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Train your Brain

Credit: Jochen Tack/ Alamy/ AllCanadaPhotos.com
Credit: Jochen Tack/ Alamy/ AllCanadaPhotos.com

by Lisa Bentley

Welcome to “repair, rejuvenation and renovation” season incorrectly referred to as the off-season. Now is the time to lay the foundation for 2015 – to heal any injuries, revive your spirit and strengthen your weak links. Less daylight, cold weather and a very distant race schedule can hinder motivation. Here are some tips to re-energize your training:

Establish a short-term early season goal. For example, if your goal is Ironman Muskoka in August, aim for a winter goal such as a March half marathon, a 70.3 race in April or a destination race to break up the winter. Since these are not likely to be “A” races, set a mini goal for each of them such as boosting your run speed, honing your men- tal or nutritional game or perfecting your pacing.

Write your goals on a card and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Stare your goals in the face each morning. When you read, “I want to run faster by March,” you will be excited to lace up your shoes.

Visualize the benefit of achieving your goal. It’s easy to say, “it is too cold to run” and hit the alarm. But, if you focus on how you’ll feel after executing each workout, you’ll be more inclined to get up and go. Tell yourself, for example, “I will get fitter, faster, be energized for the day and be so proud of myself when this session is done.” Picture yourself doing the training and see the associated benefits. Then, contrast that with a picture of yourself skipping the workout and experiencing the associated regret.

Schedule your workouts for the morning before work. The only thing competing for your time in the morning is sleep, but if you postpone workouts to the evening, now training has to compete with dinner, play- time, social life and work. Wake up, train, feel accomplished and on task for the rest of the day.

Plan a winter training camp, weekend clinic or training seminar. Think of this as a physical and mental retreat where you will learn new skills, get fit and re-charge your battery in pursuit of your sport. Every profession has team building weekends or motivational meetings. Triathlon needs a “spa day” as well where you can grow as an athlete in mind, body and spirit.

Keep a training log and include your daily emotions as well as workout data. At the end of the week, write down what you did well and what you can improve on for next week. Be honest. When you overcome a hurdle in your preparation, you will be empowered. This is a narrative of achieving your goal. Make it a piece of art. Be creative.

Establish a theme for each month of the winter. Create a personal mantra that will motivate you. For example, since December is likely to be busy, social and sporadic,your January theme might be “routine.” Then each morning, repeat “routine” to yourself. Write it on your bathroom mirror and on every page of your journal and that will be your mental cue to get the work- out done.

There’s no question that the winter can wreak havoc on your triathlon training, but a positive, goal-driven mind is stronger than any winter storm. Your attitude is trainable and controllable. If you can overcome the usual training winter lulls, then imagine how indestructible you will be when you hit a curveball in the middle of your goal race. Let your attitude make you a champion.