It's all about keeping calm under pressure and knowing that triumph and disaster are one and the same thing. You can win or lose, and often losing can be just as much of a learning experience as the victory can. Someone said to me in an interview the other day, 'You've never lost an Ironman; what would it feel like to lose?' And I think, is coming in second losing or is it coming in second? It's changing the concept of success and failure, triumph and disaster."
Performance tip #7: Make it hurt.
"It's important to hurt in training and to learn to suffer a bit. Embrace fatigue and pain--welcome it and develop strategies to embrace it. If it doesn't hurt, you're not working hard enough. You're not always going to have easy days in training--you're going to be frustrated and have a bad day and it's important to learn to endure those in training. When you experience it in a race, you've already encountered it and can have that peace of mind."
Performance tip #8: Develop a deep understanding of your own body.
"People say how do you know how fast to go? I've trained at that pace I know I can sustain for X number of hours. Whether you train with a power tap or heart rate monitor or another device, that's all well and good, but you need to be able to control your own effort and your own intensity and internalize that race pace so when you get onto the course you know what pace you can sustain. When everything's hurting 30K into the marathon, no heart rate monitor is going to help you."
Performance tip #9: Get stronger by getting smarter.
"You have to be prepared to be objective and honest about weaknesses and where you can improve and learn from your mistakes. That's how you grow."
Performance tip #10: Eat!
"I eat a really healthy, well-balanced diet. I think it's important for women that they have role models who consume a sizeable amount of calories each day. Nothing is naughty or banned for me; I eat sensibly and healthfully. I eat red meat once a week and have lots of good fat and lots of carbohydrates. I fuel my body, and that's an integral part of my training.
Breakfast is a big huge concoction of oatmeal, flax seed, chia seeds, nuts, coconut, and then another cereal (like Kashi GoLean), and I put yogurt on it and put honey on the top. That's after my first training session. Before it, I have maybe three to four rice cakes with nut butter and honey."
Breakfasts of Champions: What other top athletes eat
Bonus performance tip: Race for something that counts.
"I'm uber-competitive and I don't make apologies for that. I love racing other athletes, and I wanted to race them on the best stage of the world [Kona]. I love the atmosphere, the cameraderie, and the thrill of winning. But when I first got into the sport, I said to my coach at the time, Brett Sutton, 'I feel so selfish, I'm doing this for me alone.' I had just moved from international development to becoming an athlete. He said, 'within a few years, you'll be able to affect more change through your sport than you ever thought possible.' And it's true: I'm not just racing for myself I'm racing for a cause, for women in sport, to spread awareness and inspire and encourage people. I don't just want to win. I want to win in a manner that affects change but in a way that shows my passion and my love and inspires others."
Find more fitness, diet and healthy living tips at Shape.com.