Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-Mental Strength-

Out on the river this past weekend for some much-needed "down-time," which is vital to one's mental strength!

Out on the river this past weekend for some much-needed "down-time," which is vital to one's mental strength!

We talk about physical strength all the time, but I feel we need to talk about mental strength more often.

This topic has been on my mind for a while now, because of the increased training load i’m under in preparation for The Austin Triathlon.

I am in Week 6 of my 14 week training plan.  I will have trained for 13 weeks come race day, therefore i’m eliminating one of the “recovery” weeks.  No biggie!  Anyhow, I am in the final week of a three-week “Aerobic Stage,” and next week will be the recovery week i’ll eliminate…so, next phase is “Endurance.”

Week 5, which was last week, was when things really seemed to get tougher.  The most notable workout from last week was Thursday, which I have named the “Toughest workout yet.”   This is an excerpt from my latest post over at OTBTri:

1700 yd / 00:55

I wanted to quit like twice but of course, didn’t ;)

1 x 200 (L1) = 4:15, Rest 60
12 x 50 Drills, resting 60 between
3 x 100 (L3), resting 50 between (1:50/1:57/1:55)
2 x 200 (L2), resting 50 between (4:15/4:09)
1 x 200 (L1)

I almost fell over after I got out…space cadet! Thank goodness my client’s daughter cooked me Eggo waffles at 8:45, and I grabbed a Lean Body protein shake at the gas station…got up too late to fix breakfast. Massage yesterday was pretty brutal and felt sore from it today. Towards the end of my swim, I finally started feeling like I was getting what my friend calls a “sprint kick” down. YAY! Also, around the time of my last 100 yards, a group of kiddos came in to use the pool (summer day camp at the facility), and boy, were they LOUD. Good thing I was almost done b/c that would have been sooooooooooo distracting if i’d have had to swim the entire workout with them in there! They were shrieking b/c the pool heater is still not fixed, so it’s COLD!

This workout was literally a test of will.  My body felt dead and I was rather “blah,” mentally.  Also, being towards the end of the week, I was fatigued period.  I swam around 1:00pm and was all by myself in the pool (until the kiddos came in right at the end, lol).  It was a bit lonely without the little old ladies!  I had thoughts going through my head like: “no one will know if I don’t finish the entire workout”…(soon followed by) “but I will know, and i’ll feel like a quitter…and i’m no quitter!”  I also had thoughts like “why is this so exhausting for me?” and then “screw it, i’m tough enough and I CAN do this.”  The 12 sets of drills seemed to take FOREVER…and gave me time to let my mind wander a bit.  The 1o0’s at Level 3 were pretty brutal, and there were predictable points halfway thru each set where I felt like I wasn’t getting enough air.  The 200’s were pretty tough as well, but I reminded myself that I was probably trying to go too fast, so I did my best to relax.  See, relaxing in the water is my biggest challenge.  I am still trying to find a comfortable pace, and then trying to match this pace with those required in my workouts.  My technique is most definitely better, and still improving.  The more efficient I am, the more relaxed i’ll be and things will just “flow.”  This is why i’m sneaking in an extra swim workout this afternoon. 😉

It’s all in the mind, people.

Obviously, the body must perform…but without the proper mindset, all the physical ability in the world means nothing. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you’re not going to be able to do it.  Period.

Please do yourself a favor and eliminate these words/phrases from your workout vocabulary (I have):

  1. I can’t
  2. I’m not strong enough
  3. I’m not fast enough
  4. I’m not conditioned enough
  5. I’m tired
  6. I’ll do it later
  7. I’ll skip that part
  8. Why?
  9. It’s hot
  10. It’s so early
  11. What if I fail?
  12. Why bother?

I could go on and on but I think you get my point.

Get your mind right, and the rest is easy!


11 responses

  1. Good thoughts. That’s why I always say Nothing Is Impossible. Self talk can always get the better of you but you can get the better of yourself by turning it around. I have a lot of mantras to get me through and tend to yell at myself a bit to spur me on.

    This is why I’m interested in endurance events. It is facinating to see how the mind works when the going gets tough. It is also interesting seeing the body disintergrate and what the mind does to continue down that road or pick yourself up. Well I guess it’s not interesting at the time, it’s more like a living hell, but it’s interesting after 🙂

    July 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    • Anna-

      Spoken from experience! 🙂 As i’ve said before, this is truly a test for me & mostly because of the mental game. I haven’t even done a race yet, and am already feeling way more empowered & capable than I did prior to starting my training. My workouts are becoming more grueling and i’m viewing them as stepping stones to the “real deal” in terms of not only physical conditioning, but mental conditioning!

      Yours in Health,

      July 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      • It’s all a mental game. You know, I can’t even run a 5k race without utilizing every tool I’ve got in the self talk department. Even 400m intervals require a mental cheer squad to get through.

        Great to hear you are feeling more empowered! Next time I think Why Bother? or What’s The Point? I’ll remember that is the reason.

        July 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

        • I think we would all benefit from keeping one phrase at the forefront of our minds:
          “WHY NOT?”
          Hell, the 200m sprints I had to do at the end of my 5+ mile run were a test…and I only had to do two of ’em!
          Keep it up, sista!

          July 15, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  2. Kay

    sarah, i am sending out this post to friends/family who can benefit from the 12 words/phrases to eliminate from the workout vocabulary. these terms can be applied to all phases of our lives, whether you are a student, business owner, learning any new skill, etc.. as always, thanks for pointing out the positive.

    July 14, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    • Hi Kay!
      Awesome! Great point! We can all benefit from eliminating these thoughts from our daily lives!
      Positive is the way to be! We have enough negativity in the world. Not that i’m some Suzy Sunshine or whatnot, “faking” an upbeat attitude, but I say if you’re gonna live, live with optimism!
      I’ve been in deep-thought mode for a few days and am now super-tired so the combo could be dangerous in terms of blog posts…therefore, i’ll hold off on writing a new one that ties in with the positive stuff!

      Yours in Health,

      July 15, 2009 at 12:49 pm

  3. greenteagrl

    Great post Sarah. I feel positive self talk it is THE most important part of training for endurance events. Right now I only have enough positive self talk for a 5 mile race. I’ll work my way up. 🙂

    July 15, 2009 at 7:31 am

    • Thanks, Julie! 🙂
      Don’t worry, i’m with you…i’m having to acquire some amazing positive self-talk skills in my daily workouts! I’m loving the challenge! If I can do it, anyone can!
      Yours in Health,

      July 15, 2009 at 1:06 pm

  4. arrowdynamicmom

    Maybe doing all your swim workouts during the day camp will help you get better at swimming with a ton of “distractions” around you 🙂 Great post about eliminating negative self-talk! Sometimes we really are our own worst enemies.

    July 16, 2009 at 7:54 am

    • you know, Sue, that may not be a bad idea! Also, it would make the pool have more waves, thus assisting in getting me used to “open water” swimming with a gazillion other people around! As long as the kiddos aren’t peeing in the pool, i’m thinking i’m game! lol!
      Thanks about my post! Glad you enjoyed it!
      I soon will write a follow-up that delves more into my own “demons” and negative self-talk. I don’t talk much about how i used to be, and I used to be pretty miserable. It’s about time the world knew more about where i’m coming from with my way of thinking, and that it IS possible to turn things around!

      July 16, 2009 at 5:09 pm

  5. Pingback: Do You Have Mental Strength?

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