Thoughts during a race; it’s not all about the finish line

by Lucy Bowden

Tough one – It’s been a considerable amount of time since I’ve raced the longer distance triathlons where there’s more time for your mind to venture off into positive or negative thoughts. I believe I’ve grown a lot as an athlete since racing my last half Ironman, and I’m really looking forward to having a crack at that distance again this year.



It’s a short course, so much faster. Which in my mind means less time to get distracted and wonder what’s for dinner? Rather, I concentrate on the task at hand; keeping light and quick, putting just enough pressure on the front stroke for a good catch, and pull through. These steps are on repeat in my head during a swim race, and are the phases of the freestyle swim stroke detailed wonderfully by Julia Polloreno from Triathlete magazine.

Pro Matty Reed demonstrates the “catch” phase of the swim stroke. Photo: Nils Nilsen. Triathlete Magazine



Onto the bike we push hard, hard enough for it to be uncomfortable but not too hard where it’s unsustainable. Depending on the course, the bike is one of the first moments were mindset comes into play. I’ll think about the people that have been there from day one, supported me to be right here; racing and doing what I love. I think, if they were standing on the sidelines, they’d cheer for me to give everything I’ve got and then some. Because you can Lucy, you’ve got this. And that’s what keeps my mind strong.

Lucy on the bike during competition.



Beep, Beep, Beep!

The steady pulsing of the metronome takes over the run. I tend to zone out to what is around me when I’m running. I find that the majority of my mental energy goes towards making sure my form is good: leg turnover, arms pumping, breathing consistent. I always tell myself keep pushing, no matter what. Because the burn will eventually ease, the sweat will be showered off and my muscles will not feel tired forever. But for now, this is what I came to do, and I’m not finished till I’ve crossed the finish line.

Source: Instagram @_bowds_


During training and racing I think it’s important to know your why. Why are you putting your body through this strenuous exercise? Why are you testing your mental sanity to this measure? Why do you want to cross the finish line?

This will always give you the mental strength your body physically needs. Because it really is just a mind game; your body can do anything if you’re willing and determined enough to push through the pain.


Quick history

Triathlon is an activity that combines swimming, cycling, and running in one event. The first time (on record) that a competition featuring the triathlon events of swim-run-bike was held back in 1920 in France. It featured a 3-kilometer run, a 12-kilometer bike and a swim across the Marne.

It wasn’t until 1977 that the modern Ironman – a 140.6-mile (226.2km) slog around the entire Hawaiian island of Oahu was created, in order to settle a debate about whether runners, swimmers or cyclists were the fittest athletes.

However today there are many shorter, more common distances available for the Average Joe or Jane to compete in. The four most common triathlon distances are:

  • Sprint Triathlon
    • 750 meter (0.465 mile) swim / 20 km (12.5 mi) bike / 5 km (3.1 mi) run
  • Standard or Olympic Triathlon
    • 1.5 km (0.93 mile) swim / 40km (25 mi) bike / 10 km (6.2 mi) run
  • Half-Ironman or 70.3 Triathlon
    • 1.9 km (1.2 mile) swim / 90 km (56 mi) bike / 21.1 km (13.1 mi) run
  • Ironman Triathlon
    • 3.8 km (2.4 mile) swim / 180.2 km (112 mi) bike / 42.2 km (26.2 mi) run

Source: “The 4 Common Triathlon Distances”, by Peter Koch of The Active Times

Triathlon has developed into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and one that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.





This blog was written by Lucy Bowden. We’re thrilled to have Lucy as a bakslap guest blogger to share her insights as a Triathlete. We love her dedication to pursuing her passions and her love for the outdoors and adventure!


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