That’s Right: It’s All In The Mind! by Shelley Taylor-Smith
Here we are… standing on Leighton Beach looking out to Rotto… it’s your Port to Pub Day!
You have completed all the training and now it is time for your body to back you and race.
Maybe it’s your Port to Pub Solo for the first time – maybe you’re a duo or team swimmer diving in for the first time. At this stage the nerves will be starting about the crossing ahead of you. I want you to know one thing right now….your nerves are perfectly normal.
Don’t know what you’re saying and thinking… but for me it was: “How good can you be today Shelley? What do you want to learn about yourself? What are you prepared to do to take it to the next level?”
You see I wanted to be prepared to the best of my ability. So being prepared mentally is just as important as physically. The total distance between Leighton Beach and the Rottnest Hotel is… really 6 inches… that is the distance between your ears. That’s right it’s all in the mind!
Just like you… of course my adrenaline was pumping. I was chomping at the bit so excited and could not wait to dive in and have a go! Heck my stroke rate was around 96 strokes/min for the first 2kms. It became a regular sight for me to see my support/handler hold up the black/whiteboard with 2 key words: “Control & Concentration”.
What is now kicking in are the MIND GAMES! The self-talk may beat you up for no reason and raise self-doubt. Remember the only pressure that you feel is the pressure you put on yourself.
Remember this: You have done the hard yards. You are in the right place at the right time right now! What can you do to put yourself in the right frame of mind? .....that’s right it’s all in the MIND!!!
1. Embrace where you are at right NOW – I’ve made it to the start line. Focus on that feeling acknowledging what you have achieved to get here.
2. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back & feel CONFIDENT – You’ve done the work. Look how far you have come. Be confident in knowing the hours and the k’s you have clocked up.
3. Stay in your routine – Your perception IS your reality. Prepare for your Port to Pub Day! Stick to your routine of eating the same meals and hydration as you have practiced, including your swimming pace, pre-race & in-race strategies.
4. The Most Important 6” – ...is the distance between the ears! We all have it and what I term the “Champion Mindset”. Focus on your greatest assets and be your greatest fan. How do I do this Shelley? Like everything else you have been doing …practice! Remember: Bubble Bubble Breathe…. Think “Drink Drop Swim”.
5. Best way to eat the Elephant – bite size chunks. This is your Race Day Strategy!
Breakdown your swim into blocks of kms or hours and each segment may have an assigned phase or theme?
1. Focus & Cruise Control
2. Rhythm & Rotto Pace
3. Power – Speed – Dig Deep – Mentally Tough
4. Control & Concentration
Much like a TV Channel; dedicate each number to a channel eg. Channel 1 is FOCUS.
6. Race Plan – Find your gears and pace it out! It should not feel “too hard” until that bloody 15km mark. Think of the swim as four quarters – 1st 5km, 2nd 5km, 3rd 5km and the final 5k is where the real race begins for you. Chunk your race down mentally and now plan your race strategy into chunks too. You want to reach Phillip Rock exhausted but also knowing you still have fuel in the tank as the endorphin rush kicks in for the final 2km to the finish line.
7. It is OK to sweat the Small Stuff some of the time – these final days in the lead up to Saturday… you’re in the recovery (taper) period whilst also being in the preparation phase. The time to be selfish is now. Eliminate the distractions. Believe me your family and friends have put up with you ‘til now… what is three more days!
8. Enjoy the journey – remember the no.1 goal is to have fun on your Port to Pub Day. As you achieve this crossing it will bring with it a great sense of personal satisfaction. Achieving this goal is a gutsy effort and one you will feel mighty proud of for years to come. Remember you will have a Rotto Plate number which is still in the low thousands and one that a very small minority of people in Australia will ever achieve.
9. Your Rotto Movie – got your movie for your Rotto swim chosen? Now it’s time to go to the movies. Get your popcorn and bottle of water and go get a front seat and watch yourself on the big screen. From start to finish. The night before, the morning of, the epic journey and the final chapter: the celebration of the finish achieving your goal. Visualise! Edit/Adapt/Insert emotion/Insert audio/Insert colour/Insert sounds and what you or others may be saying to you. Life size, panoramic or framed? Replay. Replay. As many times as you want. Turn down the volume on the nerves and turn up the volume of your excitement if that excites you. What are you feeling: Calm, Focused, Powerful, Strong, Peaceful, Joyful, Ton of energy and no one can stop you achieving your Rotto goal
10. The Champion Attitude – They may say there is only one winner on the day but there will be heaps of Champions like you. As you ride through the first wave off Leighton Beach until you take your last stroke and rise “leg-less” there will be challenges along the way on your Rotto journey. You won’t be excited and feeling great all day but your character – your inner Champion – will unleash and help you to “ride thru” those times and get you up, over it and on with it to the next wave....the next feed...the next k.... the next check marker point.
11. and finally most important of all….Yes there have been times during your training when you probably felt very alone and no one understood how important this goal is to you. Know one thing… as you take that first stroke come Saturday 23rd March 2017; there are 1000’s who have taken that first stroke on the same journey. Soak that up and you'll know about it! All you now have to do is get yourself to that start-line willing and motivated to do your best - it really is that simple!
See you at the finish line.
Cheers Shelley Taylor-Smith
0414 594 245
Image: STS “swinging” her way to World gold in 25km in Swan River, January 10th 1991.