Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Mind over matter and what mattered was attitude....

**I was unsure whether to post this but hopefully it will help others make the right decision in the future**

I have had some great races this season and have also had my fair share of problems during races - some Ive dealt with well and others like the recent London Superseries event have taken their toll, before, during and after.

The superseries has been a real eye opener and a great move for me, I have shown that this is the level at which I should be racing and feel that I can make big strides towards higher finishes next year. It has been a bit of a babtism of fire in the swim which has been having a knock on effect to the rest of the race but this is an issue easily resolved and an easy fix for higher finishes. It is not my fitness but I feel a technique issue (maybe fitness levels dropping to effect technique over distance???).

What has concerned me is attitude. Normally I will finish a race I started no matter what (bar mechanical and fully blown injury) but London just got to me in a way that I didnt expect.

It was suposed to be a focus race and a race for me to show what I can do but a number of factors made my mental fitness deteriorate prior to the start.

I will deal with these in no particular order.

1. I enrolled on a Coaching course to make the most of it's location (local to me) and funding which was made available - this was a great move in repects of personal development outside of racing but destroyed any chances of quality training due to evenings being taken up by coaching and mornings in work (making up hrs). I hadnt expected that this would be too much of a problem but come race day, it was there, at the back of my mind.

2: Prior to London I had a 21 day break. I had taken 5 days off from training after the Eastern Relays for HPU and never really got going again. I just didnt put in the hours needed - or I may hve done, but I didnt feel like it.

3. 4 days prior to the event I had a very late run (forced in after coaching) getting back at about 10pm. I didnt cool down properly and went to bed. The next morning I woke and everything was fine but one sudden movement caused me to'crick' my neck - I have done this before and know it usually takes 3-4 days to resolve itself - not the best preperation.

4. One of the major draws to the event was that A and J Brownlee were due to race. 1 week beforehand they pulled out (understandable due to Hyde park) but I was really looking forward to racing them (well being in the same event). Chris McCormack was also down to race, again a great name to tick off my 'Athletes to race' list and again he pulled out on the morning - gutted wasnt the word for it.

To summarise, all the above are excuses, I didnt have the right mentality for the race, at the start of the race and during the race. This probably effected my performance and ultimately decided my fate - I DNF'd, dropped out, quit. All dirty words to me and bar injury/mech that makes it impossible to finish something that should not happen.

The good news is ......this will never ever happen again. I felt awful, I regretted it straight away..and the final insult was that Ironically I probably wouldnt have finished too badly as I had been running well (sub 17 5k's in training while fatigued).

I felt bad for my GF who had come down to watch, bad for the sponsors and disapointed in myself.

I had talked myself into it during the swim and the bike. I had even made progress in the swim since the last event but had still dropped off the main pack - with a better attitude I may well have held on. I was overtaken on the bike pretty early into the 40k by Martin Caine - I normally keep with Martin and we work well together to catch packs but I didnt have anything in the tank - this was the second nail in the coffin.

The final nail came after the bike in T2. Having missed Martin (I often start slow on the bike and go better towards the end - probably due to the effort in the swim)I realized I wasnt really going to make ground and recognized a pack was forming behind me. With this in mind I eased off and waited for them to catch, tactically this was the best option as the catch was almosty inevitable the only problem was it enabled me the opportunity to think about the race and my current position etc - not great in the frame of mind I was in.

After the pack caught me I worked hard on the front with Rich Sumpter and Rob Brundish and we dragged round a group of about 10 guys who seemed to be taking a bit of a free ride. This is the nature of draft events however.

Upon entry to T2 my legs felt pretty heavy, my calves very, very tight and the sight of all these piggybackers running past me was the final nail - it turned out that their running was about as good as their biking and they deteriorated quickly but nonetheless they kept going and I didnt so all in all I lost out.

As you would have gathered I am not proud of my actions in giving in so easily, maybe my calves would have tightened even more and I may not have physically been up to finishing but I will never know; equally I may have had the run of my life and pulled myself back into the top 20 - again, I just didnt give myself chance.

I did collect a medal though - it reminds me of a race against myself that next time I will win.

1 comment:

Chris Janzen said...

Hi Matt -- great post and even greater insight into your performance. It's so true that while our physical capabilities are always with us, the mental side can come and go.

Some of the stuff on my site might help you nail it next time. I also provide personal coaching on the mental game which would definitely help.

Feel free to check it out at

About Me

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As an ex-National League Basketball player I took up triathlon as a development from cross training. I won my first Sprint distance race and placed second in my first Olympic distance. Since then I have raced the UK Elite Superseries coming 24th in the National Elite Champs, raced Vegas 70.3 WChamps and helped Paratriathlete Iain Dawson to World, European and National Titles. In 2011 I obtained Pro authorisation from the BTF and am pushing my development by stepping up to top level competition in 2012. Aside from this I am a L1 Swim and Tri coach and Professional Lloyds Broker.