The Beginner v Veteran Mindset

Slow Down To Run Faster

In today’s blog, Mental Health Counsellor Alejandro Rivera takes us through the different mindsets required by different athletes, and how a coach needs to be flexible and cater for all abilities and mindsets.

It is no mystery that endurance sports are as related to the mind as they are to our bodies, and the more we train and compete the more we grow in both of these aspects. Triathlon, and endurance sports in general, comprise a huge mental aspect. This mentality needs to be trained and nourished with the same care that we work on our bodies to achieve our closest to perfection.

Sometimes we wonder why some athletes are faster than others, even if their age, or condition seems different. Studies have shown that even though body composition and training regimes are crucial in the development of running efficiency, having a proper mindset is equally important in being able to have the necessary mental balance to follow the program and achieve our objectives. For this reason, it is necessary to separate the beginner’s mindset with the veteran’s mindset.

On one side we have the beginner athlete. At some stage every single athlete has been here, due to the pure nature of the way a beginner approaches the sport, an athlete with this mindset is often benefited from having a coach who follows their progress regularly. This type of athlete can feel related to in the following ways:

  • There are no type B or type C races, for a beginner athlete every single race is a race to get a PB.
  • Every single training session usually finishes with a new threshold or FTP.
  • Injuries are relatively common.
  • It is hard for them to follow a program.
  • They are always searching for new events, new distances, new challenges. Sometimes 2 or 3 challenges at the same time.
  • A long distance event (70.3 Triathlon or Marathon) is often raced in the same way they would race a short distance event (Sprint Triathlon or 5K event).

The Veteran athlete’s mind is different. This is characterised by being more focused and centred on specific objectives. This means that being the best in one training session or in a small race is secondary to a more important aspect. Sometimes it is improving their stamina in the bike leg, or keeping a proper posture when running a long event as a Marathon or the Half-Marathon event. When approaching a coach, veteran athletes tend to be accountable on their own and there is no requirement for them to need constant feedback. This type of athlete also has some specific characteristics:

  • They are capable of prioritising races. From a main race, to a secondary objectives and races when they are meant to follow a very specific objective without it necessarily being achieving a PB.
  • Races don’t necessarily finish with a PB, they see a program on a whole and understand the role each race has in their final objective.
  • They tend to follow a program on their own, with the requirement of feedback from a coach being self-sought.
  • They choose a very specific set of races per season, or even work on a race for 2 or more seasons. Following a path agreed with their coach.
  • Long and short races are seen differently, from the training, to the nutrition and the mental approach changes.

Due to the above-mentioned points, having a mature mindset has a direct relationship with a long and successful athletic life. Making the right decisions and learning how to identify and create a well-balanced season is the difference between being injured and making the best out of each race. It needs to be mentioned that becoming wise and intelligent at sports has nothing to do with age or the number of races someone races but about the lessons you get and the people you surround yourself with.

When racing with a Triathlon team, and preparing for such races as Melbourne Ironman 70.3 on a half ironman training plan, you will always have a coach guiding your journey and making sure you are always safe and always progressing towards your athletic dreams.

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