3 Steps to Develop a Winning Mentality

Long before amateur athletes begin training for a triathlon, they can set themselves up for a substandard or mediocre performance on race day.

Athletes new to the sport of triathlon often tell themselves they just want to finish the race. Setting this kind of low-bar goal could be holding you back from a better performance on race day.

MoreMental Prep for Your First Triathlon

Why not spark your competitive edge and tell yourself, "I want to finish in less than three hours." Perhaps, in the case of an Ironman, tell yourself, "I want to cross the line in less than 12 hours."

Here are some tips to help you achieve a winning mentality and possibly a grab a personal best race time that goes beyond just finishing.

Visualize Everything

The week before race day, begin to visualize the race course every night before you go to sleep. Envision yourself doing the race in your head. Start with the gun sounding and go through the entire race from beginning to end. See yourself swimming the race course and running into the first transition, changing into your bike gear and getting on the bike.

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This is especially important for your first and second transition. You should see yourself taking off your wetsuit and goggles and putting on your socks, cycling helmet, shoes and sunglasses.

Watch yourself cross the finish line in your goal time. Picture the clock as it ticks down and see yourself beating it. If you can see yourself breaking your goal time, you may actually meet or exceed that goal. 

Have a Goal Time for Each Segment

Let's say that you're about to race your first Ironman and you want to finish the race in under 13 hours. That's a great goal and it's doable. In order to attain it, you need to have goal times for not just the swim, bike and run portion of the race, but for the first and second transition as well.

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All too often, amateur Ironman athletes miss their goal time by a few minutes and the reason is the second transition, or T2. It's common for first-time Ironman triathletes to spend 10, 15 or even 20 minutes in the second transition while the pros do it in under a minute or two.

Transitions count and are free time. Unlike the swim, bike or run, transitions don't require you to work hard. Pick a goal time for your T1 and T2 transitions and stick with it.

Practice Winning

Before the 2010 Ironman World Champions, the winner of the race, Chris McCormack, not only visualized himself sprinting for the win on Ali'i Drive in Kona; he practiced it.

By race day, he was ready to sprint down the final few hundred meters of the race course. In the end, he didn't need that sprint down Ali'i Drive to win, but his physical and mental determination to paid off.

More:  6 Tips to Plan your Triathlon Race Season

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About the Author

Roman Mica is an amateur Clydesdale triathlete who lives and races in Boulder, Colorado. He is the managing editor of www.EverymanTri.com and author of My Training Begins Tomorrow: The Everyman's Guide to IRONFIT Swimming, Cycling & Running.

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