Here are 11 thoughts that it’s worth having before and after a triathlon that will help you race better and get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of it.
I’ve written about athletes who train great but fail to produce time and time again in a race. There are many reasons why this might happen – lack of confidence, not following a plan, feeling as if they don’t deserve to do well, etc. So how can we increase the chances of performing well on race day? On race day, it’s all in the head.
First, at Team MPI, we spend a lot of time with athletes from the beginning on “thinking like an athlete”. We focus on training consistently, frequently and on how to know our bodies. We want athletes to enjoy training, so we help them understand the ebbs and flows of training – some days we feel fantastic and others we don’t. We have athletes look long-term with their goals and ambitions. Unlike many single sport races in which athletes train one sport and focus everything on that race, in triathlon with three sports we set our goals well past the first main race.
So we’ve set athletes’ heads up right in training, what do we do for racing? Below is a list of 11 thoughts – certainly not all inclusive – that we want our athletes to have before race day:
Believe that you deserve to do well.
Sound silly? Actually, this is more common than you’d think. Many athletes don’t believe they deserve to do well and self-sabotage themselves prior to the race in a number of ways: doing something silly and hurting themselves, trying new equipment or procedures that they’ve never tested, knowingly eating or drinking the wrong things prior to race, etc. So we work on getting you to BELIEVE you deserve it.
You’re the only one who really cares about your time
No kidding. While close friends, family and competitors may act like they care – none of them ever care as much as you. So performing for someone other than yourself is silly. Even your coach tends to look much farther than you beyond the race.
Don’t confuse a realistic goal with a breakout goal.
Ah, this is a big one. We have athletes set goals periodically throughout the season. All of them are “realistic” goals as in, what can they do right at that moment – not what they would love to do. So set your realistic goal, and then set your breakout goal – that “perfect” race where everything works out great and you perform beyond capability. BUT, don’t confuse the two!
Be very thankful of possessing the ability and health to race.
All it takes is an injury to remind you how lucky you are to be able to race. Don’t take it for granted.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and to fail.
Look, just “racing” is taking a risk. You don’t know exactly how you’ll do. But in order to have that great race, or even better, that breakout race, you have to put yourself out there, take some risks and don’t be afraid to fail! This is all about ego here.
No one race defines who you are as an athlete.
Got it? So if you have a bad race, learn from it, get over it and move on. See #2.
You do this because of the joy it brings you.
If it’s not fun, you need to re-evaluate why you’re doing triathlon. Is it your fear of failure? Your ego? Talk with your coach and remember, you’re not a professional.
Your Attitude Matters
I’ve seen it all. Athletes hyped up so much before a race that they’re mean to friends and family and practically have a nervous breakdown before they get to the water. Miserable athletes who are so mean to volunteers, I want to slap them myself. And athletes who seemingly can never be satisfied by their performance after a race making being around them completely miserable for everyone. Folks, GET OVER YOURSELVES. If you have these attitudes, you will NEVER perform to your potential.
Racing, like swim bike and run, is a learned skill, so it may take time to master it.
It really does take time to become a skilled racer. So know this, work at it, and think about these 11 tips.
There is no such thing as a perfect race.
There isn’t! So when a good race comes your way, enjoy it! Don’t be unhappy after the race by picking it apart finding every little thing that could have been better. Enjoy the moment.
Have a plan, execute the plan and know that it’s not easy – that’s what makes it special.
Sounds simple, but you need to commit to it or else you may find yourself doing crazing things. Guess what, racing hurts. It’s hard. So understand that you’ll be going into the “Pain Cave” at points. Believe me, when you cross that finish line, the pain will go away immediately. See #1.
Find out more about Mark and Team MPI’s triathlon coaching