How can mindfulness help my triathlon performance?

It seems mindfulness is the latest thing for learning to deal with today's stresses and anxieties, but can it really help your triathlon performance? Tri coach Amanda McCracken takes up the question...

Credit: ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/Science Photo Library/Getty

 To train the body and neglect the mind is a commonplace failure for many athletes. Mindfulness, in whatever form that entails, is essential to tame our brain’s negative self-talk, focus on success, and calm the nervous system. 

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Olympian and author of Champion Mindset: Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness, Joanna Zeiger, believes mindfulness in the form of visualisation is an important part of an athlete’s training.

“Personally, I’ve had trouble with the typical forms of meditation. However, I do set aside quiet time for visualisation. I like to picture a multitude of scenarios – perfect races where everything gels and imperfect races where I have to figure out a way to get through it. Visualisation is an opportunity to ‘practise’ situations before they actually happen.”

Deciding on a specific mantra of three words with positive associations (which don’t have opposite meanings like ‘fast/slow’) to recite in my head has been key for my training and races. It’s like giving your mind something healthy to chew on instead of letting it binge on the first negative or fearful thoughts that arise.
A few of my favourites are, ‘swift’, ‘glide’ and ‘stream’.

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Amanda McCracken www.amandajmccracken.com