Not all triathletes are equally enamored with all the different training and racing components in triathlon. Some folks prefer swimming over biking. Others like the high-intensity intervals at the running track, but don’t love the long, slow distance running. Some like climbing on the bike, but don’t care so much for descending or power rollers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn to love all the elements of your training schedule equally. Since you are going to do these workouts and their specific elements anyway, why not enjoy them? After all, nobody is making you do triathlon — this is supposed to be rewarding and enjoyable. So let’s make all of it that way! How do you learn to love the things that feel like chores? Here’s an easy three-step method that is fast, easy, durable and surprisingly effective.

Step 1. Recognize the difference between chores and fun. Think of something that you really like to do (maybe you want to keep this to yourself for now), something that you do for the sheer enjoyment of it, and that you have no trouble launching into because, well, it’s just a ton of fun. Now, feel the sensation you feel when you think of actually doing that fun thing. Tingly limbs, warmth in your belly, and perhaps even a broad smile. Write down the specific physiological sensations you feel – right now!

Now, clear your mind of that image, and think of something that’s a chore. Something that you better do because if you don’t, you get a bad outcome, but nevertheless, you don’t like to do it. For example, doing your taxes — for most of us, doing taxes isn’t all that much fun, but paying penalties and going to jail is worse, so we do our taxes. When you think of this chore, how does it feel different from when you think about the fun thing?

Step 2. Recode your chores as fun. Select a type of workout or an element of your workouts that you know you should do, but don’t really enjoy. Now, think of the very next time you need to do that workout or element. Re-access that great, fun feeling that you wrote down in step one, then in your mind’s eye make a movie of yourself doing this activity. Hold that great feeling, and see yourself in this movie, in full color and panoramic, performing really well. Hold that great feeling, and run the movie again, this time at five times faster speed.

Step 3. Rehearse your training sessions in your mind’s eye before you start them.

It’s easy. Just say to yourself or aloud the purpose of the workout. If it’s a tempo ride, say, “The purpose of this workout is to ride at race pace for a portion of the ride.” If it’s a recovery run, “The purpose of this run is to do some active recovery to get me ready for tomorrow.”

That takes about 3 seconds!

Now, rehearse the workout the way you want it to happen. Make a short mental video of the workout from beginning to end and see yourself achieving the goal of the workout. Now go-start-your-workout!

That’s it!
You will notice that you don’t struggle any more with the internal voice that tries to talk you out of doing what you know you should. You don’t dilly dally and put off your workouts; you just go get them done, as prescribed. And, by golly, all those 400 meter intervals, while challenging, are sort of fun after all. Who knew?

 Will Murray is the D3 Mental Skills coach. Will shares that he‚Äôs been lucky enough to bring mental conditioning techniques to first-time athletes and Olympians, kids and seniors, triathletes who want to finish the race and those who are gunning to win. Improve your training and race outcomes, learn about our mental skills coaching services.

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