Jen Rulon

We are at the last part of the “Mental Training” Summer Series! I hope some of these tricks will help you get through your fall triathlon! Let me know how it went!

A year ago, I had a Sports Psychologist, Lynn McDonald, come out and talk with my athletes as I was getting them prepared for their 2015 Triathlon Season. Lynn and I chatted about how we can help the triathletes as they prepare for their season. I have always done “Imagery” in my training, but I have never heard of the term, “PETTLEP” Imagery, and I was very intrigued by it since I used a lot of it but never truly knew its name.

First, let’s talk about “imagery.” What is the imagery? Mental Imagery is defined as having a picture or photos in the mind of what the environment may look like on the day of your event.

PETTLEP imagery is going to be a little bit more detailed, and it uses multiple senses versus just a photo. Here is the breakdown of what it means according to Lynn, and other significant sites in the Sports Psychology World!

Physical – What is happening to your body at mile 20 of your Ironman Triathlon run? Are you fatigued, sore, tired? Feel it. Also, wear the clothing that you plan on wearing on race day.

Environment – Imagine yourself in the situation that you will be in on race day. Hot? Cool? Windy? What are the sounds? By an ocean? Seagulls and waves are crashing.

Task – Imagine the task at hand. During your swim, what muscles are you using? During your bike, what are you focused on? Power? MPH? Heart Rate? During your run, what is your cadence or your pace?

Timing – Start imagining in real-time as much as possible. Can be tough but focus on that timing.

Learning – How will you feel after your body changes after 130.6 miles? Try to be aware of these changes and place them in your memory from how you felt during training.

Emotion – How are you feeling? Are you happy, scared, nervous, excited?  You will go through ALL of these emotions, especially in an Ironman Triathlon. Break down how you will feel for the start, your swim, T1, your bike, T2, your run, and of course, YOUR FINISH.

Perspective – Can you look at your swim stroke and your position in the pool from the “drone” on race day? Utilize that “third eye.”

I hope these “Jedi Mind Tricks” help you become a better athlete heading into your triathlon season, whether it is starting now or next year!

The mind plays a HUGE role in triathlon training AND racing. Just remember to practice on AND off the field. So many people don’t like to do a lot of races or quite the opposite, too many races BUT I want to see a mix as doing little triathlons can help you train the mind for the big triathlons!


AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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