Monday, February 1, 2016

Focus and Refocus

by Marilyn Chychota

We all go into races with the plan that things are going to go exactly how we imagine. The process of visualizing how we the day playing out is a powerful tool.

When we wake up in the morning and go about our day a number of things go right, a number of small things don't go perfect. We don't hit every green light on our way to work, we might spill our coffee, we may run five minutes late. On a normal day, these little mishaps generally roll off our backs.

When we head into a race we assume that with the amount of preparation we've put in things have to go exactly as we want them to: perfect. The reality is something usually comes up that we either have not planned for or is not ideal.

How many of you remember the scene of the Kona coverage where Normann Stadler has a flat and can't get the tire off his wheel? Or the race when Chrissie depleted her CO2 cartridge and was left standing for many many minutes trying to figure out what to do. One was an image of a wheel being thrown into the ditch while screaming at the officials, completely beat, and another was an image ending the race with a victory as Chrissie calmly handled the situation. Both circumstances had a bit of bad and good luck that played a part on how things unfolded, but what was clear was how things were handled in the moment.

How many times have you seen someone completely lose his or her cool when things go outside the plan? How many times has a champion not even mentioned the blister on her foot, the camps he had for miles or the mechanical on the bike?

Most of us are familiar with building a focus plan, but what about your refocus plan? When I was younger I worked with a sports psychologist for many years. We were taught and practiced our focus and refocus plans in all environments. We practiced this in training, training competitions and big competitions.

Have you thought about how you will handle the unforeseen and not have them derail your goals? What key words do you use to bring you back into focus when things do go wrong? Can you recognize things going wrong and refocus before you unravel?

Having a plan is essential to competing well and having the ability to stay on track when things go wrong. Learn your triggers. Learn key words to refocus you.

Visualize yourself having the perfect day, but also visualize the steps you'll take to keep you focused when things take an unplanned turn.


Marilyn Chychota has been in elite sport since the age of 9, from show jumping to cycling and triathlon. Competing on an international stage in all three sports with an Ironman title, several podiums and state championships in cycling, Marilyn works with all distance and level of triathletes and cyclists. From beginners to elites; short course, bike racing, stage racing and long course triathlon, she has guided several athletes to the podium and to Hawaii qualifications.
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