You Are Ready. You Can Do This: Mental Preparation for Race Day
Now that August is upon us, many of you are quickly approaching your highest priority race of the season. You have put in the work and now it’s time to execute when it matters. There are a number of ways you can increase your chances of a strong performance on race day, but I’m going to focus here on one key topic, mental preparation. Within mental preparation, I’m going to discuss 3 key aspects: be prepared for anything, have a race plan, and stress management.
Be prepared for anything
Whether you are competing in a triathlon, marathon or another endurance event, not everything will always go as planned. What if the swim is shortened or cancelled? What if the race is delayed due to weather? What if it is extremely hot or cold? What if you get a flat tire? These situations are mostly out of your control, but they could still happen. And if something does, the question becomes, how will you respond? Here are a couple quick tips:
- Focus on what you can control, which is your attitude, pacing, nutrition and effort
- Don’t sweat what you can’t control, like the weather or what has already happened so far
- Be ready for anything and expect the unexpected
Have a race plan
You will make numerous small decisions throughout a race, and the longer the race is, the more decisions you will need to make. In order to maximize your performance, it is important to know how you will approach those decisions versus doing it on the fly. Where will you start the swim? How will you monitor your pacing? How much will you eat and drink? There are numerous ways you can ensure you have a sound strategy for race day. Here are a few:
- Know what you will eat and drink in the lead up to and during the race
- Know where and how fast you will start
- Know what effort you can sustain, but be willing to adjust if you are struggling
Race day and even the week leading up to a big race is an exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. Everyone gets butterflies, so don’t worry, you are not alone! Try to relax and remember the reasons why you are doing this. Things like having fun, living a healthy lifestyle and accomplishing a goal. If you have already followed the steps I’ve discussed of being prepared for anything and putting together a race plan, you can take a deep breath and let the worry fall by the wayside. Here are a few additional tips for managing stress:
- Trust your preparation, the hard work is already done
- Focus on the positives and the reasons you are doing this
- Expect the unexpected and focus on what you can control
If you take the time to make sure you are mentally prepared for race day, you will be more ready than ever to have an amazing performance!
Coach Jim Levesque – USA Triathlon Certified Coach and Head Coach of Grit Endurance. You can reach him at Jim@livegrit.com.