Three-time Ironman World Champ reveals the mental strategy neeeded to complete a long-distance race
Preparing your mind for a long-distance race is just as important as preparing your body, says Chrissie Wellington. If that's what the three-time Ironman World Champion and world record holder thinks, then that's good enough for the rest of us. So we asked Wellington for her top tips on making sure your mind is strong enough to carry your body through the tough times.
Before you race, bike and run the course while listening to a selection of songs that mean something to you. You will then subconsciously associate different songs with different parts of the course and during the race you'll be able to recall those songs to boost your morale.
Visualisation is a really useful tool. Go through the race in your mind and imagine how you would deal with all the possible setbacks, such as having your goggles knocked off, losing your nutrition or getting a puncture. Also envisage how you think you'll feel at different stages of the race and prepare yourself for those feelings and be ready to overcome them. In my experience, preparation gives peace of mind and confidence.
Break the course down into sections to give yourself targets that seem more sensible: try 10K blocks, aid station to aid station, landmark to landmark or even tree to tree. Reach one target, then focus on the next, and you'll feel you're getting somewhere.
Learn to accept that it's good to hurt and suffer in training. Being able to endure the pain gives you the confidence to overcome it, so when the going gets tough, you just keep going.
I have a mantra that I repeat over and over. I also have it written on a wristband and on my water bottle and keep referring to it during a race to keep me motivated. But I'm not going to tell you what it is.
Stay in the moment. Focus on getting the maximum out of your body at any given second, rather than thinking about how bad things are going to get.
Always carry a bank of positive images in your mind. When I encounter a low point, I conjure up one of these happy thoughts and it helps me to continue.