There’s very few athletes that can honestly say that they don’t get nervous on race day. For a lot of athletes, their entire year of training comes down to one day. One race with everything on the line. It’s close to impossible not to feel some nerves. Use these tips to kick start your race instead of letting nerves inhibit your performance.
Your biggest weapon? Show up to race day prepared. I would say that the majority of people are nervous on race day because they know they didn’t put in the work. But if you follow the training program and do the little things you’re going to significantly cut prerace nerves. That preparation goes for the logistics of racing as well. Your gear and nutrition for the race should be prepared the night before. You should be familiar with the race venue, how to get there and know how much time you’re going to need in transition so you can get to the start line in time.
Make it positive. I’ve seen people in tears, full blown panic attacks and the verge of puking before races. Positive or negative, energy is still energy. Freaking out is just riling up your stomach and throwing energy you’ll need out the window. Instead, use the emotion of the start to your benefit. Rely on your friends and family for support. If you don’t have spectators with you, talk to the thousand other triathletes standing with you. Just interact. Something as simple as talking about where you’re from and what your goals are will get your mind off of the uncertainty of racing.
Know your game plan. “I’m just gonna wing it” is probably one of the scariest things we can hear as coaches. You need a game plan. It incites confidence in turn reducing nerves. When you start feeling nervous, refer back to your game plan. Think about what you need to do at each stage of the race and visualize yourself executing it. Check out last week’s article to learn how to develop your game plan.
It’s not likely that you’ll completely eliminate your nerves. In fact, some nerves are good. It’s reassurance as to how much value the race has. It motivates you to give it your all. Use these tactics to find the right balance and I assure you that you’ll get in the water with more excitement and confidence instead of nerves.