The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

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The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

Welcome To The Inside Of My Head 

I recently raced the Pigman Sprint Tri just outside of Palo, IA. As with all my races, I try to focus on very positive self-talk before and during the race. So, welcome into my head. You’ll immediately notice there’s a bunch of room in there. Wide-open spaces. A few screws laying on the ground that used to hold stuff together.

Nevertheless, as you hear the sound of my voice echoing through the canyons of my skull, maybe it’ll be helpful and you can up your own positive self-talk in your next race. Hopefully, that race will be the Black Squirrel Triathlon at Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs if you live in this area.

So, what did the running conversation I had with myself sound like???

The Day Before

Glad I’m driving out to see the race site and course. Only about 20 minutes from our room in Cedar Rapids. Got the race course map. Good. Let’s see, where we are driving right now is part of the bike course. Whoa, this hill! Will need to pace myself going up this thing. Looks like there are two others so three climbs in the 15.5 miles. This recreation area looks nice! What a pretty place to race. Pigman has a whole lot of history. Can’t believe I’ve never done it before.

Packet pick-up via drive-through went quickly and was smooth thank goodness. Since I’m here I’ll drive down to the lake and check out the beach, starting line and transition areas. Looks great. We’ve got a slight uphill to start the run so I’ll need to ease into that. I’m glad I’m driving the run course. Yep, very flat and it’ll be nice to run through these campgrounds. Hopefully some of the campers will cheer for us. A bit of shade too. That’ll be nice.

The drive out here from Cedar Rapids was definitely worth it. The course recon brings confidence.

Waking Up Race Morning

Ugggghhhh….man, what time is it?? THAT was a short night but, it won’t affect my race. I’m glad I laid everything out the night before. Oh boy, it’s warm out there already but that’s OK. It’s only a sprint and I know how to deal with heat. I’ll be fine.

Driving To and Arriving

SO glad there’s a gas station right by the hotel. Man, I LOVE my coffee, fixed just right before a race. When that’s gone I’ll drink a bottle of HEED and Fully Charged mixed together. GOTTA hydrate on a hot, muggy day like this! 

Upbeat music! Yes!! I’m waking up. I love race morning! 

Setting Up Transition

Nice to get here early. This transition to-do list I have with me is such a help! OK, everything set and I see I’ll need to run up from the beach, to….yeah, that spot in T1, turn right and there’s my bike. Let’s walk it so we’re sure. Perfect.

One hour from start so it’s time for my Hammer Nutrition capsules. Let’s go find some more water. Man, is it hot and humid and it’s only 6:30am. Time to start warming up so let’s do that jog/stretch, jog/stretch routine. I’m feeling ready and my calf feels OK. Thankful for that. 

Time to pull on my XTERRA skinsuit, grab my cap and goggles and wait to be dismissed to the beach. Geezzz, this crazy skin suit shrunk two sizes somehow over the winter. Grin. Frown. 

Hmmm, row by row dismissal to the swim start…get in line and stay 6’ apart. No problem. Looks like a lot of dudes in my age group are all racked right here by me. I hope I don’t see any bikes when come into T2. 


There must be 150 little orange flags on wires on this beach, 6’ apart and serpentined back and forth across the beach. This is interesting but a great idea. OK, they’re sending each person in at about 10 second intervals so I’ve got about, a, 13 minute wait or so. Hey, there’s Andy Vasquez. “Hey Andy, go get ‘em buddy!” 

Look Linc, line up those buoys to the first right hand turn. Notice the chop. It’s a little breezy and, see that clearing on the other side of the lake? Yeah, sight that if you can’t see the buoys. The buoys and that clearing line up perfectly. You’ll be fine. 


Start easy… You missed almost three months of swimming so DO NOT start too fast and get out of breath. It’s a triangle so go easy to first turn, then crank it up to the second turn, then bring it home with all you’ve got left. 

You’re doing great! Smooth. Nice. Feeling good. First turn. Pick it up a bit. THINK!! Keep your kick small and up on the surface! 3 “Ts” – Toes (touching), Tiny (gap between my feet when kicking), Top – kick up close to the top of the water. Remember technique – EVF. EVF! Early Vertical forearm right after the catch. 

Second turn. Great job pacing this swim! Feeling good. Time to GO! Almost back to the beach. Remember when you hit the beach, goggles up, hit watch, then start to peel off skin suit. Keep stroking til your fingers touch the ground. Don’t stand up too soon.


Run! Go! Yeah, it a long way up to the bikes but get going! Small choppy steps. Cap and goggles off. Good. Off the sand and grass and onto the pavement. Watch for rocks! There’s the FELT bike. Strip skin suit off. Helmet on. Here we go! My favorite part of any race. There’s the mount line. Let’s GO!


Feet on top of shoes. 100 yards til first right turn, then down a hill. Get your feet in your shoes now. Nice job! Got our speed up quickly down this first hill and over the dam. Man, I love riding! Ok, a small hill to get up and out of the rec area then a BIG downhill. Let’s fly! What goes down must come up. Ha. OK, pace this wisely…you’ve got two more climbs after this one.

Excellent work up this hill, now fly down that other side and enjoy a long flat section. Nice mph! You are doing great. Fly’in. Oh yeah, the breeze is at my back right now. Ah, there’s the next climb that takes me to the turn around. SAVE something for the run. Spin up this hill!

Now, back down and a flat 5 miles then the final climb. Focus on technique! Wipe and lift. Wipe and lift. Elliptical motion, not stair-stepper. Relax your upper body. Keep drinking. You, are doing great!!

There it is. The final climb. Spin up this thing then fly back to T2. Final turn, feet out of shoes. Well done. Dismount. Fantastic ride!


Work from bottom up…shoes on, belt, visor and we’re off. Not the fastest ever but not bad for not racing for a year. 


OK, ease into this. It’s HOT and HUMID. Geezzz. Blazing. Focus on technique. Slight lean forward from the ankles. Run tall. Cadence of 180. Check watch. Good cadence. Lousy pace. Pick it up. Water station! Yes. Take Hammer’s Electrolyte Caps…every aid station. Second mile faster than the first. Nice. Now push this last one. Oh great…a long straightaway with zero shade before the final turn to the finish line. Get ready cause you might melt down. Nawww, you’re running the fastest now so push through this heat. There’s the finish. Calf held up and we survived the heat. Yep, look upward – thank you!


Quick, find some shade and cold water. Dang, it’s hot. Well, after not racing for a year and for being a number of lbs. over anything I’d consider ideal race weight and for doing only long-course training this year and considering the heat index which is almost 100 now, this sprint went pretty well. Hope I won my age group. Sweet! I did and the age group under me too. Wow, super thankful. Good job Linc. Certainly not the speed of ’16, ’17 or ’18 but, you’re getting older so cut yourself some slack. You did well buddy!

Lincoln Murdoch
Lincoln Murdoch
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Lincoln has been competing in running events for 40 years and racing in triathlons for 25 years. He is a 3x USAT National Champion, 14x USAT All-American and 3x ITU World Championships Top-Ten finisher. Lincoln is passionate about helping athletes meet their goals through books, online resources, coaching and motivational speaking. You can learn more at
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