Mental Fitness: A conversation with Vanessa Soulavy

Vanessa Soulavy is a Venezuelan athlete that kicks ass as an Ironman certified coach, triathlete, Founder of 101 training, 4 times classifier to the Ironman World’s, and Powerful Brand Ambassador. We can go on and on praising her as an athlete and individual, but we choose to let her voice be heard in this week’s post. We all know that being fit is virtually a must nowadays; and to be truly fit one most conquer the physical as well as the mental aspects of fitness. Vanessa knows all about pursuing and achieving mental fitness due to her vast experience as an athlete and coach, having to overcome all sorts of situations. From sharing her motivations with teammates and trainees, to enduring the pain only Ironman athletes know, to having to pass on the World’s last year while recovering from an injury, Vanessa is, for sure, an expert on mental fitness. This blog post is all about being fit. But there is no way of being fit without mental fitness. What is your take on this? I agree 100%.  Endurance sports require a ton of focus and “tunnel vision,” to not give up when “pain” and doubt begin to affect your game. In a 6 hour race--or 12-hour-race in the case of a full Ironman--only those who are able to conquer their mind will conquer the race. How do you think being mentally fit helps your athletic performance? And vice versa? I think being [mentally] fit helps give your mind the confidence to believe that  your body is ready to do this [and every challenge you embark upon]. Being fit mentally but not physically is still a great advantage over those who aren’t fit at all. But, you’d still be missing a part of the equation. [Maybe you could focus on mental fitness while you work up the courage to conquer the physical fitness aspect of your life] You’ve qualified four times for the Ironman 70.3 Worlds; but last year you couldn’t compete due to an injury. Were you mentally fit to deal with this? How did this setback strengthened you mentally as an athlete? Do these instances, where being mentally fit is a must, affect your personal--non-athletic--life? Do you apply the same mental strength for your athletic and personal life? I thought I was mentally tougher  until the injury happened [Vanessa laughs, showing she’s over the pain of having missed this opportunity. This is what makes her a pro, right?].  This was very hard to deal with as going to the World’s was my ultimate goal after having a baby. The pain made me stronger. With this new found strength came new goals, and even more motivation! Mishaps in the fitness world also affect your personal life. After all, being an athlete is a BIG part of my life, my routine, and a source of daily motivation--Especially in my role of a coach, which adds a little extra pressure to the equation! Because both--the fitness and non-fitness--worlds merge into my life, I’ve learned to employ my mental fitness into other aspects of life. It is extremely useful! My family can assert: there is no giving up in my house! From your perspective, what is the most important aspect of being mentally fit for any athlete? Confidence!! Being mentally fit gives you confidence that you are READY to take on the task ahead of you. [So always trust yourself and give your best because you CAN.] What advice can you give our readers who wished to work on their mental, as well as physical, fitness? How can they best include being mentally fit in their personal fitness journey? Wow...tough one! The way I see it, it has to do a lot to with how you’ve been mentored and trained in the past. If mental toughness techniques have been introduced to you early, on you’re already halfway there. But, of course, it’s never too late![It looks, from Vanessa’s perspective, mental fitness is all about keep a habit, and lots of discipline].  Meditating and having a coach are always rather helpful to improve and maintain mental fitness! We’ve mainly focused on the mental aspect, but physical fitness is also of great interest to our readers. What would be your best advice to them in terms of training, discipline and best athletic practices? I would say NO EXCUSES. Sounds overused [we know,] but it’s the best advice I can give both as a coach and an athlete. No, your not too fat to start working out; or too lazy; or too weak. Nor are you too busy to start and keep on going. You just need to figure out what routine works for you and GO WITH IT. No excuses…   If you are looking for some motivation, or if you are trapped in a filled-of-excuses cycle that’s hard to quit, go follow Vanessa on Instagram (@vsoulavy), and her team (@101training) for some inspo--you might even dare to join them! Prove yourself, and others, how Powerful you are!
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