Be a Champion!
How to handle A-race stress
You?ve trained long and hard for race day. You know
your body will respond best if you?re relaxed and
stress-free, but as your A race fast approaches, you
feel the anxiety taking over. It oozes from your
body ? you begin to lose focus and question your
Mental toughness on race day ? how you mentally
approach your A race ? is as important as proper
training and a sound nutrition plan. But how to stay
mentally tough when tension runs high?
?The optimal mindset for a long distance race where
you will push your limits (or in general for any tough
challenge in life) is based on three factors ?
confidence, focus, and that extra something to pull
you through,? says Gus Warnholtz, who with his wife,
Bettina, runs Racelab, a
?Confidence requires determination and an
unshakable belief. Sharp focus is possible with a
detailed plan and visualization of how that plan will
be carried out ? including contingencies. And at the
end, it's that extra something that comes from deep
inside that pulls you through.?
Bill Wilson, who along with his wife, Anne, runs
Scottsdale-based Camelback Coaching, advises
athletes on how to be ?mental champions.?
It?s important to visualize race day during training ?
create the racing experience in your mind by using all
your senses and thinking about your past successes,
Self-talk is important, too. Positive talk builds
confidence and optimism (You can do this!), while
negative talk, which should be avoided, promotes
anxiety. Instructive talk (Stay in your zone, keep the
cadence ticking) is good, too, and can help heighten
your focus and reinforce good technique, Wilson says.
Comes race day, relaxation techniques are a great
way to ease the mind and focus on your
performance. Wilson suggests deep breathing,
focused relaxation and visualization, and either
blocking out or embracing your surroundings,
depending on your personal desires.
Once the starting gun has gone off, Wilson says it?s
important to stay positive.
?Bad patches ? they will happen ? how do you want
to face them? Develop your mindset now,? Wilson
says. ?Visualize the unexpected too. Prepare for the
bad. This will improve confidence and reduce anxiety.
For example, visualize changing a flat in less than 5
minutes ? practice changing a flat. Visualize having
your goggles come off ? practice swimming without
Athletes also may want to develop a race-day
mantra to keep their spirits high and their mind
focused. And in the end, remember that, for most of
us anyway, triathlon is a way to have fun, stay in
shape and challenge ourselves -- so remember to
enjoy the experience!