

How we are perceived by those around us is interesting to be aware of also.

Knowledge is important, but what is currently believed can change.

To relate back to sport. Going from doing shorter olympic distance style triathlons to an event like ironman takes some knowledge. It is all pretty much out there if you have time to search it out. One mistake I made was attacking the uphill sections of the 180km bike a bit hard. Felt strong on the bike so rode it the same way I always have in olympic distance races. The result was tearing to some tendons in the proximal insertion of my gastronemius muscles. These minor tears didn't stop me training post-Wanaka, but they have slowed me down. Ouch..... Re-read this an am not sure how it relates to thoughts.......oh well.....


More thoughts:

- There are always new opportunities arising for all of us, regularly.

- One door closing means another door is opening.

- Find things that motivate and inspire you.

- If you are having doubts about what is the right career path for you, make a list of all the jobs you would do. It is hard to come up with this list in your mind if you are right in the middle of disliking your work intensely(save this list for this time, should the need arise).

- Accept that life isn't just all about having fun. I have purposely tried to make all the content of this site show an outflow of useful(positive) energy, but like everything there are big challenges.

- A 'problem', is really just a scenario looking for a new or better solution. Finding the solution can be a useful and exciting challenge.

Ah yeah, I think these bullet points are more targetted to the heading of this post and movie('The Secret').






Goal setting.

Below is a link here to Chris Mccormack's(Macca's) forum response emphasising a goal list.

Look through it for the posts by 'cjmacca'.


Reading this was one of the most inspirational stories/things to me in recent years. It will mean more to you if you are aware of this guys acheivements. He has pretty much ticked off everything on his sporting goal list(a piece of paper), that was made 15 years ago or so........Wow........











Comparing oneself to others.


Sometimes I may dream of being like someone else but never do compare myself to others. Always just trying to improve myself and do recognise it is not always upwards, but up and down. Don't like it when others do either as we are all so different for many reasons(often unknown). So won't be comparing how I am going with other competitors or trying to beat anyone.






Motivation through inspiration.

1/ 5/ 2008


Below is one of the most famous images in the world of triathlon/ironman to date,

Mark Allen and Dave Scott going 'head to head' at the Hawai ironman. This was the most inspirational of images when to me when it come out on the front of the triathlon magazines. They look so fit/lean and were pushing themselves to the limit.


And some more inspiration 12/ 05/ 2008

Met up with a couple of fellow ironman people in the weekend just gone, and got some more inspiration. One of the guys was about 10 years older than me and has completed 11 ironman events.The interesting thing was that he has got faster as the years rolled on and this years was his fastest time of something like 9hrs 40mins. Great stuff.

It does also remind me of John Hellemans who did his one and only ironman in just under 10hrs at age 52 or so. He is in the 55-60 age category now and still places in the top 20 or so of amateur triathletes in N.Z. He has however slowed with time in his favoured olympic distance from low 1hr 50's to 2hr 10mins today. There are a few other guys in N.Z and around the world that are similiar but not many(quite a few in the 40's category). I think the secret to it is consistency over many years. Am sure some of them do a few weights to keep the strength up also.








Distractions and some psychology in my build up to my first iron-distance event.


Distractions with a ? because I am not certain if they are beneficial or non-beneficial.

No training and still no training programme for me since the last post. First day back in the Southern Lakes district of N.Z catching up with my mate and we are out in our little boat at 6am in the morning(like right up to the last day I left home some 20 weeks ago). So the boating is a big challenge to me freeing up time for my training. Had the best days fishing today on the boat catching 6 fish in the most pristine conditions. Could have gone out water ski-ing in the afternoon with him and his wife, but have to put some limits on myself.

Enough of the above but hopefully it keeps my life in balance. Do most of my training by myself, so need some social activity and boating in the most tranquil/clean place in the world fits the bill. The clean water/environment in this area is mostly due to very little industry and few people.

Knowing the course and conditions removes some unknown and leaves a bit of extra energy to put into race day.

Got home and there is snow to low levels, which is making think of ski-ing more than triathlon. Have been thinking how disappointed I am not to have some good action ski shots to post on this photo based website. So below is a couple of photos I got a friend to take back in 2003 of myself ski-ing. This was great fitness training and to see more ski photos click here.


Posting this image is one way to get over my desire to be in the mountains and hopefully move on from this distracting urge since getting home. This photo looks just o.k to me on my 12inch laptop screen, but viewed it on a mates 19inch screen the otherday and was amazed(the image was bigger and it looked much more impressive).

It was a tough climb to get to the start point of this run(spot the orange figure amongst the rocks. Since 2002 I have focused alot of my energies to sporting activities. The ski-ing was part of a break in N.Z before heading back to Europe to play for a French rugby club. In 2001/2002 I worked in my profession in England and got enough savings together to free myself up to follow my interests more. Lasted to half way through the rugby season before getting the urge to go back to N.Z for Xmas and the Summer(and a girl friend at the time).

Here is an original quote from me, "The only mountains I will climb up are the ones I can ski down". Come up with this one a few years ago to sound cool and got a smile a few times when saying it. There is no doubt in my mind that ski-ing deep powder high in the mountains is cool!

Much more inspirational than my quote is that of Edmund Hillary on summiting Mt Everest for the first time with Sherpa Tenzing which was, "We knocked the bastard off". Might remember that one we I get to the finish line of my first ironman.


Used all the above fitness/strengthening to qualify for the World champs Triathlon held in my home area of Queenstown Lakes several months later. Was a bit slow in updating my gear so did it on my old 5 speed tri bike I bought secondhand back in 1986(was about the last qualifyer). Was and still is a good columbus steel frame bike, even though some people might say otherwise. Also transferred the clip-on aero bars from it to the new race bike my cousin sorted for me just after the 2003 World Champs. They are the original Scott aerobars and are still going strong.

Remembering some of the training I have done prior is giving me a psychological boost that I can acheive my goal(completing an ironman) and is reason enough to remind myself of 2003/04..

Writing down my thoughts is helping me focus on how I want to go about training to achieve the above goal.







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