Are you really ready for an Ironman?

The power of your brain could be holding you back

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Between the ages of 6 and 11, I absolutely loathed the word “sick”. Don’t even get me started on the words “throw up” and “vomit”. Somewhere along the line, I convinced myself that if I heard those words, I would become those words. So maybe loathe is the wrong descriptor.

I was petrified of those words.

Somehow I had convinced myself that if I heard those words, said those words, or thought about those words too much that they would come true. And for some reason during those particular childhood years being physically ill was terrifying to me.

And now to answer your question, yes, I did, on more than one occasion, make myself ill just by thinking about it, stressing, and worrying about it. Oops?

How does this relate to swimming? Throughout the time I was training and racing the most, I would constantly psych myself out before big races.

I had more than enough deposits in the bank, but my brain was preventing me from making a withdrawal.

Even though it might not seem like it, your brain has a huge effect on what your body can do physically. You might be feeling great one morning. But if you’re down on yourself, you’re not going to be able to perform physically.

I struggled with this constantly in my teenage years. And still have trouble with it to this day.

I don’t have an answer for you on how to overcome this. I wish I did. But what worked for me was a mix of not caring, just wanting to have fun, and at the same time acknowledging the fact that I had put in more than enough time and effort to see progress.

You’re going to have good days and bad days, that’s inevitable. But if you can keep your thinking positive, take into account that you’ve been putting the time in to drop time and make your stroke more efficient, you’re going to be in a better mood, and your body will be better apt to respond positively.

Even if racing isn’t your favorite, you can trick yourself into falling in love with it by associating the word “racing” with an image of something positive, like a sunny day at the beach, a donut, or maybe eating a donut while on the beach… The image can be anything that makes you happy. Once you start working on this I guarantee you’ll have a better mental attitude, and your races will reflect that.

Lissa Henderson

Tri-Swim Coach