How Triathletes Can Beat Pre-Race Anxiety
Race day, even for a seasoned triathlete can be a very daunting affair. I have even seen an athlete pull out of a race minutes before their wave starts because of their pre-race anxiety.
However, all of this anxiety can be managed to ensure that your race day experience is a positive one. It is very natural to be a little nervous before racing, however, the key is to ensure that these nerves don’t affect your ability to perform. I believe that it is important to acknowledge your race day anxiety weeks or even months before race day if possible. For most people, it is simply a matter of getting your triathlon race day ‘fears’ written down on paper and then working out a strategy to combat these.
Common fears that lead to anxiety are as follows:
- Swallowing water during the swim leg
- Being pulled underwater during the race
- Rough ocean waves
- You will not be able to make the full race distance
- I don’t want to disappoint my partner/coach/training partners
- I have never done this race/distance etc
- A preconceived notion of your performance expectation
By writing down all of your ‘fears’ you will be able to make a plan to give you more confidence and lessen any race day anxiety. Once you have identified these fears of yours you can then practice strategies to overcome them. Things such as a race simulation swim session where you and your training group do a 50-meter ‘race start’ all together can really help to make you more confident about triathlon race starts. Training in the ocean can also reduce any surf swimming fears you might have.
As aforementioned come race day it is very natural to be nervous. A few ‘Pro’ tips of the trade that can help you to stay calm and lessen anxiety are listed below.
1- Keep Busy
By keeping busy on race morning you will reduce the chance of your mind having the time to worry and stress. Arriving at your race around 1 hour before means that you will have just enough time to register, rack your bike and set up transition, go to the bathroom, do a short warm-up and then head to your race start. If you get to a race too early then you will find that you will be waiting around for a long time doing nothing, which is the time when you start to think about what is coming up.
2- Be prepared
By preparing your race gear the day before your event you will be less nervous about potentially forgetting any piece of race equipment. They say failure to prepare is preparing to fail so make sure that you are all set with everything you need for race day.
3- Everyone else is just as nervous
Remember, it is not just you who is nervous out there! Pretty much every other athlete racing is just as nervous as you so keep this in mind when you are toeing that starting line.
4- Have a plan
Having a preset race plan is a great idea if you suffer from triathlon race anxiety. List your goals for the event as well as a step-by-step plan of how you want to attack each section of the race. i.e Start the swim strong and settle into my rhythm. Breath every second stoke and look up every 8th stroke to make sure that I am still on course.
Everyone gets nervous before racing, however, being able to manage these fears/nerves is the key to reducing pre-race anxiety.
Good luck at your next race from all the team at Scody!