Nerves can even be a good thing. Those butterflies in your stomach are caused by adrenaline hormone coursing through your body as a response to a threatening situation- your race- and it can give you an awesome push if you harness it correctly. Here are my top three tips for dealing with race-day nerves.
Preparation is the number one tool to allaying race day nerves. If you have properly prepared for everything, there is no need to be nervous! So take the time to execute your training, do your disaster drills, and pack for all contingencies. Learn how to change a flat tire, let your family know where to meet you after a race, double check that all of your equipment is in proper working condition. The less you leave to chance, the better.
Part of proper preparation is in visualizing your perfect race, but also in visualizing what could go wrong- and how you would handle that situation. I like to visualize racing every time I run. Take the time to really think through every step, from waking in the morning and eating your breakfast, to arriving on race day and setting up your transition, to the race start and how you’ll feel, all the way through the race itself. At each discipline, consider what you’ll do if something doesn’t go according to plan. What will you do if a foot kicks your goggles off your face? What if you get a flat tire? Or if you get a side stitch on the run? Think through each solution and visualize making it happen. You can practice those situations in your training, but how you handle them mentally makes all the difference on race day. Don’t let race day be the first time you think those thoughts.
Breathe and Laugh
That whole ten-deep breaths thing actually works! On race morning, find space to zen out. I like to put on my headphones as I stand looking at the water and take a few deep breaths while I visualize the start of the race. Then I enjoy chatting and cracking jokes with family or fellow competitors. It helps take the edge off and release some of those nerves so that you can focus on kicking ass.
Have a question about racing your first triathlon? Drop me a note!