Do you still have what it takes...mentally?

Some time ago I was in the changing room getting ready for a road bike race, quietly putting some embrocation on my legs knowing that in a few hours and the next day they would hurt alot. Looked around at all the young chaps all buzzing and chatting away thinking to myself ‘I’m too old for this sh?t’, turned to another older chap sitting close to me and said the same and that I’d been doing this for over 20 years, longer than some of the whippersnapper had been alive. He trumped me with over 25 years of road racing. He went into only doing TT’s after that race. That was a good race, but my legs freaking hurt the next couple of days.


are we talking Salazar special steroid cream then?! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :rofl:

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Iron Cowboy needs that for his ankle.


Right now I don’t. I think its a mindset. I started late, I probably could still set PBs. But I’m not fired up enough or interested in that the minute. I think it wl come back, but I’m not going to force it


Yeah, 100%.

That said, I genuinely think I have some deep problems regarding competition.


I struggle a bit these days, after digging myself into a bit of a hole a few years ago I started backing off the training, although it probably had a bit of a beneficial effect as I wasn’t overtraining as much.

Can still put in a hard session or race but I couldn’t get my head round hard running last year with no real chance of races coming up. Fair play to the people that could.

Part of me fancies another go at a quick IM but the thought of lots of long sessions over several months is less appealing. And then so much can go wrong on the day, Hamburg was a prime example, long windy bike course & 30c+ on the run! And recovery means it’s difficult to do another one very soon after.

70.3’s are a much different proposition.


I think that’s why I like the long, tough ultras. You don’t actually need to ‘train’ for them if you’ve got a decent base. Just keep that base up, and most of the other stuff looks after itself.

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Yes, even anything around the 50-70k mark you can probably do without a lot of focus if you’ve got a reasonable amount in the bank.

I find 5-6 hour races very manageable.


Well I’d signed up, so to be fair, you knew there would be trouble ahead.


Think I was expecting a plague of locusts or-15 and snow :joy:

Yeah that was Roth for me; Noah was there in his arc and wearing a parka :sweat_smile:

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We’re the same age (well I’m 48/49), so plenty of stuff you can do

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I’m liking the 80:20 approach as the amount of “smashing” is much lower, although it is hard.

My mental struggles are more about the grind, especially at the moment with no pools open.

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But you can win the pervasive inner struggle; you know, like David Goggins and James Lawrence do every day. Remember to go shirtless bro.

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Guess maybe different people find different things that motivate them . I have never been hugely motivated by “winning” ie beating other people, which is just as well LOL. But I do enjoy testing my own performance and limits to an extent. The idea that exercise can prolong “healthspan” if not lifespan - that’s really motivating for me as well. And I like keeping a lowish body fat, which is basically about not needing to buy new clothes (Ok, vanity).

But some people have the killer competitive instinct it takes to win a bunch sprint, or knock out 20 hour training weeks in pursuit of the podium - that’s never been me & doubt it ever will. Back at school I was always the last one to get picked for sports team unless it was chess.


I think i’m much more mentally tough now than i was in my late teens/early twenties. But then again, I was in a very different place in my sporting career i.e. just played footy. I definitely had that bouncebackability where i could go pretty deep in a game, be sore the next day and ready to play again.

I remember one particular season in my mid 20s. We had a wretched winter so games called off left right and centre. Think we had a backlog of like 15 odd games in the last couple of months. I played 3 games a week for at least 3 weeks in a row. I was the only player to play every minute of every game. So maybe i did possess that stamina physically and mentally, it just didn’t have the opportunity to shine. Whereas now in endurance sport it really comes to the fore.

I think i am losing that real competitive streak a bit though. I’m not currently motivated for a particular race/distance where i throw everything at it. As alluded to earlier, i think i’d rather (at least at the moment) be fit enough to take on a variety of challenges at short notice instead - whether that’s long runs, rides, tris, 5km runs, mile tt, paddling, climbing. Whatever really. I do however still have a friction with this status quo that i think is still simmering in there, just a bit deeper. I’m unhappy with most of my road PBs (running). Maybe i just need the stars to align for an event/family etc and i’ll likely find that fire again to go all in (like i was supposed to last year for Cardiff half) before i lose my speed. The long stuff will always be there.

I’m currently trying to decide what to do with this season. Lots of my mates are now committing to various local races (ultras). I can’t decide what i want to do. I also want to get back into tri, but i’m probably another year or two away from having enough freedom in my life to throw a full IM training programme down (i.e. little one would be 3/4 eldest will be 6/7). I’d probably do a 70.3 this year if i found one, but only take it semi seriously - piss about in the swim, get bike fit (but won’t have a TT bike) and hurt the run.

That seems to be a bit of a brain dump of reflection and looking forward that may or may not be relevant to this thread. But i think it is!


But look at where you are in your life right now. There’s only so much time you can commit to exercise and races.

Splitting your time between your career, kids, wife, home life etc… there are only so many hours in a day!


Very true. And i think keeping that perspective is really important. Especially on a site like this that can be very motivating, but also when viewed through the sport only binoculars, can make you quite jealous, i guess, in a weird way. But then it only takes a few seconds to step back and refocus on your situation.


I think being competitive means different things to different people. Years ago I was competitive on the motos but hampered by a lack of budget. That doesn’t mean I would have won a ton of races but I would had better results. However, I raced the best I could with what I had.

After that, I got into competing sports that had much more of a ‘levelling’. surfing, running, cycling and tried to do as best as I could.

But sports aside, I think I’ve had 3 huge events that have honed not necessarily a mental edge but a mental resilience. They are:

Getting divorced, losing everything and dealing with it 12,000 miles from any kind of support networks.

The ongoing surgeries and rehabs.

Having kids again very late in life.

In isolation, they are all able to be overcome with time and ‘grit’ but collectively, they took their toll, or made me stronger. It’s hard to say say sometimes.

What they did do was give a perspective on what is important and what isn’t and when the time is right to be competitive and when you just need to juggle life and ‘get something done’ exercise wise. Rarely we are in one mode or the other all of the time.

I know the words ‘epic’ and ‘brutal’ are used a lot but when it comes to actual races, I think IM Wales in 2017 taught me a lot. I questioned what I was doing out there in those conditions so many times, I lost count but coming back the next year, knowing I could improve my time helped a lot with mental toughness and questioning why we do the things we do.

One thing I’m learning from ultras is that it takes as much mental toughness to slow yourself down as it does to go flat out for shorter stuff!


I’m as keen to race now as I ever was. They make me work that little harder. When I was younger I was swimming about 12 hrs a week - currently it’s 7 hrs on average. I’ve always enjoyed training, perhaps too much as my coach would tell me I wasn’t focused enough! He would tell me I needed to see it as a career not a hobby. I think part of the problem was that my swimming stroke is smooth and looks like I’m putting no effort in (I was). We did mess about in the pool a lot - nowadays I would be more disciplined to train/understand the importance of the session. However, I was happy to get a PB, whereas people in my squad that were training for the Olympics were all about winning. I enjoyed winning but I didn’t have the 100% fixation on winning - essential to be an elite. I think it’s much the same now (although chance of getting a PB is fading!).

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the amount of time I train, it’s hard to put it much more due to family and work. I’m not sure whether I’d put in more time/energy on focused training even if I was able to. My current goals don’t really align with needing to push myself any harder - which could be a good thing so I don’t burn out from it. It could all change though, as pre-COVID I’d entered events for GB Age Group qualification - which have rolled into this year! I would like to do more long distance routes in the future with friends - but focused on the moment rather than crossing a finish line.