It’s the thick of race season and racing is on a lot of triathletes’ minds. In the minutes before the race starts, the athlete’s mind is likely the thing that’s racing the most. Some triathletes experience so much pre-race emotion that it can affect their performance during the race. If you are one of these triathletes, here are three things you can do to engage your mind to help you in the moments before you start your race.
Let’s assume that you have completed a proper warm up. Some say that the shorter the race, the longer the warm up. Run for a few minutes and include a few strides to shake out the wrinkles. Swim a few hundred meters, including a few short bursts, to get used to the water and alert your body to the work that’s about to begin. D3 Multisport Coach Simon Butterworth explains the why and how of a useful warm up here, http://d3multisport.com/race-day-planning/hard-lessons-of-not-warming-up-pre-race-why-a-warm-up-is-important/ Once you are warmed up and ready for your wave to enter the water, do these things:
1. Run a short video in your mind’s eye of the race experience you want to have. Make this short movie full color, panoramic in size, and seeing the race unfold as from a movie camera that shoots you as the centerpiece of the movie. Make the movie go exactly as you reasonably hope the race will go. Start at the beginning, end at the end, and enjoy how the movie shows you as your race unfolds.
2. Get your chin up. Look up and around. If you are experiencing self-talk or internal dialog, cast your eyes up above the horizon. Most people who are in internal dialog are looking down toward the ground (or water if you are waiting for your wave to start). You can break out of this internal chatter by raising your gaze. Look again toward your sighting landmarks, watch for the hot air balloons launching and notice the color of the morning sky. Your inner voice will suspend or quiet down, which lets you complete the final step.
3. Breathe. Psychologist Fritz Perls is quoted as saying, “Fear is excitement without breathing.” So, if you feel something like fear, take a few big inhale-exhale sequences, two or three, and feel the fear melt away and turn into excitement.
Then go race, and have a great time.