5 Steps to Supercharging Your Self Confidence in Triathlon
Mental Strength Coach Leah Jantzen, shares her proven tactics to boost belief in yourself so you can crush your goals in triathlon and life.
The holidays are in the rearview mirror, some New Year’s resolutions are starting to fade, but not for you. You have some BIG goals for 2022. The race calendar is coming into focus and the goals for the year are both scary and exciting. You might be thinking, “Now what? How am I going to DO it? Can I be that fast? Is it really possible for me?”
The imposter syndrome is strong. “Who am I to reach these goals? I am just a regular person; a mom, a dad, a teacher, lawyer, a grad student. I have no formal training in these sports, or experience racing at a high level.”
What you lack is confidence. It all starts in the mind: the belief, the vision, the why, and the motivation to achieve these big goals. You cannot rely on just “wanting” to do a triathlon. You have to create a deep desire to forge ahead with your training when the motivation is NOT there. Because that day will happen, and more often than you think.
Here are ways you can get started this winter, gain confidence and get on track for a successful year of training and racing.
Step 1: Write Your Performance Statement (PS)
This is a deep dive into your WHY. A PS is not only why you do the sport, but the specific reasons why it is important to you.
My PS is about my kids. I want to show them that I can be a working mom, take care of four children and still chase my athletic dreams. It is not too late to be a successful athlete even later in life. Leaving a legacy to my kids and future generations matters to me. This is what drives me late in my training run, when the legs are tired, my mind is wanting to give up and there is no one cheering for me.
The only one that it matters to is YOU.
Without the mental vision of success, giving up becomes a viable option. Take that off the table. It should have a constant theme but evolve as you evolve as an individual athlete, and change year after year.
Step 2: Get Consistent
One of my famous sayings is ‘consistency over intensity’ and I stand by that statement. This is the time of year to create consistent habits, utilizing shorter, less intense workouts to build fitness and confidence. This is the foundation of your training. You are building the first layer of the skyscraper, the most important part of the structure. Without these initial workouts and training you will not have a base that can support the volume for future training. These seemingly small workouts are critical to your training. Respect them. Enjoy them. Don’t skip them or underestimate their power.
Step 3: If You Slip Up, Don’t Give Up!
Establishing this routine can be harder than you think. We get sick, or injured, go on vacation, etc. Don’t allow minor straying from your workouts to derail you. The most important thing is to get back on track. Learning to let go of missed workouts, or temporary changes in your schedule that prevent you from getting workouts done, is critical to your success as an athlete. The way you handle them NOW is important. Because they WILL happen as you train this year. You have a minor injury, your child gets sick, work deadline supersedes triathlon, you come down with a cold, etc. The way you problem-solve now can dictate how you handle it moving forward. Do not catastrophize these missed training sessions. They are normal and happen to everyone. Learn to let it go and move on. Don’t try to do double the next day to make up for it. You will only risk injury and burnout. Stay on your schedule and forgive yourself. Not everything is in your control.
Step 4: Comparison is the Thief of Joy
There is a saying in yoga to stay on your own mat. Meaning, do not look at what others are doing and compare yourself. Their journey is theirs, and your journey is solely yours. When we start to compare, especially early in the season, we can risk losing consistency and belief in the final product. “I should be doing more…I am not putting in enough miles…they are so far ahead of me in their training…they are so much faster, stronger, leaner than me…” These statements only create doubt and question the process you have created. It is YOUR training and yours alone. Let them follow their process and get to their finish line. Be confident in yourself. Trust your training.
Step 5: Build Your Mental Muscle
This is the time of year to start building that grit muscle. Running outside when the weather is less than optimal, getting up at 4am to get on the trainer in the freezing garage, heading to the pool at 8pm after the kids are asleep to get that 2000 yards done. This is all building the mental toughness you will need to succeed in the future. While we can’t be perfect all the time, we can strive for 80 to 90 percent. I call it “practicing the way you want to play.” You will not be able to tap into mental toughness deep in a race if you haven’t used that skill before. We train our bodies to withstand physical demands but our mind needs the same training. Look at this early season as an opportunity to strengthen that muscle. Take every opportunity to build mental strength and grow your mental game so it is available to you when you need it. It is never too soon to train the brain, and NOW is the time to start.
Leah Jantzen is an elite endurance athlete, life coach, motivational speaker and mother of four children ages 9-18. She finds the time to compete in the Boston Marathon every spring and recently qualified to race at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii next October. Leah uses her expert mental conditioning skills to perform at the highest level and teaches others to maximize their mindset through her private coaching membership, The Scrappy Athlete.