Mental Training Tips for Triathletes

Thriving through Endurance sports

Thriving through Endurance sports :

Mental Training Tips for Triathletes


Natacha was inspired by a strong female role model in sex education to get into psychology, and we covered quite a bit of ground.


Here are the big takeaways from our conversation:

Using sport to cope with tough times

Natacha had a family bereavement when she entered an Ironman event, and training for the event gave her something positive to focus on.

“It was a really tough time, and it was the first time ever that I just didn’t have any motivation to get out of bed in the morning and I’m one of these people who’s normally up at the crack of dawn to go and exercise”

“I got to a point where I was like okay I really need to actually do some training for this and that really gave me like that routine that sense of purpose”

Training for an endurance event can provide structure and routine in your life when you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you, it can give you something different to focus on, and give you a sense of achievement and the feel-good hormones that you get from exercise also help us to feel better about life when things go pear-shaped. Bear in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to be training for a big event. Sometimes this can put too much pressure on people, and it may be a better option for you to take some of the pressure off if you’re struggling, but staying active is key.

Know your why

Natacha says that she found “a lot of athletes don’t really know their why and they’ll often answer that question with their goals, so for example: “I’m doing this because I want to complete an Iron Man”

You may need to ask this question, “why am I doing this”? a few times to get to the good stuff!

Natacha found her why was much more powerful than just completing the event, she wanted to challenge herself physically to test her limits and to inspire other women to do the same.

This is a much more powerful driver to get you out training than completing an event or getting the medal! Spend some time thinking and writing about what motivates you, and you’ll find a powerful reason for doing what you do.

Having High Standards and Goals

One of the differences between men and women that we talked about was Women’s tendency to set really high standards and then not feel like they are ever good enough and ever able to to achieve these standards.

Although having high standards and big goals is not a negative thing when it is combined with a feeling of having to get everything perfect, or changing goals because maybe we feel that whatever we do isn’t good enough, then it leads to feeling unworthy, and we come from a place of fear that we will be judged or criticised for our performance.

“There is a myth that perfectionism is a good thing to have in sport but it’s actually not conducive to high performance it leads to putting a lot of pressure on yourself which causes a lot of anxiety and it can also really affect your enjoyment of the sports”

If you’re frequently having these thoughts then writing, and talking about these feelings can help you to work through them, and clarify which thoughts are helping you and which ones are not!

Strategies for dealing with unhelpful thoughts or patterns of behaviour


The word mindfulness has been used so much and can form associations in our mind that could put some people off, but really mindfulness is becoming more aware of your thoughts and trying to focus more on the present moment.

This can help if something goes wrong in an event, or in your training as you can move on quickly from whatever happened. It’s not something that happens overnight though so we do need to practice, and again both myself and Natacha are big fans of writing things down to help you reflect and make sense of your thoughts. Once you start this practice you’ll find that you don’t necessarily have to always write things down, the act of writing helps you to form the habit of becoming more aware of your thoughts.


Having a sense of humour when things aren’t as you would expect them to be, helps to relieve anxiety, and bring you back to the present, we mentioned singing as a strategy in the podcast (if you listen back you’ll get to hear my beautiful singing voice 😂)

But any way that you can find to inject a bit of humour will help, it could even be something simple like smiling and interacting with people on the course.


Language and the way we speak to ourselves is powerful, and once you start becoming aware of your thoughts you will also become aware of the way you talk to yourself. If you notice a lot of unhelpful comments coming from your inner voice, again write them down, I like to write down whether they are true or not, and if they are, is there a more helpful way I can frame those thoughts, so that the next time that voice comes in I have something to counteract it with, for example, “I’m running so slow” could become “every step I take is a step closer to finishing”

Natacha also mentioned cue words. This could be something you repeat to yourself when you start to lose your focus or get into an unhelpful way of thinking, for example, “strong and steady” or “Be here now”

JournalingMany of the techniques here require you to become more aware, and the best way to do this is to start writing things down, before, during, and after training, tune into the voices and comments that are coming up for you, as I mentioned before you don’t have to do this forever, but it’s such a useful tool. The act of writing can help you to get things clear in your mind, and find solutions.

Myths about Women in Competition

Even the word competitive can put some people off because they don’t want to be seen in a certain light, but competition is not a dirty word, we can reframe it as helping others to perform better.

Natacha says “Competition can be very daunting to women and there’s a bit of a myth that women are less competitive than men, and research has shown that that’s not actually true but they are competitive in a different way”

Women prefer to be inspired by each other and use each other’s performance to push them on and be the best that they can be in that moment, “Research is showing that this more collaborative type of competitiveness, is conducive not only to Performance but also to long-term enjoyment and thriving in in your sport.”

We all feel the same!

Remember that you’re not the only one to have feelings of fear, anxiety, and pressure. When you’re next standing at the start line of an event, have a look around you, and you’ll see that everyone is nervous and that people deal with it in different ways, take a deep breath, tell yourself that you’ve got this, and enjoy the ride!

Mental Training Tips for Triathletes

Learn More

Natacha is hosting a workshop, where you can dive into this topic in more depth

Workshop info

Navigating Perfectionism in Sport

When: Monday 22 April at 6:30pm

Where: online

Do you put too much pressure on yourself?

Do you have such high expectations that nothing ever seems to be enough?

Does this lead to self-criticism?

Let’s dive into the complexities of managing perfectionism in sport, by exploring the high expectations we set for ourselves. The workshop starts with an activity to help uncover perfectionistic tendencies and offer a straightforward examination of how perfectionist traits influence training and performance. We will then share practical techniques to alleviate the pressure and anxiety linked with perfectionism and to help you break free from the endless cycle of self-criticism and unrealistic standards. By embracing a balanced approach, which emphasises progress over the elusive notion of perfection, you can extricate yourself from these self-imposed constraints. This workshop aims to help you reconnect with your enjoyment of sport without the burden of unattainable ideals.

Join us to start your journey!

Listen to the full episode for more mental training tips for triathletes :

On Spotify

On Apple Podcasts

Watch On YouTube


Back to top button
Message Us on WhatsApp