More Than Our Story

Triathlon Tips: The Mental Game

A triathlete on his bike.

Table of Contents

Biking: Part 2

Mental preparation is an important training component for triathlons. Here are some strategies to enhance your mental toughness and focus on the bike.


Acknowledge the Challenge

Understand that the bike leg will be long and challenging. Accepting this upfront helps you mentally prepare for what lies ahead.

Embrace Discomfort

Accept that discomfort and fatigue are part of long rides. Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Training your mind to manage these sensations will increase your overall mental toughness and better prepare you for race day.

Break It Down

Break the course into smaller sections and celebrate completing each one. This will make the overall distance seem more manageable and provide a mental boost to keep you motivated.

Set Clear Goals

  • Training Goals: Break down your training into smaller, manageable goals. Focus on hitting certain distance milestones or maintaining a specific pace for set intervals.
  • Race Goals: Set a target time and stay strong and confident throughout the ride.

Train Like You Race

  • Simulate Race Conditions: Train under conditions that simulate the race. Do your long training rides in varied terrains and road and weather conditions.
  • Experience Fatigue: Allow yourself to experience and overcome fatigue. Incorporate challenging conditions into your training rides, such as hills, headwinds, or high temperatures, to build resilience and mental toughness for race day.

Develop a Positive Mindset

Maintaining positivity is a huge factor in accomplishing your goal. Below are some tricks for developing and maintaining a positive mindset:

  • Stay Positive: Keeping a positive mindset is paramount to being successful and enjoying yourself.
  • Affirmations: Develop positive mantras and affirmations to reinforce your self-belief during training and the race. Repeat phrases like “I am strong,” “I can do this,” and “I am prepared” to boost your confidence. Think about your loved ones who inspire and motivate you, and push through it for them.
  • Reframe Challenges: Instead of viewing difficult sections as obstacles, see them as opportunities to demonstrate your strength and resilience.
  • Encouragement: Draw strength from the support of spectators, volunteers, and fellow athletes. Acknowledge and appreciate their encouragement.

Visualize The Prize

  • Pre-Race: Regularly visualize yourself riding the course, visualize the route, your pace, and how you’ll handle any challenges you face. Imagine yourself feeling strong and confident as you hit each milestone on your way to completing the race.
  • During the Race: On race day, focus on each section separately and know with each one done you’re closer to the finish line.

Mindfulness and Staying Present

  • Be Present: Concentrate on the present moment and pay attention to your surroundings rather than worrying about how much further you have to go. Focus on your pedal strokes, your breathing and your immediate surroundings to maintain calm and minimize anxiety.
  • Breathe: Focus on your breathing. Take deep, controlled breaths to stay calm and focused. This can be particularly helpful during challenging sections of the ride.

Use Distractions Wisely

  • Mental Games: Use mental games and set mini-goals to keep your mind occupied and distract yourself from fatigue and discomfort. These could be counting pedal strokes, singing songs or doing math in your head – I like to mentally compute when I think I’ll be done my race. 
  • Visual Cues: Use landmarks or other visual cues to mark progress and create small goals to aim for, such as the next turn or hill crest in the distance.
  • Music and Podcasts: While not allowed on race day, listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks can help distract you and make time pass more quickly during long training rides.

Nutrition and Hydration

Plan and practice your nutrition and hydration strategy during training. On race day ensure you are consuming enough calories and staying hydrated. Dehydration and lack of nutrition can severely impact your mental state and decision-making abilities.

Use Your Support System

If the course permits, plan ahead where your friends or family will be. Knowing where people will be and that people are following your progress can be a strong motivator.

Time In Saddle

Time In Saddle

When preparing for a long triathlon, time spent in the saddle is crucial for several reasons:

  • Building Endurance: Spending extended periods on your bike helps to build the necessary stamina to ride such long distances. It trains your muscles to handle prolonged exertion and improves your cardiovascular fitness, which is essential for maintaining a steady pace.
  • Adapting To Your Bike: Time in the saddle develops strength in the muscles used predominantly in cycling, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It also helps to fine-tune your cycling technique, making your pedal strokes more efficient, reducing wasted energy.
  • Comfort and Positioning: Regular time in the saddle helps you find your optimal position that balances aerodynamics and comfort, which are vital over long distances.
  • Technical Skills and Handling: Spending more time on the bike improves your technical skills, such as handling, cornering, and descending, which are essential for maintaining speed, efficiency and safety during the race.

Be Ready For Anything

Be prepared to adjust your strategy based on weather, terrain, or unexpected issues like mechanical problems. Approaching any problems that arise as challenges to be solved rather than insurmountable obstacles can help you stay calm and focused.

Reflect and Adjust

Recognize that building mental toughness is an ongoing process. After each long ride, take time to reflect on what worked well,what challenges you faced and what could be improved. Use each ride as a learning experience to adjust your mental and physical strategies to help build confidence.


By incorporating these strategies into your training and race day approach, you can significantly enhance your mental toughness, helping you to remain focused, resilient, and determined throughout the bike leg of your race.

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Daniel is an extremely curious person, a wealth of random knowledge and facts. Extremely passionate about a vast array of interests ranging from health to history, science to athletics, everything culinary and the list goes on. Trust us, you would want to be on his team for Trivial Pursuit. Daniel is also years into his battle with brain cancer. He experienced a seizure while on a Zoom call at work in late 2020 and quite literally, his life changed within minutes. After his operation he started to talk about his story but had always known it was more than just him. From then, More Than Our Story became a PROJECT that has evolved into the starting point it is today.

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