The mental side of racing is critical. Many athletes put tons of effort into their training but they are a mess on race day. Everything from pre-race jitters to negativity during the race can lead to poor performance. I’ve worked for many years on making sure my mind is in the right place on race day. And, really I practice this EVERY DAY in training. Because as every elite athlete knows, “As you train, so shall you race.”
The key to racing fast is racing “relaxed.” Anxious tight muscles can’t perform well. So you have to be able to put yourself in a place of calm readiness. Part of this is making sure you’ve adequately prepared for your race or done all that you were able to do in the available time. There is no such thing as perfect training and every athlete thinks they should have done more. But what really matters is making the most of whatever you’ve got on race day. And, that means relaxing and trusting your body to get the job done. In addition, you have to ‘Control the Controllables’ and let the rest go. Here are some examples:
· Can’t control the weather (wind, rain, heat, cold): so swim, bike and run in ALL conditions during training so you are prepared on race day.
· Can’t control pot holes or speed bumps on bike course, but you CAN make sure you know how to bunny hop or move over them smoothly by riding outside a lot.
· Can’t control things that come up unexpectedly on race day but you can practice quickly calming down and applying your energy to either solving the situation or making the best of it.
One of the most important lessons that triathlon teaches (and any sport for that matter) is that the faster you accept and adapt to conditions as they are, the sooner you can focus your energy where it needs to be rather than wishing for a different set of circumstances. And, believe me, this takes just as much practice as it does to swim, bike, and run.