Pilots Takeaways for Endurance Athletes
1. Define and document in checklists the repeatable steps for standard activities (pre-flight inspections, communications taxi, takeoff, approach, landing, etc.). Review and repeat the checklist every time. 1. Create checklists well in advance for all the basics: items in your backpack, nutrition, pre-race clothes, survival gear, pre-race visualization reminders, travel info, feeling strong and positive during various points of the race, etc. Do this far in advance and you’ll save yourself stress on race day.
2. Define and document in checklists optimal reactions to emergency situations (stuck landing gear, medical emergency on board, fuel leak, conflicting instrument readings, etc.). Study these and practice them in a simulator. 2. Think about all scenarios that could threaten your desired race success. Get into brainstorming mode, but don’t allow the exercise to create anxiety. Just note potential situations with gear, your body, the weather, etc. Now, think about and document the best way you can imagine addressing the situation and the most positive outcome.
3. Commit to constant learning and continuous improvement. As pilots experience new scenarios, they update their knowledgebase, so that all pilots may benefit. In addition, they update their own ability to improvise a solution when a situation occurs that is not on a checklist. 3. As you expand your race and life experiences, update your checklists and mentally rehearse the new scenarios. Read race reports and other adventure stories; talk to other athletes and take away positive lessons to strengthen your knowledgebase.


Your time investment in each of the above 3 areas will pay dividends on race day. Visualization is a key practice toward strengthening your mind, especially in the second area. Practice these scenarios and conversations with yourself. Play a film of the scenario in your mind and then read the adversity checklist that you’ve prepared. See yourself encountering the challenge and then working through it step by step, toward a positive outcome each time. Put small blocks of visualization time in your training plan well in advance of the race. If you invest time in this area, then you will have significantly reduced the odds of being surprised during the race.


Some uncomfortable events will likely occur, regardless of how well you’ve prepared physically and mentally, but with the calm and professionalism of an experienced pilot, you’ll recall the adversity checklist response, apply it to the situation and thrive as you work through it.


Train hard and enjoy life to its fullest!


— Coach Jeff Grant