Manage Your Mind On Race Morning
Many athletes battle anxiety at race venues when the noise, energy and distractions surround them in transition. Managing your thoughts begins when you ensure you are organized and prepared for the race – this will minimize race morning stress and maximize your ability to remain calm and focused. Here’s how to prepare yourself for your best race: A list outlining what I am going to eat/drink, and when, is how I start to formulate my race plan. Then I look to landmarks and mile markers to decide how I am going to approach riding and running a course as fast as I can. Other competitors are useful to feed off to make sure you keep your energy high throughout the day, but it is best to keep within the confines of your race plan, confident that it will get the most out of your fitness. If you find your result disappointing, but you stuck to your strategy, you can then readjust your plan for the next race based on what you have learned. In longcourse racing it is important to focus on your own best race strategy. In shorter races you need to react to what your competitors are doing and what is going on around you.
The night before the race, write a list of all the things you need to do on race morning right up to and including the start. Organize this list in chronological order with specific times for each activity to keep you on time and help you get to the race with all of your equipment, bottles and clothing. Include details on this list as to when you wake up, eat breakfast, use the potty, pack the car, drive to the venue, set up transition, put on your wetsuit, kiss your significant other and start your warm-up. If there is extra time in your schedule you will have time to chat with your competitors before the race – if you are running behind you know to stay focused on your pre-race tasks. The more detail and specifics you put on your list, the less likely you are to forget anything and you’ll also stay calm and focused on what you want to do in the race.
With the ner ves and excitement buzzing at the race venue, it can be difficult to stay calm before the start of the race. Overexcitement and over-stimulation can be stressful and make you unnecessarily tight and anxious before the start. Find a quiet spot (or create some quiet with earphones and open space) and clear your mind of all thoughts other than your intentions for the day. Keep your thoughts positive and focused on how you will execute your plan. Being calm and confident is important to make sure you don’t let your nerves distract you from expressing your fitness. I like to have confidence that my body knows exactly what to do as long as I stay calm and let it happen. Know that your body will do exactly what it has been trained to do as long as you don’t overthink and get in your own way.
You cannot control the outcome of the race. The only things within your control are your own preparation and your own execution, so focus on maximizing these deliverables to achieve the outcome you want. Even if you have a race beyond expectations, sometimes the outcome doesn’t match how great the effort was. Focus on execution in order to consistently race well and, over time, have great results.
It is also important not to start evaluating the race before it is over. Maintain your focus and give it your best effort from start to finish without evaluating, judging or easing up at any point mid-race.