Kona: The Mind Games

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Kona is nature itself. There is nothing in that nature that is confronting, it is as it is. It’s totally neutral. It’s power in its rawest sense. Kona serves up nothing we are not prepared to face physically.

What Kona does do though is force us to face our own inner demons of conditioning and judgement. What demons you say? I am not enough, I am not worthy, I am not fast enough, I haven’t done enough, my taper wasn’t perfect. Kona makes us face ourselves, our conditioning and our belief systems. In essence the only war that is going on in Kona is the war of the mind, inside our own heads x 2,000 people.

I look at my own journey many years ago in my first Kona experiences. I can vividly remember my first race there in 1991, brand new to Ironman, having only done one Ironman before it. Young, dumb, wide eyed and the experience was tremendous, I had no expectations and I loved the natural power of Kona, in fact I still do. Because I was open I had a great day, it was just a great experience and a faster race than my first Ironman. The next Ironman I did was a lot faster and so was every other race I did that year, all of a sudden I went from participant to potential top 10. The weight of that expectation I felt heavily in Kona on my second attempt, and I followed Scott Tinley up to Hawi. That was a huge mistake; he was older, way stronger and far more experienced. I was in way over my head because I was lost in the mind and I blew it.

The island was exactly the same as it was the year before, but my inner state was different. The control, the compression, had destroyed any chance I had for a great race, because I had lost flow with the island itself. I was out of synchronicity, and when you are out of sync with Kona, you are essentially out of the race.

The island is neutral in that it is the way it is regardless of conditions. However we are not, my arrogance had cost me the race. But it’s the same for all of us when we look through the window of the mind. My future, My past, My arrogance, My fears.
The moment is as it is, the island is as it is. That’s an indisputable fact, it is reality.

What then is the best way to approach the race? NOW the simple powerful act of working with what is front of you right in this moment. Maximising the moment. However your mind doesn’t want that, it wants to run the show and it’s our belief system that gets in the way, mostly through our conditioning and past.

We wear this conditioning, but this conditioning is an illusion.
So the answer is to transcend the mind and merge with what is real, we can choose to make our inner state part of the environment. We are anyway, we have just forgotten it.
So let’s look at what intimidates you really about Kona and the Ironman. Is it the heat? The wind? The humidity? No, these are simple practicalities of the race.

Let’s make this clear, you are intimidated by your own thoughts. You have to try to become aware of this because it is the greatest source of suffering for an athlete on that black top. Get it straight, you are suffering under the tyranny of your own mind and thinking. Realise also that so is everyone else in this race. We polarise each other into thinking this way and its bullshit.

But herein lies your opportunity for a shift that can take you forward massively in this race. Turn your back on this illusion and just deal with what is on your plate in this moment only. Be part of that incredible environment and the whole dynamic of your experience changes. You go from the sufferer to the King or Queen.

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You wield your inner power through merging it with the power of that island. It’s as simple as a choice to work with the moment and be truly in that experience boots and all, instead of lost in the mind with its judgements and negative thoughts based on a past that is no longer real.

This race and this Island do not exist to kill you as the mind would have you believe; only the mind can do that.
We can and do analyse Kona before-hand. We spend weeks, even months, we could analyse it for a 1000 years but you will still have to experience it for yourself. That analysis itself is then not real either because it is essentially a projection into the future. Put too much stock in that future and you are doomed before you start. That’s the truth of it.

The Island is not noisy; it is stillness in its rawest form. If you match that stillness on race day you will match the energy that is already present in this special place.

The Island is indiscriminate, it can help you or it can hinder based on how you approach it with your own inner climate. If it hinders you or tortures you, that is a choice that you are making through the mind and its judgements.

“You are determining your reality out there”

Just get down to the bare essentials of YOU and the ISLAND. No future, no past, no little intense me and my story. We are not talking to the mind now, we are dealing directly with reality, just leave all the bullshit behind and be with the moment the way it is served up to you.

Misconception, false identity. Why this loyalty to what does not serve you? Why be a servant? You are the master and the mind is your servant, not the other way around. Get out there and overcome the false you, and you can’t help but feel the magic of Kona.

Grant Giles

15 years exprerince working in an online coaching capacity both with age group and with professional athletes in a training camp environment. My passion is the future of young upcoming pro triathletes moving to an international level.