October 02, 2017 - We all have our own form of anxiety before a big race. However, it doesn't mean we can't do anything to minimize that anxiety. Remember, we can only focus on the things we can control. ALL THE TRAINING IS DONE! Keep yourself focused and sane at the same time with these tips.
Mental fitness for race weekend
As much as triathletes enjoy the triathlon lifestyle, when it comes to the actual racing we tend to get nervous. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but for many of us, we are programed to get anxious when we have worked toward a goal and the day has come to execute.
If you are one of the many who suffer from the 48-hours-pre-race-through-the-start-of-the-swim-jitters, the following are helpful tips for managing this affliction so that you can relax as much as possible those couple of days leading up to a race: Here are 6 ways to keep yourself sane.
1) Make a list of everything you need for the race ahead of time, pre-nerves, so that you are not scrambling around for a rubber band or shoelace last minute! Unlike, say, running a marathon - three disciplines equal a long list of items needed to compete, and you do not want to end up forgetting a key piece of the puzzle that leads to cheering instead of racing.
2) Get your bike race-ready at least a week out so that you can do some test riding the week leading up to the race. Whether this involves a trip to the mechanic or your own garage, better to trouble shoot a rubbing brake or maladjusted derailleur PRIOR to heading to the race.
3) Create a weekend outline ahead of time. Review the athlete guide and make a list of locations and times for the athlete briefing, transition area(s), hotel, packet pickup, etc. After creating this weekend outline, fill in pre-race workouts and meals.
4) Sleep when you are tired the night before the race. A 4am race day wake-up call is going to hurt no matter how early you go to bed, and we all know the adrenaline will be pumping in the AM despite the lack of Zzzzs. Don’t force yourself into bed at 7pm if you are not one of those people who miraculously sleeps on command. You will just lay there and ponder how little sleeping you’re accomplishing.
5) Eat an early dinner the night before the race. Sometimes the nerves can tie up the stomach, so this ensures you do not feel full when you wake up. Even if you fuel properly leading up to the race and your glycogen stores are ready to rock, getting that sufficient breakfast down the morning of the race should be considered a part of your race day fueling plan.
6) Breath mindfully as you are waiting for the start of the swim (and apply this to life in general!). This can be the most nerve-racking point of the weekend, and you do not have to be a Yogi to utilize this relaxation practice. (Click HERE for a brief how-to.) When the gun goes off it is totally normal to feel that heart rate shoot up and your breathing quicken. However. try to direct your focus on the first buoy without spending too much time worrying about the others splashing around you. No matter the race distance, you still have a long journey ahead and the start of the swim is not going to make or break your day. Once you settle in, time to turn on autopilot and execute!