I was recently asked the question, “what does an Ironman think about during the race?”
Its a good question because there is just so much happening during an Ironman. There is so much chaos all around you and a hundred distractions. By its very nature the Ironman becomes just as much a mental and emotional battle as well as a physical one.
I truly believe that the majority of novice ironmen train their hearts out, yet fail to realize the importance of how to approach the race with a plan in mind long before the starting gun sounds. What makes the Ironman such a special event and such an amazing accomplishment, is the ability it has to test and challenge every aspect of a persons capabilities. The Ironman is about so much more than having a perfectly toned body, the best equipment, or the ideal diet.
When you look into the eye of the tiger on race morning, it is essential that you are prepared to push all fears and doubts aside and devote your energy to the task at hand.
The term “in the zone” might sound familiar.
“The state where you block out all the distractions that could keep you from reaching your ultimate goal. Doubts and fears take a backseat to confidence, understanding, potential, and the possiblility that something magical can happen beyond what you ever thought possible.”
Mark Allen calls it the State of Discovery.
In Shamanism, it is refered to as the space beween two thoughts where your intuition takes over. Its a quiet alertness where answers come and life is created in just about any way you can imagine it. It is total absorption in making the unimaginable and impossible happen. It is the ability to let fears fall by the wayside because no room exists for them in your focus and attention. In short, you are too busy functioning at your highest level to waste energy on being fearful or contemplating failure.
This in my mind, is the very essence of the Ironman and why achieving your Ironman goals is such a life altering event. Read that last line once again……
“You are too busy functioning at your highest level to waste energy on being fearful or contemplating failure.”
What an accomplishment if you can make this a reality in every aspect of your life! Well its exactly what happens over and over again to those who are “Ironstuck and are driven to take up the Ironman challenge. They develop a new and better understanding of what they are truly capable of and see the world in a far different light.
To simplify it, I like to call it the “Ironman bubble.”
From the moment the start gun sounds, imagine yourself in your own protective bubble. Have a swim plan in mind and stay on the edge of the mass of swimmers. Stay detached from the chaos happening nearby. Forget about fears and doubts. Focus on the task at hand. Let nothing stop you from reaching your ultimate goal. If someone does happens to crash into you, let them bounce off and carry on like it never happened. resume your calm, relaxed stroke. Stay in your own space.
As the race wears on, even more things begin to happen and distractions are everywhere.
The marathon is the ultimate test of your concentration and determination.
Almost anything can and will happen all around you. Spectators yelling, frenetic aid stations. Ambulances screaming up and down the highway. People walking. Being sick. Passing out. Going to the bathroom on the side of the road. You could open your own store with the energy bars, water bottles, and clothing that litter the highway. Items that once weighed little, now weigh a ton. You have blisters. You’re hot. Every muscle in your body hurts. Every part of who you are is being put to the test. Every fibre screams at you to stop NOW, but………
You are in your bubble. The chaos is outside the bubble and you want to be in that zone where no outside distraction will keep you from reaching your ultimate goal. You have no energy to waste on negative thoughts or fear of failure. All your focus is on the finish line now as it gets ever closer.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to prepare for the mental and emotional aspects of the Ironman.
In the months before the race(especially in the last few weeks)visualize yourself in that zone–in that bubble–your space….and commit yourself to focusing on the ultimate goal with no fear and doubts standing in your way and I believe you will be amazed when you discover what you are truly capable of.
My name is Ray and I’m a veteran of over 25 years of endurance events including 14 Ironman Triathlons.
I have created a site called “Ironstruck” that provides training and racing suggestions for the beginner triathlete/novice ironman.
Come for a visit =>http://triathlon-ironman-myfirstironman-ironstruck.com
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