A friend of mine posted to the local tri club's forum today with a slew of motivational tips and sayings, stressing the importance of setting goals, and training the mind as well as the body for athletic events.
There was some good advice and a lot of truth in what he was saying. You DO need confidence that you can accomplish what you're setting out to do, and in the heat of battle a mantra can help you through the rough spots.
But it brought to mind one of the best sayings I've ever heard about triathlon training (or for just about any other sport, I'd say):
"Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance"
Otherwise known as the Six Ps.
I've had good races in my day, and some pretty bad ones, too. And as much as I'd like to blame the bad ones on factors beyond my control, in almost every case my success, or lack thereof, could be traced back to my preparation.
The important thing to remember is that "preparation" covers a lot of territory. It's not only the long-term buildup to the race, but also the details that need to be covered in the hours immediately before the race. So take a hard look at your performance after your next race. If it wasn't all it could be, it all goes back to your preparation.Work your weaknesses, develop a sound training plan, and make sure things like gear, nutrition and race-day strategy don't throw you off your game.
There's simply no substitute for doing the work that you need to do. Your proper preparation will give you the confidence you need to race to the best of your ability. So remember the 6 Ps next time you're having trouble getting out of bed for that early morning swim/bike/run. When it comes right down to it, the guy/gal who's going to beat you is the one who was better prepared.