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"Limit the things you worry about. Worry about the things that you can control. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.... You can control your preparation and your attitude and your desire.”

Michael Johnston, 200m & 400m Olympic Champion

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Triathlon sports psychology - improve your swim, bike and run performance

I've been competing in triathlon for 15 years. Over this time I have developed a personal insight into the psychological factors involved in triathlon, as well as the individual sports of swimming, cycling and running. I have competed at the National, European and World Age-Group Triathlon Championships, and completed an Ironman. I regularly write for the 220 Triathlon Magazine, Triathlete's World, Triathlon Plus and Runner's World magazines (read some of my tri articles here).

I've worked successfully with swimmers, cyclists (road and track), runners and triathletes. These events can range from a handfull of seconds to over ten hours, require all-out explosiveness or careful strategic pacing, be mostly a solitary experience or a mass-start with thousands, have a number of rounds or be a single event, very safe or frought with significant risk...

Combine this with what you think about your abilities, preparation, readiness, how well you think you've eaten and rested, how previous events have gone, how much is riding on this event, what feared scenarios might be running through your head, whether you have a plan and well-formed goals...

These products of the event and what you think and feel will give you specific psychological challenges to face and conquer, or they'll hurt your performance. This requires a careful assessment of what goes on in your head beforehand and suggestions can be offered. Otherwise, there is only a very low chance that any suggestions will work.

Swimming, biking, running and triathlon each have a significant psychological element. The best athletes have the most developed and robust psychological skills. But you don't need to be a pro to develop these skills and improve. Here I give 10 ways of how sports psychology can help:

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10 ways Sports Psychology can help your swim, bike, run and triathlon performance

  1. Manage pre-event tension and worry so you arrive at the race fresh and ready.
  2. Focus on the elements that are key for your optimum performance, without getting distracted by what others are doing.
  3. Develop routines for the race weekend so you minimise worry, remain confident and are ready.
  4. Manage the emotions (stress, frustration...) that can develop during a race so they don't derail your performance.
  5. Maintain confidence in your ability to hold your performance and bounce back from any setbacks or unexpected hurdles.
  6. Set goals for the year, month and training session to shape what you do, focus your efforts and improve more quickly.
  7. Re-visit why you train and compete, what motivates you, and set-up training so you increase motivation.
  8. Develop images and visualise your performance - this speeds up learning and increases confidence.
  9. Process the experiences that hold you back so you can get back to performing well.
  10. Manage poor performances so they don't haunt you for the rest of an event or season.

What next?

Effective · Tailor-made · Professional

Dr Victor Thompson

Help@TriathlonPsychologist.co.uk

london sports psychologist contact number