The Sounds of Silence…
No, I won’t be banging my drum about how soothing it can be to warm down to the dulcet tones of Simon & Garfunkel – although Hazy Shade of Winter is actually pretty decent to keep pace to! This month is all about training ‘au naturele’. To clarify, this is not some form of topless gardening, but competing in long distance events, with nothing to listen to but the sounds of nature.
When I speak to a lot of people about triathlons, they often say one of the hardest things for them would be the fact you cannot listen to music along the way, and they can only run when listening to music. In fact I believe is it against International Triathlon Rules to have any sort of music player during a race, which could lead to disqualification. I guess the main reason is safety, although it does not apply to all races.
I was nearly caught out during the Birmingham Half Marathon last year, assuming music was as outlawed as an arrow wielding East Midlander, but stood in the queue to get off the line realised most people had earphones in. Fortunately I had an old iPod shuffle in my pocked I had been using to warm up, although with no screen or playlist prepared it was a bit hit and miss. My unexpected highlight was puzzling over the intro to one particular track was until about 30 seconds in when I realised it was the theme tune to Birmingham-based 90s TV show Gladiators, which was actually perfect and is now a permanent feature for on the list!
But back to triathlons. Whilst on a shorter distance race such as a sprint you don’t really notice its absence, once you are off for a number of hours it can be strange. I tend to have particular playlists for training – hence the music of the month blogs – but also try and work out without anything to get used to it, so when plunged into a 4 hour solo bike ride with no one to speak to except to shout to the jokers zooming past in their aero-helmets, you do not end up going crazy. This is part of the reason I end up writing so many of these blogs!
Top triathletes such as Chrissie Wellington often talk about their ‘mantras’ they use to keep them motivated on even the longest distances. These could be sayings, poems, or lyrics, repeated in their heads (or probably out loud if there is space). Given that full Iron distance races can take up to 18 hours you need something to stop going crazy. Chrissie’s for example is the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling, which she writes on her water bottles as a reminder in difficult times.
I am going to let you into a bit of an open secret. I have my own mantra, probably about as simple as it gets, but it has worked every time so far for me. It is simply two words that Rocky’s trainer Duke repeats during the montages in Russia: ‘No Pain’. As soon as I think that, it takes me straight to the Rocky theme tune and images of success, strength and achievement. It even helps get through actual pain, after all if you look what Sly goes through than anything seems possible, although Sunday’s race will really put this to the test.
To paraphrase Andy in Shawshank: “That’s the beauty of music. It’s in your head, and they can’t take that away from you”. No Pain.