Your brain can’t multitask…
(Really? But I’m a mom, of course my brain can multitask.)
I heard this when I went to listen to Simon Marshall, PhD & Lesley Paterson speak at the San Diego International Triathlon expo promoting their new book Brave Athlete, Calm The F*ck Down. Simon said your brain can’t multitask, so if you start counting (swim strokes, pedal rotations, breaths or strides) you can’t also think about how much pain you are in. Then your brain won’t tell you to slow down. I was floored to hear this. He also said, which I already do, that your brain doesn’t like to think about the entire race/distance in one big chunk, so divide it up. Just swim to the next buoy then to the next one, cycle to the top of the current hill, run to mile 2, then mile 4, and so on. Your brain will get a small shot of dopamine (pleasure juice for your brain) when you accomplish each small task. Same with counting, get to 8 – wahoo! Start over, 1, 2, 3… Basically your brain can’t think of more than one thing at a time.
I’ve been struggling with pushing myself during a race, especially on the run. I train well and some days I even feel fast. But when race day comes I don’t always race up to my potential, I feel like I give up and keep myself in my comfort zone, my brain tells me it doesn’t like my body to be in pain and to please stop pushing so hard. When I finish I’m upset with myself and wonder why the heck I can’t go as fast as I do in training. So hearing about this counting trick I decided to give it a shot … come race day the next day, on my run, I counted to 10 keeping in time with my steps (6 or 8 seemed too short). I also did my usual run to mile 2, now run to mile 4, now to mile 5, only one mile to go! Oh yeah kill this last .2, it’s less than 1 lap around the track! Go! (San Diego ended being 6.4 but you get the gist). It worked! I ran about what I’ve been able to run in training. I didn’t tell myself I’m too tired or to slow down because it hurts, I just kept counting, reaching my mile markers, and running my pace. My brain stayed distracted. Simon was right, my brain can’t multitask. Which is great news for my racing, but maybe not so great news for my parenting (sorry kids).
A race recap for the last two races…
June 11 Tri4Real #1 — I swam well, not my best but not my worst; bike was good but didn’t realize my new glasses were polarized and I couldn’t see my garmin watch so I thought it was broken! (have you heard the never try new things on race day ? well it applies to sunglasses too); run didn’t go that well, I didn’t push myself. I finished 4TH overall female and 1ST age group.
Highlight of the day: my 7 year old racing her first kid’s tri and loving it (she came in 2ND in her age group!). She’s hooked.
June 25 San Diego International Tri — my swim wasn’t great, I got distracted by a paddle boarder who I thought was telling me I was going off course, but ended up he was just paddling out of my way. My swim wave didn’t have strong swimmers so I was by myself for most of it. In hindsight I should have pushed harder, my pace was slower than usual. Bike went very well, such a beautiful & fast course! And I felt great on the run, or rather I distracted my brain as I described above. I ended up 5TH female (2ND amateur), 1ST age group.
Highlight(s) of the day: my 14 year old nephew, whom I hadn’t seen in a couple years, running along side me & cheering for me during part of my bike; the bike course going by my elementary school, and around Cabrillo National Monument twice; and my parents being able to watch me race.
My team is made up of such supportive woman and I can’t thank them enough for their encouragement and bad-assery (is that a word?) influence. Go team Freeplay! My coach Stephanie who makes sure I suffer in training. My amazing sponsors who believe in me and help me excel: Freeplay magazine, FLUiD, Salming Running, Hoffart Chiropractic, Roka, Rudy Project, xx2i, Natures Bakery, Sacramento Running Association, & Folsom Bike. And my husband & kids for coming out to each & every race even when you’d all rather sleep in.