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Slaying the Fatigue Monster

By Ingrid Loos Miller

No matter how fit or how fast you are, central fatigue kicks after four hours of sustained effort and your thoughts turn from blissful to “you haven’t trained enough,” ”you are slowing down” and worst of all ”you don’t belong here.”

Left unchecked these thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Focusing on how tired you are slows you down, making you feel even worse which slows you down even more. This downward spiral of despair can turn a race into a  suffer-fest. You finish the race feeling defeated and resolve to train more next time. But training your body will not solve the problem. The fatigue always arrives and you have to deal with it.

Here is a simple mental strategy that will keep your thoughts working for you rather than dragging you down. Flooding your mind with memories of success will make you will feel better and when you feel better-you race better.

It is important to do these steps at home in a comfortable setting. Put this into your mental toolkit and use it  when you are really struggling. 

Step 1: Make a list of past accomplishments that make you feel especially victorious and strong. Include things like overcoming a personal struggle, landing a big account at work and your latest race PR. Draw upon all aspects of your life and come up with at least 5 powerful memories. 

Step 2: Imagine deep fatigue/despair as something concrete and living. It can be anything, but ectoplasm-goo monsters work well. What color is it? How does it move? As you get more fatigued, does it grow larger or does it multiply? The more detailed and bizarre the image, the easier it will be to remember. Give it a name. Draw it if you like. 
Step 3: Pulverize the monster with the powerful memories from Step 1, shaped into bullets, bombs or poison gas. The defeat should be graphic and when the battle is over,  only memories of your greatness remain. 

Next time the fatigue monster comes knocking...POW!

Ingrid’s book, Ironplanner: Iron-Distance Organizer For Triathletes, offers no-nonsense mental and organizational tools that can be used with any training plan.