As an endurance athlete, race week is always an exciting time. It's the culmination of weeks or even months or years of training, preparation, and sacrifice. But it's also a nerve-wracking experience that can leave you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and uncertain. So how do you deal with race week nerves and perform at your best? Here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate this challenging time.
I've been subject to many stressful situations over the years, whether it be making stupid mistakes In and out of the race, but more often than not, due to stress prior; like not un-velcroing my shoes in transition to do a flying mount and having to ride on top of them, not getting to the start line in time, or simply not having enough time to do the prep I needed to...
Here are some ways I make it easier for myself, and how you can too.
Stick to Your Routine
One of the best ways to ease race week nerves is to stick to your routine as much as possible. Your pre-race routine should be a tried-and-true formula that helps you feel comfortable and confident. Whether it's a particular meal, a specific warm-up routine, or a pre-race meditation, stick to what works for you. This will help you feel more in control and reduce any pre-race jitters.
Manage Your Expectations
It's natural to want to perform your best on race day, but managing your expectations is important. Don't put too much pressure on yourself or set unrealistic goals. Remember that there are factors beyond your control, such as the weather, the course, and your competitors. Focus on what you can control, such as your pacing, hydration, and nutrition, and trust in your training and preparation.
Visualisation is a powerful tool that can help calm your nerves and boost your confidence. I can't say i've practiced this enough... but it's definitely something i've started doing of late. Take some time to visualise yourself performing at your best on race day. Imagine yourself easily swimming, biking, and running, feeling strong and confident. Focus on the feeling of crossing the finish line and achieving your goals. This positive visualisation can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the race.
Positive self-talk is essential for dealing with race week nerves. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts or worries, focus on positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your training, your strengths, and your achievements. Use positive mantras such as "I am strong," "I am prepared," and "I can do this." This positive self-talk can help calm your nerves and keep you focused on your goals.
Embrace the Challenge
Race week nerves are a natural part of the endurance athlete experience. Rather than trying to avoid or suppress these feelings, embrace them as part of the challenge. Remember that nerves are a sign that you care deeply about the race and want to perform your best. Use this energy to fuel your preparation and stay motivated on race day.
Connect with Your Support System
Finally, don't forget to connect with your support system. Whether it's your coach, training partners, or family and friends, having a support system can help you stay grounded and motivated. Share your race week nerves with them, and let them encourage and support you. Remember that you are not alone in this experience and that there are people who believe in you and your abilities.
I do this all of the time. I have different people to lean on for different things. Know who to reach out to for what and this can be a massive asset. Your team is there for a reason, whether it be over the phone or there in person. They've supported you to get to this point, so use them to get you through this last home stretch.
Race week nerves are a natural part of the endurance athlete experience, but they don't have to derail your performance. By sticking to your routine, managing your expectations, visualising success, staying positive, embracing the challenge, and connecting with your support system, you can confidently navigate this challenging time and achieve your goals. Good luck, and enjoy the race!