It doesn’t matter if you’re top in your age group, an aspiring pro or someone who just wants to be the best triathlete they can be in the middle of the pack, we can all learn from the incredible performances at the Ford Ironman World Championships this past weekend in Hawaii.
As the hours passed, the usual drama and gripping storylines of athletes who overcame remarkable setbacks on the road to Kona gave way to two powerful performances from now three-time world champ Craig “Crowie” Alexander and now four-time world champ Chrissie Wellington.
While different in their make up and build up, both races for the champs were extra meaningful for them and their supporters.
Crowie put together the best race anyone has ever had at Kona and set the course record in 8:03:56. Chrissie overcame a more-serious-than-most-realized accident the week before the race and had to battle late in the race for the first time in her Ironman career.
As a keen observer of the inner game of triathlon and what makes the difference in those that continue to outperform versus the common underachiever, here are my 5 lessons we can all apply to our own triathlon endeavours.
1. Success is always within your control
Too many athletes are influenced by what others do or judge their performance based on the final clock.
But as Chrissie says, “There’s a lot of emphasis in our sport on times. For me the time is irrelevant. I judge my success on whether or not I’ve given absolutely everything. I couldn’t have given anything more. Going into any races we all have trials and tribulations. All my races are special. This one is probably the most meaningful performance, the most special performance to me.”
Regardless of the weather, the terrain, the competitors or adversity, you can decide to give it your all and battle hard to the end. That’s where true pride is experienced.
2. Your best is found outside your comfort zone
So many athletes – in and out of sport – cling onto their comfort zone, hesitating or refusing to push their limits in training. To feel the burning in the lungs, the pounding of the heart and the ache of going further than they have before.
But that’s where the growth happens.
“From mile four to mile 18, I was out of my comfort zone. We saw last year this race can be strategic. I didn’t want to give up the time I’d worked so hard for. You have to take risks.” stated Crowie after his record day.
You don’t have to push hard every workout or every week. You need to follow a smart program that builds your capacity in a systematic way. However, you can also give more than last time. Try it in short spurts in a controlled way if needed to begin with. It might be uncomfortable in the moment but the rewards are worth it.
3. Use dissatisfying results as extra motivation
If you’re one to dwell on poor performances and allow that to lead to self-critical judgements, then take a note from Crowie’s playbook. “Last year hurt a lot,” he said. “Mostly because I had a good race and got beat. Chris McCormack, Marino Vanhoenacker and Andy (Andreas) Raelert raised the bar. I told my group that I needed to train harder. Today was the fruit of all that hard work.”
Alexander felt a bit embarrassed by last year’s results and used that not just to get motivated and angry, but as an intelligent sign that he needed to change his approach. He sharpened his inner game and bolstered his training regime to be a better, stronger, faster athlete than ever before. He’s also the oldest winner in Kona.
Don’t wait until you’re too old to be your best. Start now and look for ways you can improve your inner game and inner strength to build towards an amazing season.
4. You can deal with more adversity than you think you can
It’s often said that champions are made when the going gets hard, not when it’s easy. A bike crash leading to a torn pectoral muscle for Chrissie meant she couldn’t swim at full strength, leaving her way behind her usual position coming out of the water. But this just made her more determined and committed to give it her all.
“I had confidence in my run, but there was always that question mark of the impact of the accident on my body. I had to dig to the deepest depths that I’ve ever done.” Chrissie noted in the post-race conference.
Adversity happens to all of us and we can’t control what does happen. But we ALWAYS have a choice on how we respond. Next time something bad happens to you, ask yourself “What would Chrissie do?” That might be just the inspiration you need to dig deeper.
5. You gotta have a dream
Goals and dreams are fundamental to achieving your best in any endeavour. They give you direction, motivation, and enable you to draw on your huge reservoir of persistence.
Reflecting on what he accomplished, Crowie reflected, “”It’s what you dream of. It’s what you aspire towards and what gets to you out the door to train.”
Do you have goals and dreams that propel you forward each day? Would you like to have more? With a bit more clarity, meaning and oomph in your plans for your season, you can develop more sustainable drive to put the work in to be at your best, and have your best season ever.
For a free download of a step-by-step guide to designing your best season click here.
Leave a comment to share what other lessons you learned from this year’s world championships or how you can apply these lessons to your season.
Founder of TriathleteMind.com & Inner Game coach