ATC 343: Mindset Cues — Embracing The Swim, Returning After Injury, Hard Running and More

August 12, 2022


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On this episode of Ask The Coaches with Lucho and Tawnee:


  • Endurance Planet is making a return to Ragnar SoCal in April 2023!!! Our first team is full and a second ultra team has one spot open but we are happy to convert that to second regular 12 person team if there is interest. If you’re interested in joining the Endurance Planet Ragnar Team, and hanging out with Lucho, Tawnee, Julie and the rest of the crew you can email us at


Denay asks:

Embracing a Swimming Mindset (as a once non-swimmer)

Help with a swimming mindset….most specifically when a triathlete has no significant adolescent swim background. Swimming is hard and progress can be slow or non-linear or perhaps even out of focus for the athlete.  Some ideas on how to put your current progress into perspective to keep showing up to the pool with a smile 🙂

What the Coaches say:

  • Pay attention to your thoughts, don’t just blindly “follow” and allow them. You are not your thoughts. 
  • Self-talk: There’s often a lot of negative surrounding the pool and swimming, observe this, are you feeding yourself the negativity?
  • Consider how you’re dealing with anxiety and how you process that.
  • If feeling anxious often this shows a fixed mindset, e.g. putting too much pressure on yourself to perform and losing sight of development, growth and evolution. Don’t fight against yourself or try to “defend” your image (e.g. silly words we feed ourselves that don’t serve us such as “I do triathlon therefore I need to be a good swimmer or I’m a fraud.”)
  • Know your “why” and stay true to your goals; if you set a big goal that’s currently out of reach that’s fine but don’t get frustrated if the timeline isn’t as speedy as you wish. 
  • Realistic expectations–most of us aren’t elite swimmers and don’t train as such. 
  • Swimming is a great skill and even if you’re not super fast it’s a great thing to work on and to be able to revisit with ease, reflect on fondly in the triathlon journey. 
  • Act like a swimmer–don’t talk down in yourself and lack of experience. 
  • Appreciate your work toward being a well-rounded athlete and not just choosing to o single sport /focus on your strength. 
  • It’s ok that you’re not a natural or have adolescent experience—focus on your work ethic now and a growth mindset. 
  • Avoid a fixed mindset e.g. “I didn’t swim when I was young so I’ll never be as good” / don’t view your talent (at any level) as static—this hold true for very talented athletes too who are so focused on performing that they lose sight in continual development. 
  • You’re not constantly being evaluated by everyone and if you’re doing that to yourself every time you swim then learn to observe those thoughts, let them go and begin a new narrative “what went well today, I had fun, water felt great, I feel energized).
  • It’s cliche to say, but struggle builds character. 
  • Feeling defeated only builds negative self-talk, poor self-image and hinders progress. 
  • Success isn’t just winning or being “great” at something, it’s learning, improving and getting the best from yourself. 
  • More is not always better. If you push too hard you may not see improvement. Learning more about you as an individual and what makes you thrive is a really special journey. Challenges of sports and balancing/managing it all are so healthy for the growth mindset… whereas getting greedy and just trying to do more relentlessly and in frustration won’t get you far in the long run.
  • Also, don’t forget: nobody cares. Sure those who perform well are often praised but really it’s about who you are not your stats. So just enjoy the process and the journey.

Brian asks:

Mindset Cues When Returning to Ironman After a Difficult Injury

After a lengthy (years) and complicated injury, what would be some mindset cues to help an athlete get back into tri consistently and safely in a way that lends to positive progress. 15 years in IM 140.6 events and interested in getting back to competing at that distance….reasonable expectations and approaches? (…. I think this can also tie in to a tangent of being mindful/patient about giving yourself the appropriate-to-you timeline for a big race like IM and not rushing it.)

What the Coaches say:

  • Practice patience.
  • Take your time to build back, good aerobic endurance takes 3-5 years depending on who you talk to and how far removed you are from it.
  • Don’t force a timeline to be ready for a race. Respect your individual timeline and don’t let others influence what you need.
  • Too often we give into a “no pain no gain” to our own detriment.
  • Longevity perspective.
  • Train lower frequency, e.g. just 4 days a week with 3 days off.
  • Avoid setbacks.
  • Motivation, while great, could be a risk factor that leads you to do too much too soon, be cautious!
  • Pay attention to how you’re moving. Monitor movement patterns not only in training but in daily living, especially having suffered an injury–make sure you’re moving your body well, e.g. good posture, healthy hips and spine, not sitting too much, or any quarks unique to your body.

D asks:

Why You Don’t Have To Feel Good To Run Well…

Help on a solid running mindset….specifically, that you don’t need to feel good to run pretty good. I use that nugget so often (again today), it’s one of my favorite mindset cues for hard workouts.

What the Coaches say:

  • How terrible do you feel? There’s a difference between feeling like crap on a day when you just need to rest vs. feeling good to go for a workout but then feeling that “pain” that comes with a good, hard run–and embracing that!
    • Look at metrics: abnormal HR (high or low), excessive fatigue (eg hurts just to walk down stairs), etc. These are signs to take the day off or go easy.
  • Not feeling good can be a good thing! That’s how we get better!
    • You have to break your body down to then rebuild and build greater fitness.
  • It’s also great practice for what happens in racing: most of us feel terrible at some point in our races. Learn how to embrace this and get used to being uncomfortable.
  • Type of run matters. Tempo, speed sessions, MAF, long runs, etc.

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