Is Triathlon REALLY a Physical Sport?

author : Dillion
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I have come to a realization that it is my mind that takes me out of a race and not my physical capabilities.

Triathlon is a physically demanding sport but it is not as demanding as one would think. After competing in triathlon for some 16 years now, I have come to a realization that it is my mind that takes me out of a race and not my physical capabilities. I have seen people with WAY more physical ability than me give up on a race simply because they let their mind get the best of them. I have done triathlons on little or no training and have done triathlons with maximum amount of training and they both seem to have happy results if I am mentally happy.

When we compete in triathlon we like to talk to ourselves. Most likely because we are the only ones who listen. I like to eliminate bad thoughts completely, simply because they like to multiply in your head. Usually if you get bad thoughts in your head you start to notice pains and aches a lot more than if you are singing a nursery rhyme or thinking good thoughts.  Next thing you know you start making deals with yourself like: "If I run to the next aide station I will walk a mile from there". Then it gets worse from there on out and next thing you know your mind tells you to quit and ultimately ends up being "mind over matter". I use several different means of relieving my mind of bad thoughts. Certainly nursery rhymes not only help your cadence, but also give you funny thoughts. For instance, I completed a 1/2 Ironman race in Lubbock Texas as my first long distance race and I sang "Bottles of Beer on the Wall" throughout the whole run and actually had others singing it with me. I was having so much fun in my head trying to remember what the last number was I virtually forgot I was running. Singing to yourself in your head is always a good thought blocker just because its hard to think of the words and think of your troubles at the same time.

I like to talk to other people on the race as another way of blocking bad thoughts. It is not only enlightening but interesting to talk to the many types of people who are involved in the sport from Doctors and Nurses to Teachers and Accountants and you never know who your gonna be talking to. It is also amazing how you can meet people from all over the world in such a short time frame during a race. Smiling alone is a good way to force yourself to think good thoughts. The old saying goes "If you smile the world will smile back". Typically if your smiling other people will approach you as "Looking Good" which is a good mental picture to retain. If you look like your in pain or uncomfortable most likely someone will ask you if your hurting and it is amazing how honest one can be when in a race. Smiling will also make for a good race photo to show your friends how easy it was for you to complete the race. Plus your co-workers don't care to see a photo of you scowering at the camera so save them some grief and smile. There are many things that can take you out of a race that are uncontrollable but there is only one thing that will keep you in it and that is your mind.

Stay positive, think positive and the physical part seems to just fall in place.

Jim Dillion
4 Time Ironman Finisher
Triathlete for 16 years


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date: September 4, 2004


4 Time Ironman Finisher
Triathlete for 16 years


4 Time Ironman Finisher
Triathlete for 16 years

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