Triathlife With Jesse Thomas: Under Pressure

  • By Jesse Thomas
  • Published Oct 23, 2012
  • Updated Oct 31, 2014 at 4:40 PM UTC
Photo: Nils Nilsen

4. Use positive affirmations. Even with a great race plan, you’ll still have doubts and fears that crop up during a race. Can I make it? Am I going to slow down/die/throw up? OMG, this is terrible. I suck! I’ve thought (and still think) them all. So I use a method I first learned on “Saturday Night Live”: positive affirmations by Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character.

Stuart looks in the mirror and repeats to himself, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” I basically do the same thing, but instead of sitting in front of a mirror wearing a sweater tied around my shoulders, I’m in my race kit swimming, biking and running my butt off. Some of my most used phrases are:

You’re just chilling, no big deal.

You got this!

You’re killing it, dude! Nice work!

And yes, I say them out loud. The louder the better. It makes them more real, and it might even freak out the competition a little bit. Believe it or not, this stuff matters—and really works. It’s probably the most powerful tool I use every race. Triathlons are long and hard enough that you’ll always have feelings of self-doubt during stretches of the race. Using this tactic to derail those negative spirals can turn your race from a stinker into a success.

Jesse Thomas (@jessemthomas) is a second-year pro and the 2011 and 2012 Wildflower Long Course champion. He lives in Springfield, Ore., with his wife, American 5K champion Lauren Fleshman, and is the CEO of Picky Bars (

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