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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Filtering by Category: "mental strength"

Kona prep mind over matter: Train the brain

Marni Sumbal

Well, it's finally official. 
MARNI SUMBAL (30-34 age group): BIB NUMBER 1933

With this week being my last week of Ironman training before an active recovery week followed by race week taper, my body feels amazing. With our approach to Ironman training being enhanced every year, I really feel Karel and I nailed my training for my 7th Ironman and 3rd Ironman World Championship. Every go-around we reflect on what didn't work and then we stretch the boundaries on how much I can get my body to adapt with the least amount of training stress. With this "less is more, train hard, recover harder approach" I have experienced bitter sweet feelings before my last three Ironmans. Absolutely I am ready to taper and rejuvenate from all this Ironman Kona specific training and I am excited to experience the normal "hunger" I experience on race week to get out there and let my body do it's thing. But my body and mind feel healthy. They feel strong and confident and it saddens me that this training is coming to an end. I still do not dread any workout and I continue to look forward to what my body can do with every workout I am given from Karel (and oh boy does he push me!). What's even more amazing is that instead of experiencing burnout (which I never get - ready for the season to end, sure, but never a loss of motivation), I continue to see big performance gains. I have off workouts but not as often as the great workouts. Although I pushed my body to a whole new level to qualify for Kona at 2013 Ironman Lake Placid, I challenged myself to training my brain just as much as training my body - with the help of Gloria, my mental coach (who will also be my roomie in Kona).


One thing I have learned with my journey as an endurance age group athlete, is that the mind must be as strong as the body. You can put in all the hours and miles as you want to make it look good on paper that you did the work but if you want your body to perform, your brain must be tough and ready for the challenge.

Training the brain is not easy. And this is why I rely on Gloria to help me for when I experience doubt, I know she has a toolkit to guide me in the right direction.

For example, whenever you start a training plan, for most people the first 3-4 weeks seem to fly by. Endorphins are flowing, the body feels great and everything goes as planned. But then there are the moments here and there were workouts are challenging and the doubt comes about. Looking ahead 4,8,12 weeks down the road, you think to yourself how will I ever be able to finish the race with my goals accomplished. Then, suddenly, with a balanced approach to training. Everything suddenly comes together. The puzzle pieces make more sense and although it doesn't necessarily get easy, the mind knows that race day is coming. So no more excuses, what if's or doubts but instead, confidence that the body CAN do what it was trained to do. However, for many people, the excuses, doubts and what if's continue until race day and that can be very draining and negative for a body that is primed to perform.

This week has been tough. Putting in those final workouts to my Ironman puzzle has been time-consuming and challenging. But, what's keeping me positive is that my body and mind are strong. I do not doubt my fitness and I feel very confident about my race (3rd time is the charm as they say :) Of course, knowing that I just did an IM about 12 weeks ago, I do not fear the distance and I have trust in myself that I can race smart in Kona with the notorious wind/heat race day conditions (among 1500 of the best IM athletes around the world). More than anything, I am not focusing on getting faster but instead, building confidence for race day. Learning how to overcome obstacles that occur in training is just as important as nailing a fueling plan or having several long workouts in the bank.

This morning I had a tough brick.
First off - 4500 swim.
Then a 6 mile run.

On paper, my physically trained Ironman body was ready for the distance but it was the sets that challenged my mental strength.

4500 swim:
2 x 1700 swim w/ 1:30 rest in between
1100 swim
All Ironman "steady" pace

With the pieces coming together very nicely, this set allowed my mind to wander. I had plenty of time to think about anything and everything but I was forced to stay in the moment. In an Ironman, it's very easy to think about mile 20-26 of the run.....when you are at mile 1 of the swim. But with 140.6 miles to cover, what's the point of thinking ahead when you can stay in the moment. Why direct your thoughts to something that has not happened yet when you can direct all your energy to what's occurring at that moment in time.

Although good on paper, I struggled mentally with this swim because it felt easy....but on my watch it didn't look fast (relative to me). But I felt SO good in the water. It was just a mental mess going on this morning in the pool and only I could figure my way out of it. So I had two choices - be grateful that it feels easy now and it once did not feel easy 8 weeks ago (because I wasn't "trained" yet for this set) OR get frustrated and upset and throw in the towel.

I choose the first option.

I finished the swim feeling happy and confident. Confident that I did the work in the pool, happy that I still love to swim. I will not bash my body for not giving me faster times for I put in the necessary work and this was all that my body could tolerate alongside my bike and run training...and balancing life, sleep, diet, traveling, etc. I am excited to start the Kona swim with a body that loves to swim.

Next up - 6 miles of running.

I remember back in June that my endurance was not where it is today. I was getting my body back into shape after 90 days of no running and running just wasn't fun for me. I was not able to push and let my mind be my only limiter. With an amazing 10 weeks of injury-free training behind me and a great foundation from recovering so well from IM Lake Placid, I have enjoyed every run and I constantly thank my body (and continue to do all my hip/core/back exercises and stretching/foam rolling/110% Play harder icing, epson salt baths, massages 1-2 times a month).

So today, I put another workout in the Kona bank that brings me confidence for my mental tool kit.

6 x 1 miles with 30 sec walk in between.
Odd steady, even "faster" (I don't have a lot of speed in my body so I am not pushing my boundaries with my current lactic threshold).
48:48 time
6.11 miles
Average pace 7:59 (including walks)
Mile 1: 8:17 min/mile, 182 HR (rush of blood)
30 sec walk: 122 HR
Mile 2: 7:25 min/mile, 161 HR
30 sec walk 132 HR
Mile 3: 7:55 min/mile, 141 HR
30 sec walk 131 HR
Mile 4: 7:06 min/mile, 150 HR
30 sec walk, 151 HR (body was speaking to me)
Mile 5: 7:57 min/mile, 146 HR
30 sec walk 143 HR
Mile 6: 7:05 min/mile, 156 HR

What made this so hard? Once again - it all came down to mind over matter. As I ran the first hard interval, my brain instantly thought "There's no way you will be able to run the last one hard." Here I am not even finished with the first interval and despite my legs speaking to me, my mind was already trying to convince me that there was no way I could do 3 sets of these. But after the recovery walk and a steady interval (which was surprisingly "fast" compared to the "fast" interval), I decided to just give it a go and instead of making excuses, just make things happen. After the 2nd interval, viola. Just one more fast to go. Although it did get tough as the lactic acid was accumulating in my oxygen deprived body, never did my body tell me that I couldn't do it.

One thing I have learned with training for sports and racing is that you can never count yourself out OR think you have it in the bag until you cross the finish line (or finish a workout). When it comes to endurance racing, the best way to succeed is to slow down the least amount possible. In other words, you don't have to be fast, you don't have to be the best at everything and you don't have to get upset if things aren't going as planned at a certain moment. What you have to do is stay in the moment. The only way to get yourself to the next interval, mile or set is to be sure your mind is just as strong as your body.

Next time that you doubt yourself, give it a go. Don't fear the hard for it will get easier. And when it does, you will likely find yourself craving another challenge of seeing where you can take your body and mind. For me, I love everything that comes with training for an endurance event for my body doesn't have to let me do what I ask for it to do when I train it. I am so incredibly grateful to my body no matter how the workout unfolds.

Thank you body....and mind.

The patient and mentally strong athlete - revisited

Marni Sumbal

Do you want the perfect life? 

Life is not perfect. Healthy individuals get cancer, cyclists are an annoyance to drivers, employees who work less get paid more than you and when everything seems to be running smoothly, life happens and you feel unbalanced. 

So what you can desire in life, is the ability to want the most out of your life. You can define your own definition of the perfect life by one that is consistent and involves a lot of hard work, growth and reflection. 

Today I officially registered for the 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii. This will be my 3rd experience on the big island, racing amongst the best (and most inspiring) age group and professional triathletes in the world. I will be arriving October 7th and departing October 15th. All the logistics of traveling are settled and all I have left to do is prepare my body and mind for my 7th Ironman. Nine weeks of another Ironman journey.

Thank you body.

One of my favorite parts of sharing my journey of life with others via my blog and facebook page is being able to revisit a few blog posts that describe my thoughts and philosophy of training and living a great life.
I feel we must all be patient in life, no matter what our fitness level.
We must always be mentally strong (and stable) to accept the demands, the outcome and the process in between.
And lastly, there are inspiring people all over this world. Although it is very important that we take care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of others, recognize that there are many people out there who don't get your good days and maybe even wish for your "bad" days. We all experience life differently and at the end of the day, we can only go to sleep wanting  more out of life yet willing to make the changes to make those things happen.

Patient athlete

mental training

Inspired by Kona

For your viewing pleasure (and happiness): (thanks Courtney W for the link)-
Dan Gilbert: the surprising science of happiness

Are you mentally strong enough to succeed?

Marni Sumbal

Did you know that we have over 50,000 thoughts a day? According to some research, the majority of our thoughts are negative. As a writer and a speaker, I feel my brain is on over-drive from the moment I get up until I go to bed. I am always thinking and some of my best thoughts come when I am working out as I feel the rush of adrenaline and blood flow helps my thought processes.

I'm sure you don't think about all the thoughts that go through your head as many are silly, non important and meaningless. But others likely contribute to how you live your day and the choices you make throughout the day.

For example, how many times have you been driving to work or on a road trip and in the other direction there is a crash or extreme traffic pile-up. You think to yourself "I am so glad that's not me!"

As athletes and fitness enthusiasts, I am sure there are many times when you think to yourself "Why am I doing this?" but certainly it hasn't slowed you down or stopped you from doing what you love.

The other day I was putting away dishes and my blender slipped out of my hands and fell in the sink. I thought to myself "OMG! That would be the most horrible thing in the world if my blender broke!!!" Thankfully, the blender didn't break but the next thought in my head was "OK - that wouldn't be such a bad thing as I could buy a new blender and of course, there are worst things in life than breaking a blender on accident."

From thoughts about body image, food (aka 'bad' food) and health to athletic performance, careers, relationships and experiences.....we have a lot on our mind and sometimes it can be positive but many times it can be negative.

Not sure if you saw or heard about Alistair Brownlee's amazing performance at the ITU San Diego race this past Saturday but not only did he breakaway from the breakaway on the bike but he ran his legs off with a blazing 29:30 10K run off the bike!! Now we all know that this Olympic medalist is an amazingly talented triathlete but in reading a recent article about Alistair as he lead up to the race, I started to think about the mental strength of top athletes.

"Brownlee spoke about battling an injury eight months out from London at yesterday’s press conference in San Diego. “A million things were going through my mind, from the moment I got diagnosed with a tear in my Achilles, it doesn’t get much worse, to then actually having it laid out as spending three weeks in a cast,” Brownlee says. “I never gave myself the choice of whether I was going to do it or not…just get on with it and train as hard as I can.
I’m not in the shape from London but I can’t spend my life trying to be in that shape all the time,” Brownlee says. “I have six to eight weeks of training, but I have a massive few months gap from last year to now, so I am just happy to be here and looking forward to racing to see what I have got. I have spent the last few years racing when fit and on form, so this will be nice to see how I go.”

Whether you are an athlete or fitness enthusiast who struggles with injuries or just normal life getting in the way of training/working out, I think there is something really special about mental strength and I feel that as I mentioned above, we spend more of our thoughts thinking the negative instead of staying positive.

I think for many it is scary to be in the moment and to stay positive. It is much  easier to be negative for then we know if we fail, we would have expected it and we can prepare for it. But if I remember correctly, you only miss the shots that you don't take. How do you know that you don't have the potential to make those shots if you don't stay in the positive, be mentally strong and learn from past experiences to prepare for the future?

As you all know (or may not), I work with a mental coach, Gloria who is a clinical sport psychologist and also my friend from the West Coast. She has played a valuable, priceless role in my life over the past few years from helping me with my career, sport performances and overcoming injuries and daily life stressors.

I came across this article called Olympic Mindset: Thinking your way to good results which provided valuable information that I think we can all apply to our daily life. As much as believe in training smarter to train harder, I won't sugarcoat the idea that you have to train hard to succeed. You have to be dedicated, consistent and smart with your approach to pacing, nutrition and all types of recovery but in order to do all of this, you have to be mentally strong.

Because most of you that are reading this are average "normal" athletes and fitness enthusiasts who are not racing for prize money to pay your rent but instead because you love competition, fitness and/or the benefits of being in shape and healthy, we all have to battle obstacles on a daily basis. Life happens and so do missed workouts, stressful days, off eating, restless nights, injuries and travel. Life is not perfect but in our mind, we want it to be and therefore we often count ourselves out when we should be thinking about what we can do to set ourselves up for a better tomorrow. You always want to keep your eye on the final destination but you can't lose sight of the journey. Sadly, in today's society, we things now and when we don't get them now, we get frustrated and feel defeated. But what if you changed your mind in order to succeed?

According to the article on Olympic Mindset, Olympic athletes have the following qualities:

1. Flexible dedication - the ability to first utilize a long-term perspective with regards to goal-setting while simultaneously planning for obstacles. In short, it means that Olympic athletes are able to set their target goals in spite of the fact that they know problems (injuries, etc) will arise along the way

2.  The ability to bounce back-quicker, harder, and better -Nobody deals with losses and setbacks better than Olympic athletes. Resilience-the ability to bounce back from setbacks-is a key characteristic of the mental program of Olympic athletes. Resilience is increased through proper anticipation of obstacles. Olympic athletes understand that life isn't fair, and neither is sport, but they forge ahead despite this knowledge. Why are these athletes better equipped to deal with setbacks and adversity? Because they plan for it, and use failure and obstacles as part of their training. For example, some Olympic athletes, unable to participate due to injury, spend that portion of their training time doing visualization, or biofeedback training instead. Therefore, time that had been allotted for physical training is now used for mental training, and they continue to progress towards their goals-despite their injury.

3. Love of competition:  Olympic athletes are the perfect example of doing something for the pure joy of it. The life of an Olympian, which may seem glamorous, is anything but. Long hours in the gym, long hours recuperating, strict nutritional programs, and hours upon hours spent reviewing tapes are commonplace in the lives of these athletes. The ability to balance family obligations, relationships, academics, and work-in addition to their training needs, sets Olympic athletes apart. The only way they can do this is through love of competition. And this competition is more with themselves than with others. They do it because they love the process of competing with others, and they do it because they are obsessed with bettering themselves. There is no better example of pure love for a sport than those examples evidenced in the Olympic games. This love of competition and self-improvement provides the fuel and motivation when obstacles appear and failure sets in.

I think as an age group or elite athlete or a fitness enthusiast who loves working out, we need to consider these qualities of Olympic athletes or else we will constantly find ourselves defeated before we even see if what we thought was so bad is really that bad. I do believe that life gives us lessons. For every mistake, injury and "off" feeling we can learn and grow. It is then up to you how you move on from it and certainly you don't want your days on Earth to be wasted because things just aren't going the way you planned. Don't forget with every plan A, a plan B should follow.

I love triathlons and I love that I am still learning more about myself as a competitive athlete. I get excited to train and every workout I feel like I get better. It's small gains every day but eventually they add up. I have my share of setbacks but I have learned that if I have the mindset that life is over and my goals will never be reached in my season, I only become weak with my own thoughts. Although it is very very very hard at times, thanks to Gloria's help, I have learned how to stay focused on my goals and to not let set-backs or obstacles slow me down. My own thoughts can slow me down or they can help me power my way through amazing workouts and a healthy relationship with food.

When I wrote my Branson 70.3 run race report I found myself battling thoughts in my head. Something in my mind was trying to tell my body to slow down or that it wasn't possible. But then there was another part in my body that was telling my body that there was no reason to slow down. It was a very strange relationship with my mind and body for 13.1 miles after an incredibly challenging bike course but someone I managed to conquer those negative thoughts and take chances with my mind leading my body to give me the run off my life. Even now, I am finding myself with workouts that should be hard and impossible but someone my body isn't giving me a reason to stop, slow down or surrender. We have so many thoughts on a daily basis, are you going to let your thoughts keep you from taking chances to see what is possible? The worst thing in life is being afraid of failing and not taking the chance to see if you can succeed.

To finish this blog post, I'd like to share an excerpt of a great book called "Mind Gym" by Gary Mack w/ David Casstevens (thanks Gloria!). On pg 108 the chapter is called "You Gotta Believe"

Belief is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing. Beliefs drive behavior and behaviors affect performance in everything we do. In psychology, the term self-efficacy is the belief in one's own ability to be successful. Simply believing in yourself doesn't mean you're always going to win. But believing in yourself can help enable you to put yourself into a position to win. Belief systems are a big part of confidence. Beliefs that are irrational or unrealistic lead to stress. Let's look at the ABC theory of success and stress. 
A - Activating event. 
B - Belief about the event. 
C - Consequences, feelings and behaviors about the outcome. 
There are several unrealistic or irrational beliefs some athletes have about themselves. Some thing they aren't big enough, strong enough, fast enough or good enough to play at a certain level. My question to them is "Where's the evidence?"
Some have  a belief system that says failure is a shameful thing. In truth, life is based upon failures. If you don't fail you probably aren't challenging yourself enough. If, as babies, we had a fear of failure - if we believe that failure is terrible - we might never learn to walk. Another irrational belief is "If I mess up no one will love me. I'll be rejected." Imagine the pressure that kind of thinking creates. If you believe that by not winning you're a loser, if you believe if you lose no one will love you, if you believe that taking a risk is dangerous, if you believe that not being perfect is unacceptable, these beliefs will only cause upset and trouble in your life. 
One way athletes counter irrational beliefs is through positive affirmations. These affirmations should be  powerful, positive and in the present tense. According to Muhamad Ali "It's a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges and I believe in myself." "To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you are not, pretend you are."

So are you mentally strong enough to succeed? Do you have goals that you want to achieve but your thoughts are keeping you from moving forward? Let your thoughts drive positive behaviors and remove self-defeating thoughts from your mind. Believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. I invite you to spend an entire day tomorrow thinking only positive thoughts. If a negative thought comes into your mind (which it likely will) reframe the thought. Upset you are at work? Be grateful you have a job to buy groceries. Having a bad workout? Be grateful your body is healthy enough to workout. If you can do this for an entire day, it's likely you will find yourself living a day unlike any other.

What your mind can conceive and your heart believe, you can achieve.