I recent completed my first Ironman triathlon.
A 3800 meter swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run, all back to back.
Up until the race, I was confident in the swim and the bike. I had swam 4000 meters, and rode 100 miles with no problem.
But the furthest I had run non-stop was 15 miles — nowhere close to a marathon.
As I started the race, the swim was great. I was in the zone.
The bike was also as planned — long and a bit of a pain in the neck (riding for 6+ hours in the ‘aero’ position truly hurts your neck, maybe I am doing it wrong?), but nothing I hadn’t anticipated.
I set alerts to drink every 10 minutes, eat every 20 minutes, and have salt every 5 miles. I just had to stick to the plan and I would be fine.
In fact, I keep telling myself “I feel fine”.
At about mile 100 on the ride, I began preparing for the run mentally.
It didn’t start out well. I kept saying to myself, “Shit, I’ve gotta run a MARATHON now. Ugh!” What a long distance that sounds like.
But then I switched mental models. I minimised the amount in my mind.
Instead of A Marathon, I had to do a “quick run off the bike”.
Instead of 26.2 miles, or worse, over 40 kilometres, I had to complete 4 laps on the race course.
These are all the same distances of course, but by minimising them in my mind, it simplified the job.
I remembered the “hitting the wall” phenomenon. This is said to happen about mile 20.
I reached mile 19, and remembered The Wall. “You’re supposed to hit the wall right?”
Then, told myself to forget about this proverbial “wall” and just focused my 4 laps. I was half way through the 3rd lap. Almost there. When I started my 4th lap, I had remembered that I had gone past The Wall without even noticing it.
Stick to the plan, minimise hard things in your mind, and you can break through the walls that others have put up. Then, Keep going.