Over the last 27 years and hundreds of endurance race starting lines, I still get a nervous feeling at the start of every event no matter how big or small. There are so many different reasons individuals keep coming back to attempt new challenges but one thing we all share in common is the anticipation and anxiousness that comes when we arrive at the starting line.
Is there anything better than the feeling of a dark, humid early morning as you walk through the damp, dew soaked grass to the start of a triathlon? The normal pre-race ritual that all triathletes have done so many times to attempt to calm down include: bike check-in, pumping tires, continuously moving every single item a inch to the left or right to ensure the quickest transition time, body marking, lubing up and struggling into the wetsuit, reviewing everything in the mind again and again that’s what makes us keep coming back.
The music surrounding the venue, listening to the race director over the loud speaker again and again counting down time constraints just adds to the anxiety for so many athletes. Of course those final words, “time to start working your way down to the water for the start, please head to the beach now”. At this point the checking and re-checking of the transition area finally leaves the mind and on to the “last walk” to the water for the start of the race.
After a ceremonial national anthem of the host country, the Goosebumps and nerves are usually at an all time high. This is the best time for your last mental visualization while slowing down the mind to the present with a series of deep breathing exercises. There is nothing better and it will offer a calming feeling and keep the mind focused toward the task at hand.
We all enter the water and the next thing is to have a “final pee” when we enter, yes we all do it! Next thing up during this incredible buildup to the race start is the positioning of where to line up for the swim. Of course everyone has their own opinions of where to lineup, from the outside and sprint like crazy or start on the inside and hope for the best, etc. A few final words, a cheer from the athletes and the countdown begins, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and it’s show time.
There are so many methodologies on how to handle the stress and nervousness of the beginning of a race, one thing that always works for me – Smile. Yes, no matter what happens, the easiest way to eliminate just a bit of the race morning nervousness is to just smile and I occasionally will laugh during the swim section. Keep it simple: few deep breaths clear your mind to the present and Smile – it works! If you need ideas to create a mental training plan for your upcoming season to ensure your can handle the pre-race nerves, email me at Wayne@chiefgoalsofficer.com. Happy Racing!