I stared bleary-eyed at the mile marker 10 as Lake Seneca glistened in the periphery. My legs felt like bricks and sweat stung my eyes like battery acid.
Energy depleted. Exhausted. Spent.
I whispered my race mantra, "This is water... ebb and flow," over and over as my legs continued to somehow pump up and down and maintain proper running form.
Three miles later I crossed the finish line for my first Half-Ironman race, beating my race goal by 10 minutes with a smooth time of 4:50:26 and quickly found my way to the nearby ice bath.
For my athlete friends out there, you know what I'm talking about here. We've all had moments when our bodies said, "Nope, You're Done. Stop Moving." But, when our bodies tells our minds that we're done, it's possible to breakthrough to a whole new level.
When I used to coach triathlon, I had my all of my athletes share their mantra with me before a race. I'd either have the mantra on a sign or yell it at them when they would pass by.
When they saw it, it was like a match sparked new fire in their eyes.
You don't need to race an Ironman to benefit from a mantra. A mantra is meant to help whenever you're going through a mentally or physically challenging time. Take it figuratively and I'm sure we all feel like we're racing an Ironman at some point during our lives.
A mantra is a quick and meaningful saying that motivates the soul to push the body.
Three Tips to Develop a Mantra
1. Keep it Simple
Mine was "This is water... ebb and flow" because I knew that the pain I was feeling at that difficult moment in the race would subside and wash away like water on a beach.
2. Spark a Memory
One of my friends used to say a phrase his old military friend used to say to him when they fought in war together. That phrase would spark all the training he had put in in the military and remind him that he would persevere again.
3. The Power of a Name
The mantra could be as simple as a name of a child or loved one. Sometimes just the name of someone you hold close to your heart can help give you the strength you need to push through.
Now, what's your mantra?