Fighting the Chimp

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Fighting the Chimp

Postby jonathon.e » 15 May 2018 02:37

Whilst my body recovers from the recent exertions, I cast my mind back to the race, and thought more of the psychological race than the physical. The chimp book provides some insight, but although I agree in part, I don't have the time to create a new thought process. What I try to do, is eliminate some of the possible variables, and create a plan for when it doesn't quite go right, shit does happen, so when it does, how can you stop it from wrecking your well earned and invested training time.

As they say it is never over until the fat lady sings, if you have time, can you realistically finish the race within the cut offs, if not, what benefit can you get. Do you push on, or stop and save your energy. A long distance race is not cheap, but the training for it is fitness in the bank for next time. If it goes wrong, what will your exit strategy be, to make you less upset, and seek positives ?

I forget where I read it, but, some thought process I use, and try to instil in my trainees at work is " to forget the IF it happens, then I will do this", but concentrate on " WHEN it happens, THEN, I will do this ", the first saying allows you to be too relaxed in your preparation, so when it goes wrong, the resultant reaction is slow, but, the second saying, allows preparation for the reaction to be instinctive, the mind not having time to think.

As they say, perfect planning, prevents piss poor performance. You cannot work out every conceivable variable, but, working on enough to ensure if it does go rapidly downhill, you can compensate in some way. There were just under 65 DNFs at IMAUS, some were obvious, bike crash, ambulance pickup at the side of the road for some on the run course, is the bike crash due to a third party or bad handling, the collapse on the run course due to a catastrophic drop in body functions, or not paying attention to slight deviations in the norm, whilst one can appreciate that trying to get a place at Kona may be the goal, and the ones pushing for a qualifying time may push beyond what the body can take, maybe it is sense and sensibility taking over with my thought process these days, that stops me from doing stupid things. For those that intend doing a long distance race that goes into the cooler night, handy hint would be to put a warm shirt in your special needs bag. The temperature drop at the race was quite quick when the sun went down, unlike IMCH, which stayed warm as darkness fell.

I would be interested in knowing other people's thoughts about their psychological battles on race day, and what strategies they use to cope.
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby CCS » 15 May 2018 09:30

Wise words as ever...

...and a complete inability / unwillingness to engage in any sort of psychological battle is one major reason why I don't fancy tackling an ironman too much. I think you need to really want to do something like that as a starting point - and then, as you say, taking a sensible approach to managing how you get there is the way to go.

Meanwhile, my chimp roams free...
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby Jack Hughes » 15 May 2018 11:52

The psychological battles take place on a battlefield. So picking the battlefield is of importance.

OK, I'm stretching the metaphor a bit, but what I mean is that the dreams->ambitions->goals->targets that you have set yourself are crucial in determining what psychological battles you're going to have to fight.

I've only DNF'd from one event, which was a TT, and my leg was killing, I was going slowly (leg too broken to put power down), I wasn't enjoying it, there wasn't really any point in it, and the finish was at the half way point (out -> back, then out and back, if you see what I mean).

So, going past the finish I quit.

Was a bit conflicted at the time, but I would have gained nothing - no training benefit, and lost more, made the injury worse. It was a hard decision to make though. A real Angel/Demon on both shoulders battle. No idea if it was Angel or the Devil that was saying stop or carry on.

Another hard battle was the Marathon, where I was going for a very specific target.

The body ran out of gas, I was having trouble doing the maths, but everything pointed to not making the target. Basically, I ran out of everything with 2km to go. (although the whole thing was a bit damned from the outside - lack of sleep, a foot injury that wasn't really recovered, not enough time for prep). It was a bit disappointing as I under performed, but did the best I could on the day. Made worse with the fact that the course was short so the time was discounted (i.e. just a time for an arbitrary length race, not a marathon). The latter was both annoying, and also explained why my maths was wrong - I ended up a lot closer to the goal than I expected, but as the course was nearly 0.5km short (i.e. 2.5 minutes) that explained a lot. So I had been beating myself up with the "what ifs". But I couldn't have gone any faster. But the whole thing was annoying, missing the pacing targets by a few seconds every km and not being able to do much about it, except try harder, until the engine blew up.
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby Bopomofo » 15 May 2018 20:40

I can find some stuff to say: thanks for your wise words and some stuff from my own experience.

Bit busy now. Just wanted you to know I'd read and appreciated this thread.

As a great actor* once said, "I'll be back"




*as in 'large'
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby Kevy427 » 15 May 2018 21:19

Ah yes, the daily battle of wrestling with a chimp (not Tritans in his monkey suit either)

I’m very guilty of premonitioning; even before I’ve taken an action I’ve thought through the possibilities and consequences which then prevents me from doing it, whether it’s right or wrong, it does stop me from achieving or saying what I want to
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby jonathon.e » 16 May 2018 00:28

Choosing the right battlefield is a perceptive view. You want a fast time, choose a course that suits, you want a good finishing position, choose the right competition.

I suffer from Social Anxiety, not a huge problem, but can be managed. The fear of messing up, or ruining other people's enjoyment, means I would rather opt out than risk feeling like I have screwed up, other people's hard work, I would rather do individual sports than team games, not wanting to be the idiot on the team. Although I played rugby, I was more comfortable to be on a lower team that had a couple short than feeling I was taking away someone else's place on a higher ranked team.

I have coping measures to deal with the pressure, Although there were at times when I would think I could participate, then right at the last moment, opt out, letting people down, it is easier to say no early on, and be happier with myself. I don't want to go out on a group ride/run, only to be the one everyone is waiting for at each stop.

I deliberately kept my IMAUS quiet, only a handful knew, three family members, two at work, as in the back of my mind I didn't want to tell everyone, and then fail.

My annoying Chimp, is the one that stops me from getting to the battlefield, once there it goes away.
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby Jimba » 18 May 2018 18:00

Fighting the chimp.........helps if you tackle it when it is still quite small and not a 300lb beast :)

There are those times when I am fighting for a target and I think the difficulty is when early on in the race you know you will miss it....happens to me a lot as I tend to grossly over estimate how fit I am so set off with quite unrealistic expectations. My recent marathon does not fall into that category as whilst I had a target and knew early on I was going to miss it, I also knew that given the conditions it was unrealistic in the first place. Where it has happened it does tend to be quite difficult for me to still do my best, I try, but know psychologically that my heads not really in it.

Then there are those where it is survival....most recent marathon, and numerous swim related events where I have struggled from the first couple of minutes. It is these where I go into full on mind techniques, breaking down the distance into the next stage/length/mile etc, reminding myself that I can do it, thinking about what I need to do re technique or analyse why I am struggling. These races tend to not be pretty, but very satisfying.

Then there are the very rare times when it all comes together and I have a blinder....hasn’t happened often enough to pick any themes out :lol:
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby Jack Hughes » 20 May 2018 11:15

Jimba wrote:Fighting the chimp.........helps if you tackle it when it is still quite small and not a 300lb beast :)


Or feed it some fruit, give it a nice cuddle, then let it go to sleep.
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby jonathon.e » 17 Jun 2018 20:20

Worth a watch on iPlayer is Natural born winners. Taking four ex pro sportsmen and competing them against each other in sports that are not their strengths. It misses the mark, probably due to the wrong choice of sportsmen, but does create a few nuggets of information regarding the mindset. A very humorous moment when you visualise Donovan Bailey calling his agent and saying "WTF is this" in the first episode, which is The Man v Horse race. " 21 miles, two hundred metres is a long distance" :lol:
A 7/10 read is Louise Minchins ' Dare to tri' book, a bit repetitive, but interesting in places.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07605cq
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Re: Fighting the Chimp

Postby Jimba » 20 Jun 2018 18:50

I saw that series when it was first shown and agree, not much point having DB on the show, probably the most obvious example of turn up for the cash that you will ever see. The others though....as I recall....gave it a bloody good go.

Probably won’t bother with minchers book though :lol:
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