Pre race jitters – what are they and how to control them
We all know the feeling. Walking towards the race start line and your butterflies start fluttering – sometimes gently, other times at crippling break neck speed.
The butterflies then wake up the your inner demons and then they start talking to you “What are you doing?”, “We are not ready for this”, “My God look at the size of him/her – we are out of depth”
Soon you are wishing you could be ANYWHERE else – you are suffering from the Pre race jitters!
But here is some good news – we all suffer from them and there is even better news – there are things you can do to control them long before they start.
Prior to race day
- Find your reason/motivation for you taking on the challenge in the first place This will not only help keep you focused during training but can be used as “power button” when spirits are flagging – Print it off – post it somewhere prominent – constantly remind yourself (on race day I actually write it on my arm!)
- Draw up mantras – Mantras to me are short powerful statements that help focus your mind during tough times e.g. for me my swim mantra is “always on feet” and run mantra is “I have this – lets go” – use these on the day.
- Keep a log of training data, milestone rides/runs and how you felt during/after these – This charts your progress and reminds you how far you have come and what you can do.
- Make sure to practice race specific elements in training As come race day you will know what to expect pace/equipment wise and not face any nasty stress rising surprises on the day.
In the lead up to race day
- Map/prepare/familiarise – Make sure you take time to plan out logistics/know the course/registration times/start times to the point you are on auto pilot on for the days leading up to the race – energy lost stressing is energy lost.
- Look at how far you have come – Review your training logs/milestones from all your completed training – it can come as a nice surprise how many hours/miles you have covered already – reassure yourself you are prepared.
- Map out a plan with A, B and C goals Do be aware of your perfect day goals ie if everything goes 100% right on the day but also have B and C goals i.e. if a few things go wrong what are the fall back times if you encounter minor or major set backs – i.e. know your plan and be prepared to adapt
- Prepare visualisation option Head to the finish line and take a mental picture – imagine yourself closing in on this on the race – imagine the cheers – imagine the fanfare – this is what you want!
- Stick to your routines – Don’t try anything new or exotic on race day even if the chiselled looking German triathlete you met at registration swore blind to you that a gallon of prune juice for breakfast is THE secret to a sub 5 IRONMAN bike split.
- Once more time look at how far you have come – Have numbers in your head – Say things to yourself like “this is nothing – over the last 6 months I have cycled XX miles Y number of times – I have this!”.
- Smile/relax/feel positive/think positive/be positive – When reminding yourself of the hard yards you have completed to get here – think of the race start as your reward – smile/enjoy/chat to other competitors – this is your day.
- Use your mantras and visualisations when you need to Repeat your mantras in your head (or out loud if you prefer) to keep you focussed particularly when you feel your demons winning the mental battle – likewise remind yourself of your motivation/visuals to perk you up if you feel your spirits flagging
- Stick to the plan Find reassurance in you have a strategy and contingencies
- Embrace the butterflies Recognise that the butterflies are not a bad thing – they show you respect the race and can be a powerful force – you just need to get them flying all together in the right direction!
You got this – LETS GO!
Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 15 years of endurance racing including numerous Ironman finishes (to date).
Realising this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Ironman University, Triathlon Ireland and Training Peaks level 2 certified and in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year.
Browse his pre-built training plans for Strength, 70.3 and IRONMAN or if you have queries on personal coaching/training plans you can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org