The countdown for the Rio Paralympics has begun, and there’s only 59 days left until my triathlon. It’s imperative that I remain focused right up until the race; however, it’s not only physical preparation that I should be concerned about. Mentally preparing myself for the event is equally, if not more so important. You can get as physically fit as you want, but if you’re not in the right mindset before the challenge, you will struggle to perform at your best.
Something that has helped me enormously on my journey to Rio 2016 is a book that one of my former bosses gave me called 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It emphasises that we can only be certain of one thing in this world, which is that change is constant. Therefore, we are able to take control of what we are in control of.
I found this notion incredibly empowering; we can choose how to react in any situation we are faced with. There have been times when I have reacted poorly, blamed others and made excuses, yet whenever I’ve looked back, I’ve realised that I was actually able to control part, if not all of the situation.
Keeping this at the forefront of my mind while preparing for Rio has enabled me to measure my reactions during situations I am not in control of. For example, when it was announced that one of the changes being made to the classification system was that athletes who had all of their arms and legs, but an impairment to those limbs, were now able to race in the PT2 category, a lot of athletes were angry. They complained about losing time because we have to swap limbs two to three times in a race, whereas the other athletes don’t have to.
Rather that allowing this information to negatively impact my mindset and therefore hinder my performance, I approached the situation differently. I decided that if somebody beat me on the day because they were more physically able, then this would be something I would readily accept. However, if they beat me because they had worked harder than me, then I would be disappointed in myself because I could have taken control over the outcome.
Thinking in this way isn’t easy, and it does take a lot of practise, yet it can be incredibly powerful. If I could just pass one thing on to everybody, it would be the awareness that you are able to control how you react to each and every situation you face in life.