Our Top Pros Tell Us How they Mentally Prepare for Kona Our Top Pros Tell Us How they Mentally Prepare for Kona

Our Top Pros Tell Us How they Mentally Prepare for Kona

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

 Preparing the body for the Ironman World Championships in Kona is one thing. Discipline. Bricks. Early mornings. Swim. Bike. Run. Recover. Repeat. But what of the mind? When asked about Kona during interviews, top pro athletes time and again emphasize the need for the right mental approach to get through the ups and even more intense downs of race day. We tracked down several of our top pros this week on the Big Island to ask them how they mentally prepare for Kona:

(All Photos © BrakeThrough Media)

Jan Frodeno, Germany (2015 Kona champion)

Understanding that inner dialog
“I come here about 16 days out from the race. It’s proven well for me in the past. I’ve taken a bit of a different travel route (to Kona via Asia) just to explore some new areas of improvement. We’ve found a good way and enjoyed my training for a first time on the Island. … I’ve been able to push similar numbers on the bike as I have been at home, and that’s never happened. It’s almost a little bit daunting because I’ve never really felt that good on the island. I’m just really hoping it translates on Saturday.”

“It’s just the conditions are a bit extreme (at Kona), and you tend to suffer more. Therefore, the inner dialog is just more active than other places. You tend to sometime get into a bit of a zone, a bit of a flow, that Ironman shuffle that people talk about, where you’re just sort of trotting along and finding a rhythm. Whereas here there’s a lot of talking, thinking of positives that I’ve had in this race in the past, thinking of downs that I’ve overcome in the past where I’ve felt absolutely horrible. My first Ironman, I’ve never wanted to quit a race so bad than 2014 Kona. In dark moments I call upon that, just how it was worth coming through it and how the day in an Ironman specifically is never over until the finish line."

 

Mirinda Carfrae, Australia (three time Kona champion)

Routine, preparation, and visualization
“It’s a year long process of visualization and preparation to get to the island and be in the right mindset and the right head space to have a good race. It’s nine hours of pain. It’s daunting…. It doesn’t make it easier to come back and realize that you’re going through that same battle again, but if you’ve done the work and you’re fit enough and strong enough physically then mentally it’s more exciting because you know that you’re ready to have a good race.”

“A routine is important for race week in terms of appearances and training. It goes from Saturday to Saturday. I do exactly the same bike rides … same runs… Last year (in which she did not finish) was my seventh year racing, and I had six pretty successful attempts at racing here in Kona. It’s one bad race in seven. That’s all. I’m going to leave it at that.”

 

Sebastian Kienle, Germany (2104 Kona champion)

Embrace opportunity to race against the world’s best
“You have to be excited so that you’re body is ready to hold up under a lot of pain. It’s a very hard race. But at the same time you don’t want to be too over excited about the race because then you tighten up.”

“I’m always here pretty early, and I’ve figured out that this is working for me. I have to get familiar with the place. … I always just try to look forward to the race – this is a tough thing to do, being healthy at the start line and be happy to race the very best in the world. That’s what you train for all year. The people that surround me… My family friends and coach. They’re here and that definitely helps me because they always balance me.”

 

Andi Bocherer, Germany

Family time precious in race buildup
“For me it’s pretty different from a lot of other athletes. First of all, two years ago I had a really bad car vs. bike accident. So, I struggled for one year… Then it was like, OK, I will get a second chance. Before then I always got injured and was not balanced training and life. I kind of took it more seriously to relax more. I get better results but triathlon is not 24 /7.”

“I have two kids (daughters ages 3 and 9). I have them fly here. It’s really like I don’t get completely lost in triathlon. We go to the beach and we snorkel together. It’s a healthy mixture… Even if you have a countdown to the race, you have to live every day.”

Annabel Luxford, Australia

Finding faith in one’s self
“I did learn a lot for racing last year (12th in her first Kona). I’ve only done three Ironmans leading into this. This race isn’t just about talent or all the work you’ve done. It’s about getting to the end. It’s as much, as anyone would tell you, about racing yourself. A big part of it is faith… faith in knowing that there is no right way or one way to do something. Faith that in what you’ve done and that you can do it.”

“I balance work (at a bank three days a week) with training. My life is just go, go, go all the time. I’m taking this week to take advantage of just being able to get as much rest as possible, just kind of quiet my mind down.”

Brent McMahon, Canada

Thinking of Hawaii as a second home
“It’s about keeping your mind calm and cool in training and not getting carried away…. I spend a lot of time training in Maui, so I have similar conditions. I have really windy conditions. For me mentally when I come over to the Big Island of Kona, I feel like I’m already there when I’ve been in Maui. I’ve put lots of time into the bike. It feels like a second home because I spend so much time in Hawaii.”

“That’s the great thing about Ironman, there’s no easy way through it. … For me, I always just think back to some of the hardest training that I’ve done. Quite often I’m doing workouts or sessions that are harder than the actual race. That’s what I think back to. A lot of times the tough parts in the race, they’re only for moments. That’s always what I try to remember, this is only a moment. I will get through this.”

 

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