When you participate in a triathlon, things often don’t go the way you expected. That’s what happened to Dr. Joanna Zeiger when she was racing in an Ironman event and tried to grab a water bottle from one of the volunteers while on her bike. Instead of releasing the bottle, the volunteer held on and Joanna crashed off the bike and was badly injured.

After a long battle to come back, she realized that in triathlons or any endurance sport, you need to have “mental toughness.” That’s why she wrote, The Champion Mindset, An Athlete’s Guide To Mental Toughness, which discusses how to overcome negative thoughts when something goes wrong during a race.

Dr. Zeiger suggests the following:

Rewriting The Script

Positive self-talk is key! Come up with positive comments to tell yourself when things go poorly. “This is going to be okay. That was not a great swim but I’ll make up for it on the bike…” learning how to let things go and put it behind you will come with practice.

Unfinished Business

Dr. Zeiger prefers this term rather than ‘failure’. Tell yourself “I’m going to come back, do it again, and I’m going to do it better!” The fear of not being able to accomplish what you set out to do is negative. Put your ego aside and don’t worry about what others think. Every race or workout wont be perfect. If you don’t have a great day you got to let it go…

Imagine Disaster Scenarios

How do you overcome a difficulty during the race? Visualize a disaster and how you will manage it. Picture yourself in a very calm and smooth matter getting through it. This is a way to practice things that you may or may not encounter.

Next, dig deep and determine your Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Goals

Intrinsic: Something that comes from within. For example, you’re doing it for the love of the sport or seeing how far you personally can go.

Extrinsic: Doing it for the awards, the accolades, for the professionals, doing it for the money, the sponsorship, so on and so forth.

When your goals come from within, you’re probably going to have more determination to stick with it, she says. “However, if you’re looking for that outside confirmation then you will continuously be disappointed. Satisfaction must ultimately come from within! You must toughen up and be positive if you want to obtain a champion mindset.”

For more on this, watch the YouTube video:

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