Mental Strength

Mental Strength

One's own rhythm. The feeling of being in harmony with your body. Honesty with yourself creates mental strength. Every competition with all its ups and downs challenges the mind. It is the art of listening to oneself that allows the athlete to build mental strength.

"The rhythm and the feeling for the own body is crucial." 

How important is the balance between mental and physical strength? What influence does the training group have on how you feel? How do you deal with ups and downs in competition? In relation to the 70.3 Ironman in Poland, Jan talks about the importance of physical fitness in harmony with the mind and gives further insights into the preparations for the upcoming race.

 Ryzon Jan Frodeno Mentale Stärke

Your highlight so far this season was the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt. Under extreme conditions you were able to defend your title there. Did you win the race in your head?

Jan Frodeno (JF): Every Ironman challenges the mind enormously, besides the obvious physical efforts. The race in Frankfurt challenged me both mentally and physically. Drama on all sides. Tactics. Battle, man against man. A race that will be remembered forever. But these races are exactly why I continue to do this sport. When I'm standing at the top after such an eventful day, it's even more awesome. 

The Ironman Frankfurt has once again shown that besides the physical condition, the mental form also plays a big role. How would you weight these two factors?

JF: It's hard to say. An unfit body doesn't win races, and the same applies if the head doesn't play along. If the head is flat, a fit body won't win a pot of flowers either. So it should be balanced.

How do you prepare for extreme situations in the race to be able to make the best possible decisions?

JF: I know before we start that the lows are going to come. The only question is how to deal with them. It's important that you don't let yourself get rattled by the lows or lose your nerve because of setbacks. Like, for example, my ride into the botany at the Ironman in Frankfurt, where I lost my rations. Likewise, of course, you can't want too much when you're overdoing it for once. It's all a matter of experience and patience on such a long day. 

How do you feel about loneliness during long training sessions or races?

JF: I am rarely alone in training. I usually train with my training partners and, when I'm not, I enjoy the peace and nature around me. Always training alone would not be for me. In competition, it is clear that you are on your own but, nevertheless, I am and never feel lonely there. There is always something going on around you.

To what extent does your inner rhythm also play a role, besides the meters and data? 

JF: The rhythm and the feeling for your own body are super important in the race. That's what I train for day in and day out. In competition, unlike in training, I don't wear a heart rate belt. I'm sure I could do a decent race without a bike computer or watch, but it gives me a certain security to pace myself correctly and to act correctly in the ups and downs. 

A competition also costs a lot of mental energy. How long is the regeneration phase to be estimated?

JF: Much longer than the physical regeneration. After a strenuous Ironman, it can happen that I still can't follow conversations properly after a week because I drift off quickly. The body, on the other hand, recovers much faster.

What part does mental training play?

JF: I don't do classic mental training. My mental training is the daily physical training. I have learned a lot about myself over the years and practice this in my daily training.

Do you exchange ideas on this with your training partner of many years, Nick Kastelein?

JF: I talk about everything with Nick. About mental, as well as about physical aspects. But, of course, also about trivial nonsense or the latest gossip. We are side by side for hours. It's also important [to note] that you can talk, but you don't have to. It's also okay if one of us doesn't feel like talking.

Jan Frodeno Ryzon Nick Kastelein Nan Oliveras

How do you benefit from the routine within your training group? 

JF: I think we all benefit from our group. It makes us all stronger and, even though it sounds weird, we try not to get into a routine. Variety is the key.

What value do you place on each other?

JF: I'm definitely the "veteran" to beat. If I have a bad day, the guys let me feel it directly.

"Mental strength is being honest with yourself."

Do you have any tips on how athletes can create mental balance?

JF: If you are really honest with yourself, you are certainly your own best mental coach. But being honest with yourself is the real challenge.

On the way to Hawaii, you have two races ahead of you -- Gdynia and in Allgäu. Why exactly these two races?

JF: Both races fit very well into the planning of the Kona preparation and, of course, I feel like it. Poland is to be taken more seriously compared to the Allgäu Triathlon . Allgäu is only "Zwecks des Gaudi." 

In Poland, you will be competing against Nick Kastelein. Will you prepare together as usual? Or would that influence your focus?

JF: Until departure, we do everything together as always. On site, everyone does their [own] thing because every race routine is very individual. In the race, everyone fights for themselves.

How do you manage to switch off besides training? Are there conscious times when you block out everything else? If so, how do you organize this time?

JF: After big races, I usually take a few days off and go on holiday with the family. At that time, I don't train according to a training plan, I just do what I feel like. That has a lot, and often, to do with food or coffee.

Finally: The Allgäu Triathlon falls on your birthday. Will your family and friends be there? How does that make it special for you or are you too focused anyway? 

JF: Unfortunately, my family won't be there, that would be too stressful for such a short stay. But besides Nick, my training partner, Nan Oliveras will also be there. And, as always, my physio and my manager. We will spend the evening together and enjoy a good meal and a bottle of wine.

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