I’ve talked a lot about the physical training I’ve been doing towards my half-ironman triathlon, but another equally important aspect is the mental preparation for race day. It’s often said that triathlon is a test of the mind as much as the body. Quite simply, your mindset can make or break your race day.
It’s normal to feel nervous on the start line of a big race, but some simple strategies can help to take your mind off your fears…
Mental imagery is a powerful tool for athletes. Play out the race in your mind’s eye, see yourself racing strong and achieving your full potential. Picture yourself swimming smoothly, gliding through the water. Envisage yourself strong and powerful on the bike. Imagine yourself running towards the finishing line arms outstretched with the crowd calling your name. See yourself collecting that well-deserved medal and post-race beer.
Trust in your training
Look back over your training diary from the last 6-9 months and remind yourself of how far you have come. Reflect on all the tough sessions you have pushed through and how they have made you into a stronger, fitter, more capable athlete. Focus on the high points of your training and the sessions where you have performed well. Trust in the work you’ve done and bolster your confidence knowing you are ready for the race.
Listen to music
Obviously you can’t listen to music during a triathlon, but on route to the race it helps to listen to a motivating playlist. Create a playlist of high-energy, fast tempo tracks which will help get you pumped up and ready for the race. Listen to tunes which bring back positive memories- perhaps of past races when you have performed well. I sing to myself in my head as I’m swimming, cycling and running- I find it helps with my rhythm!
When the going gets tough during the race, it’s important to keep a positive mindset. Be your own supporter and cheer yourself along as you race. It’s helpful to memorize a few mantras to repeat to yourself- check out this guest post from Amy Stone for some inspirational phrases. Reverse any negative thoughts which come into your mind, for example I’ll tell myself “the water is cool and refreshing” rather than “it’s absolutely freezing”!
Control the controllables
Some aspects of race day are completely beyond your control, specifically the weather and other athletes on the course. Don’t waste energy worrying about these things- focus on what you can control. You can control how you think and how your feel. On race day, what will be will be and it comes down to how you react to it.
Ultimately we swim, bike and run because we enjoy it! Race with a smile on your face, don’t put to much pressure on yourself and celebrate your achievement!
How do you mentally prepare for a big race?