You may have heard the saying, “your mind will quit a thousand times before your body does,” and for such an enduring sport like the triathlon, the statement couldn’t be more true. That’s why building mental toughness through exhaustion and deep struggle is such a significant fuel for your training.

We often talk about how to prepare our bodies for such an intense multi-sport, including our training schedule, nutrition, athletic gear, and recovery. But the psychological side is just as crucial and can determine your overall success. When you push yourself beyond your limits and into the terrains of discomfort, it can evoke feelings of distress. However, through gruelling work, mental toughness can be taught.

In this article, we will explore ways to strengthen your mental toughness and the multitude of benefits that follow.

What is Mental Toughness?

According to Graham Jones, mental toughness is described as a psychological resource—natural or developed—that empowers athletes to cope better, remain determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure (Jones, 2010). It’s also comprehended as one of the highest ranked psychological characteristics that determines your overall performance success (Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002). In other words, having insurmountable willpower, skill, and resilience is what sets those who are victorious apart from the rest.

In addition to tackling the three disciplines, A triathlon is also – essentially – a battle between you and your mind. Once you learn to harness this power, your performance will transcend beyond your doubts, negative self-talk, and fatigue. 

Here are three ways you can train your mind to become your most formidable opponent: 

Positive Self- Talk

There’s no doubt that our minds are even more powerful than we can fathom, but they can either work for us or against us. When you’re tackling a demanding sport like a triathlon, your body is undergoing a lot of stress. And during these stressful times, your mind is more susceptible to negative thoughts. Having some empowering phrases can provide a positive anchor during challenging moments. It’s natural for self-defeating thoughts to slip through the cracks, but if you’re equipped with ways to challenge and reframe them, you are more likely to have a successful experience. 

Practise The Skill

Like any other skill, mental toughness must be practised. It is a muscle that can be developed and strengthened over time with consistency. It’s easy to push yourself when you feel inspired and motivated, but this feeling doesn’t always persist. You can strengthen your mental toughness by building daily habits, whether it's sticking to a schedule, being consistent even when it’s inconvenient, or doing an extra rep in the gym because you know you have more in the tank but it feels uncomfortable—anything that propels you to overcome a challenge will help build your mindset.

Embrace the Struggle

There are no shortcuts when it comes to dominating a triathlon race. We know it’s going to be tough, but we also know that it will test our courage, develop our perseverance, and help us grow. Allowing ourselves to experience the inevitable and going into the race knowing it will bring exertion and pain will lead us to push barriers we never thought possible. It's where our strength is built. 


In conclusion, mental toughness is a crucial skill that can be honed over time, whereas motivation is fickle. Athletes who possess mental toughness are more consistent and build their habits through overcoming obstacles in their daily lives. It takes constant effort, delayed gratification, and sacrifice, but ultimately, it is what sets them apart.