Book Review - Using Mental Toughness Training For Triathlons

Book Review, Sports Psychology, Triathlon Motivation -

Book Review - Using Mental Toughness Training For Triathlons

Using Mental Toughness Training For Triathlons
Visualization Techniques to make your goals reality
By Joseph Correa – Certified Meditation Instructor

The book starts by building the framework and support for mediation as a tool to assist your racing and performance.   As in most claims for yoga/ meditation, there was numerous claims that I felt went over and above what was needed, however in a nutshell, the fact is that meditation is highly useful.   It was also clear that the author had a solid understanding of training and racing that the entire book was prefaced with the fact that actual training and preparation is absolutely necessary, but meditation and visualization is one of many under-used tools that can add substantial value.

Overall the meditation techniques shared in the book were relatively simply and what most people would experience if they took part in casual yoga classes or explored this area at a foundational level.    There was a clear system that the author put forward which was:
  1. Learn to get calm (the set up).  These techniques ranged from calming the mind often referred to as ‘to be present’.  Simply it means to clear mind of all thoughts or to be still.  Another technique was to do a guided meditation whereby your focus is directed.  This could be an object, sound, or guided instruction focusing on your body or journey. 
In both forms of this stage the author suggested simply to be physically comfortable, in a quiet space, and ready to ‘last the time’ by taking away distractions or preventing hunger, thirst of toilet breaks that would cause a disruption in this process.     Similarly, to training there is some overload principle used, meaning starting at 5-15min every second day, and building up to 30min-1hour of meditation per day

  1. Once the person is calm the author suggested to use very similar meditation practices to either:
    •  To play out scenarios (positive and negative)
    • Imprint goals
    • Stay motivated, energized and on track
    • Problem solve
Thought-out the meditation processes, both settling the mind and also looking at specific scenarios in visualization practice, breathing techniques also were discussed as foundational.  Both in the moment to induce physical states of being more or less relaxed or pumped up.   These breathing techniques can certainly be carried over to a real race situation.

Specifically, with regards to problem solving, the author eludes to a list of how most athletes react in the process.  These are as follows:
  • Getting angry – with the anger pushing you to find solutions
  • Blaming – whereby you look for excuses why not, rather than looking inward
  • Whining – which is tied to incorrectly learning how to problem solve or cope in childhood
  • Stop trying, or giving up
  • Repeat offender – this this being stagnant by repeating errors time and again, rather than reflecting and finding new paths
  • Trial and error – as clearly stated, however it's a slow and inefficient method of getting better
The author suggests the best the best problem solving method is using a simple probability method. Whereby you look to find the root cause of problems that are the main or statistically significant cause of the issue.  By visualizing on the cause rather than the issue problems will be solved.
Performance versus results based goals.  The book feels both goals are useful, with performance based goals are looking at processes such as controlling breathing in the swim, whereas results based are outcome driven, such as podium in this event.

Over the final chapters of the book, there are specific practices that take you through each meditation and visualization practices.  This is very useful for people who have never done meditation before or who want a clear outline on how to go about implementing everything discussed in the prior chapters.   One key point to note that I found excellent is that after each meditation/ visualization there was a built in reflection period which is advised to see what could have gone better.  As in training and racing this is highly valuable and great to see incorporated into the techniques.     These chapters provide a clear starting point and platform, and once mastered the athlete can refine the process to ensure it works best for them and apply more advanced techniques.    These techniques are also cross transferable to all aspects of an athlete’s life so super powerful!

Criticisms and feedback points.
Before starting this book, it is important that you set your frame of mind correctly.  From first glance, I had anticipated that this book was about ‘mental toughness’ and the range of techniques discussed would be inclusive of basic sports phycology as well as meditation.   As I carried this belief into the book, I was disappointed that the strategies were exclusively around mediation practices.  However, on reflection this makes sense given the sub-title and author.

The book dedicated an entire chapter to nutrition, however I felt this was beyond the core message and scope.

For a meditation book I personally found the practices to be solid, but at a basic level.   There are several more advanced practices that can challenge the mind to deeper levels or other practices not mentioned.  These techniques could expand the scope of the book and prevent repetition.

With regards to problem solving, what was not mentioned in the book is that a second and compelling option is simply getting coaching or seeking outside help and assistance as the fastest path with least friction.     Also on the section of performance v’s results based goals, I tend to feel that performance based goals should make up 95% of all visualization.  Results based goals tend to be built upon moving variables and it is too easy to do everything right and still feel like you did not achieve based upon someone executing better.  This is common in Olympic games events when two competitors both break the world record, however only one gets the gold!

Overall I would give this book a 3.5stars out of 5. It’s a quick read and if you have not been exposed to meditation/ visualization a great starting point.

This book is availible via Amazon for digital download.  Follow the below link for more information.

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