Spring Training Series: Tehan’s Take on Mental Motivation
Tehan’s Take on Mental Motivation
With her first race under her belt at 8 years old (and first half-marathon at 13!), Tehan was coached early on by her Dad. This training time doubled as bonding time and he’s still the first person she calls when crossing the finish line today—and she’s crossed many! A seasoned marathon runner, Tehan has also completed an Ironman—so we wanted to know where she finds inspiration and the mental motivation to keep going when the going gets tough.
Training for marathons and an Ironman can take a toll both physically and mentally. What motivates you to keep competing?
First, I’d say it’s the people. I have a wonderful support system, which includes the Ascend community as well as running and biking groups. It helps a lot because of the accountability which goes both ways when you train with others—you have to show up for them and you count on them to show up for you, too. Training with others also helps pass the time!
The second thing that motivates me is setting new goals. By getting out of my comfort zone, I’m able to grow as an athlete…to go further, to become faster. I also tie my goals to other events; recently I ran the LA marathon and spent a nice weekend with my friends. Reaching my goals and recognizing my accomplishments motivates me to keep going.
Any tips on how to stay focused on your training goals leading up to and on race day?
When you look at the race as a whole (or even a long training day) it can be overwhelming. What I do is break my distance down into smaller, more manageable goals. For example, when I’m swimming, the distance ahead can be daunting, so I just focus on getting to that first buoy in front of me. Once I pass that buoy, I look to the next one. Before I know it, I’ve covered major territory and tackled a distance that once seemed terrifying.
It’s also key to set realistic expectations. Once I turned 40, I found that I wasn’t breaking a 4-hour marathon anymore, and that bummed me out. Granted, I’m not running as much because I’ve added in other workouts (like Underground!), completed an Ironman, etc., but I’ve realized that to stay focused on my goals I need to make sure that they’re realistic and not solely time-based.
Last, I’d just say to get out the door, it’s really the hardest part. If I’m not feeling it one day, I’ll tell myself that I just need to run to the end of the block and I can turn around if I still want to—but I always keep going. I’ve never once regretted getting out there to train.
On race day, there’s an excitement in the air and people cheering you on. What inspires you to push through the hard training days when you’re out there hitting the pavement on your own?
Truth be told, I enjoy running and training so much more than race day itself! That being said, nothing can beat the feeling of crossing the finish line. I get goose bumps when I think about crossing the finish line during the Ironman. The cheering crowds, receiving your metal, you feel like a true superstar. I try to harness and tap into that feeling when I need to plug along on a long training run or ride. I also know that if I don’t put in the work, I won’t get to that finish line.
It’s also so important to stay positive. I can tell that I train faster when I have a positive mindset, so I’ll think about my accomplishments and try to enjoy the experience. To pass the time, I use certain mental tricks; I’ll daydream about my bucket list, or I’ll redecorate a room in my house or friend’s house.
Do you follow any set routines leading up to the race (night before/morning of)?
Yes! I always lay out my clothes the night before. I’m up really early on race day, so the more I can prepare in advance, the better!
Would you recommend Ascend to other athletes?
Absolutely. Ascend definitely pushes you. They have great bikes, computers, and most of all, instructors. It can definitely help you build strength and endurance.
What do you gain from training at Ascend?
When I spin, I can train in the different zones and intensities that I can’t replicate out on my own. Underground has also helped me get stronger. It’s important that I do something outside of my running, biking and swimming so that I challenge different muscle groups.
Also, I gain such inspiration from the Ascend community! I love how everyone there is working on his/her own goal, whatever it may be, from the competitive athlete to the stay-at-home mom. There’s a huge sense of community that we’re all in it together, and that is something that I haven’t found at any other studios. Skylar once told me to select a word on the wall, and I picked “comfort zones.” Ascend has definitely helped me push through my comfort zone, and that’s been so helpful for my training—both physically and mentally.
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Blogpost written by Ascend content expert, Ashley Hart