Triathlon Race Anxiety

  • Visualize a good race – I usually start getting butterflies and start to have a bit of anxiety when my race is about a month away. I start to look more intently at the instructions for the race in terms of my final preparation. Is this a wave start in the swim or is it a mass start? Is this a hilly course or a flat course? Is the weather going to be hot or cool? All of these questions begin to inhabit my thoughts and I start to get nervous. I then take the time to visualize the race in front of me. Sometimes races will have a video of the race that you can view to gauge a bit of the scenery and the setup of the race. I may even read some online messages about the race to get a better picture of what the race will be like. I then can spend the rest of the month anticipating many of the challenges of the race by visualizing a good performance in the race.
  • Be Prepared – Nothing gets you more jumpy or increases your heart rate more than panic. If you are unprepared going into the race then you will panic. I do not mean so much the training readiness because hopefully you have taken care of all you can take care of. I will address this issue in this post a bit later. I do mean your equipment needs to be ready. Is your bicycle properly maintained, are your running shoes in good order, do you have all of your nutritional needs together. If you find that you are unprepared when it comes to race day, then your anxiety will increase in a major way. I make sure I make a checklist for my races a couple of weeks away from the start date. Many times the list is the same as previous races, but have a little change or two. I then lay out all of my stuff a day or two ahead of time to make sure it is all there for me to take on race day. I do not need anything to be left out or my anxiety will climb.
  • Do the training – I get anxious about my training when I reach about 2 weeks to all the way up to the day before the race. My concern is always “Did I train enough?” “Did I put in enough time?” I even play mind games with myself like “Remember that brick workout that you didn’t have time for 5 weeks ago? That is going to be what keeps you from doing well.” The answer is “No it won’t,” but if I miss several workouts in a row or don’t complete the workouts in the plan I have with about 90% accuracy then there may be a problem. The best way to avoid this last minute issue about your training is to do the training. Make sure you have a solid plan to follow and do the training so that you can remind yourself when you start to doubt that you have indeed done the training. I know going into my Ironman race this year, I was really worried that I had not done enough swim training. I had not swam a 2.4 mile stretch of water before race day. I started to panic a bit, then I realized that I had done the prescribed training and I needed to trust the training. I would just remind myself that my training had indeed been enough. I do not like the attitude that says “well, I can’t do anything about it now.” I like to rather say during the training season “I am going to do the training now, so I don’t have to worry about the my training leading up to race day.”