Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pre-Race Jitters and Doubt

Before nearly every competition that I have had in my life, whether it be a soccer match, race, beer pong game, etc., I always seem to go through an internal battle of pre-game/race jitters.  I know that I am not the only person that experiences this period of self-reflection and even self-doubt at times.

Have I trained enough?
How happy I want to look Sunday!

Is this person/team simply better than me?

Am I ready for this?

As a coach, I always tell my players that they need to take time to meditate, pray, whatever before each match.  You need to focus on the things that you can control and not worry about the things that you cannot. However, often, this is much easier said then done.  It takes a very strong person to be able to do this

What can you control?

1. You can control your attitude about the event.  Focus on the things that you have done in training and believe that you are ready for this.

2. You can control your effort.  Only you know how far that you can push yourself in a given event, and only you can choose to stop.  I constantly remind myself in training when I start to get tired and want to stop short of a 60 mile bike or a 15 mile run that I GET TO DO THIS!!!  No one is there forcing me and no one will care/know if I stop.  That motivation is normally enough to push me through the tough days.

3. Everything leading up to the event.  Nutrition, tapering, etc.

Despite all of this, I always still seem to experience self-doubt.  This mostly happens with the swim for me.  I did an open water swim on Monday and found myself still someone panicking at times at the thought of swimming 1.2 straight.  I could not for the life of me figure out why.  In Master's, we have gotten up to 4400 yards on the endurance days, and yet the prospect of swimming half of that scares me and causes panic.

This causes me panic...
I think this is due to the fact that I want to do well in this race.  I have only been swimming for about 9 months, but I am impatient and expect things to come too quickly at times.  I want to beat my time from San Juan to prove to myself that this is something that I could be great at.  I need to follow my own advice and focus on the things that I can control and not worry about what others are doing in the race.  I need to swim, bike and run at the paces that I know I can do and the rest will come.

People always tend to ask the question: What is your goal time for this race?

Whether it is a 5K, Half-Marathon, Marathon, or Ironman, I always have 2 goal times in mind.  The first of these goal times is what I think I can do if everything during the race goes exactly to plan. The Ambitious Goal.

The second goal is what I like to refer to as the contingency plan.  What my time will be if things do not go to plan and something unexpected happens.  I love the way that Jesse Thomas(Pro Triathlete) references this: The "Get Screwed Fund" Goal.

There are things that are not always under your control in a race: flat tires, course mishaps, GI issues, etc. This is when you focus on what you can control and grow from the experience.

I read an article from Runner's World that I am going to try to utilize to calm myself this Sunday in Racine.

Three ways to Calm Race Day Nerves:

  • Have faith in your preparation. One major cause of race-day stress is the unknown. How fast will you run? Will you finish? Will you be the last person across the line? Will you qualify or break that personal record? What will your finish-line photo look like? The key to calmer waters is to race with what the day gives you and surrender to running your best on the day. 
  • Be prepared. Create a pre-race ritual—a go-to schedule of events you turn to before every race to provide structure, focus, and familiarity. 
  • Meditate. The more in tune you are with your body on race day, the better you can run from within and in the right zone based on the day's challenges.

I hope that this will be enough.  I am going to try and do another swim today and hope that it goes better.  

All the best to anyone who is in race prep this week!

No comments:

Post a Comment