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IM Austria virgins: Matt Molloy (3)
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 3rd June 2011


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In the lead up to Ironman Austria on 3rd July this year we're following the progress of two athletes, Matt Molloy and Boo Alder, who approach the event with very different backgrounds and expectations. They are however, both 'Ironman virgins' and have chosen the incredibly popular Klagenfurt venue to step up to the Ironman distance.

Below is Matt's third update and here he discusses some of the mental approaches he has taken to try and ensure he is ready to go come race day - and hopefully collect that Kona qualifying slot.

You can catch up on all of the articles in this series on these links:

You can catch up on all of the articles in this series on these links:


My biggest concern looking forward to doing an Ironman race is the run. Having experienced tough times in shorter events, I guess it was inevitable that tackling double the run distance I'd previously covered in a triathlon (and after being on the go for longer than I'd previously raced), would throw up some doubts in my mind. It was for this reason that I wanted to focus on the mental aspect of going long.

One objective was to remove any anxiety associated with the fear of the unknown and/or uncharted territory. My take is that wasting mental energy would impact on my physical performance, either by making me tense or elevating my heart rate unnecessarily. Therefore I figured out that any doubts I had about my ability to cover the distance, at a level of performance that I would be satisfied with, needed addressing. In that regard, one thing that had struck me when observing people who were successful (not necessarily restricted to athletes) is that they do not fear failure. This led me to think about what I was trying to achieve (Kona qualification) and the question of “what if I didn't qualify?” The honest answer, was, it didn't (and still doesn't) matter at all. Triathlon for me is a hobby, a means of stopping me working too many hours and a way of keeping me fit and healthy so that I can hopefully get to see and be a part of the kids growing older.

Matt MolloyA significant part of my mental preparation is actually derived from physical performances - either in training or races. A benefit of achieving good results is the instillation of confidence and belief that I can achieve what I'm trying to achieve. As a rule of thumb, Bill indicated that adding 10% to your standalone 3.8k swim, 100 mile TT (pro- rated to 112 miles) and marathon times would give an approximate indication of what was achievable in an ironman if it was paced correctly and nutrition was nailed. This would obviously be subject to conditions on the day and course specifics/profiles. Based on what I'd achieved in 2010, there was no doubt in my mind that I could achieve my goal. Sitting here now with another winter under my belt and the knowledge of further improvements has just added to the confidence. If anything, I feel that I've needed to reign in the confidence and remind myself that I've not covered the distance in one go before and to show the distance some more respect. There are countless examples of very good athletes being humbled on the Ironman run...

Another aspect of my mental preparation has been to adopt and practise strategies for the tough times. This has involved embracing the harder options/conditions when given a choice, putting myself in mentally challenging situations and then processing them by using a combination of positive visualisation and keywords/phrases which enable me to deal with any negative thoughts. This has gone well, subject to one potential downside where I've flirted with injury as a result of pushing on through pain. As a result, it's highlighted the importance of being able to read and interpret the signals our body sends us and to be able to differentiate between pain which is potentially physically damaging and that which is not.

Developing a sense of feel has been one area which Louise highlighted as important. In particular, we've worked on not being over reliant on the gadgets. This has involved taping over the face of my GPS and powermeter during training/races and then looking at/analysing the data afterwards in order to develop my sense of feel for different levels of intensity. This is something I'll hopefully be putting to good use in Austria. Yes, I'll have my powermeter and heart rate monitor as back-up and cross-check, but I'm not going to be a slave to them and/or waste energy if they don't work.

I'll go into some detail on my kit choices and nutrition plan next time.


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