There’s a great deal of fear involved in your first triathlon. There’s the obvious fear of bodily harm, yes. On the swim alone you can get kicked in the face, punched in the face, elbowed in the face, run your face into a stingray, run your face into a shark… you get the idea. Training is hard and uncomfortable and when you’re in the middle of doing the thing it kind of makes you wonder why you signed up for a triathlon in the first place.
I have these thoughts. And when I have these thoughts, I give myself what I call a “Mental Slap.”
The mental slap is where I force my brain to refocus on the task at hand. When I start thinking about the scary things in the open water, or the cars whizzing by as I pedal up a hill, or how hot it might be during a run, I shout STOP!
Well, I shout in my head. I don’t want people to stare.
I tell myself to stop and I refocus on why I am doing this thing. Usually my reason has something to do with getting better. I want to beat my last bike time, or feel more confident in the water, or improve my run pace. During my first race, quite literally paying the non-refundable race fee was my motivator to keep going. I had paid for the thing, so I was going to finish the thing.
I encourage you to find your own mental slap. Figure out why you chose to do this thing, and keep it in mind. When you find yourself having that moment of doubt, or the panic starts to rise, mentally slap yourself and say stop. Then remind yourself why you’re here and what you’ve set out to accomplish, and then keep moving forward.