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Stop Freaking out About Things You Can't Control on Race Day!

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As some of the big fall races are approaching in the Southeast, we're hearing more comments like:

  • 'Oh man, why am I in such a late race wave?'
  • 'What if it's as hot as it was last year?'
  • 'What if it rains?'
  • 'What if the swim isn't wetsuit legal?'
  • 'What if they cancel the swim?'
  • 'What if I have mechanical issues?'

It goes on and on. People spend endless amounts of time and energy worrying about things that they absolutely cannot control on race day. All of this anxiety can lead to negative self-talk and a mindset that causes the individual to underperform on race day.

The reality is that no race, especially a long-course race, will go perfectly. There are things you can control through training, things you can prepare for in training, and things that you just have to deal with on race day. It's much better to have a plan than to spend endless hours worrying about the possibility of something going wrong.

Things you can't control:

  • Your swim wave start time
  • Race day weather
  • Water temperatures
  • Unexplained equipment malfunctions
  • Bears (or dogs, trains, deer, etc - it's a real thing)

These things are 100% out of your control on race day. No amount of anxiety, worry, or gripping about them to friends, family, and everyone in your facebook group will change them. In fact, the more you dwell on them, the bigger the issue will become in your mind. It's better to focus on what you can control within any of those variables.

Things you can control:

Your Training.

Train in conditions that you might encounter on race day!

We meet a lot of people who hide from the sun and then worry about the heat on race day. No, you should not execute every training session in the heat of the day, but if you never train in the heat and then you start your race-day run in the heat of the day, you've set yourself up for failure. You need to know how your body acclimates to heat, cold and everything in-between.

If you're traveling to a location that's hot and you live in a cooler climate, you can add some hacks like spending time in a sauna or going to hot-yoga classes in the weeks leading up to race day. 

Similarly, if you never train in the rain and then find your race day, rainy, you're going to feel really anxious.

If you train in a wide-variety of weather conditions, then you'll feel confident in any condition on race day.

Your Preparedness for the Swim!

Be prepared to swim the distance confidently with our without a wetsuit!

70.3 Augusta is known as the 'first-timers' race because of the fast flowing river that is always wetsuit legal....until last year when it wasn't wetsuit legal. The race-morning decision led to panic at the starting line. If you can't swim the distance confidently without your wetsuit, then you aren't ready to race. Make sure you practice long swims with and without the wetsuit. Come into the race confident that you can execute the swim without it.

Your Equipment.

Prepare your equipment for race day!

We often hear stories of individuals who spend 4-8 months training for an event, but don't bother to try on their wetsuit or have their bike tuned before their race. You should run through all of your equipment and take your bike in for any service 2-3 weeks BEFORE your race. If you wait until race morning or even race week, it's often too late. Sizes you need will be sold out, a tune up might cause the chain to make a weird noise that needs to be adjusted, or suddenly you'll realize that you've lost weight in training and your kit no longer fits. Freak things will always happen on race day. Zippers break, tires go flat, and a variety of other things can happen but you'll go into the day knowing that you've done everything in your power to make sure your equipment is in top shape.

Worried about mechanical issues? Practice changing your tire, over and over again, until you feel confident. Know how to fix a dropped chain. If something major does happen, don't give up. Team Podium member, Katie Kilpatrick had her crank arm fall off during her bike at Chattanooga 70.3 this past year. It would have been easy to get in the SAG vehicle and call it a day, but she waited (a long time) for mechanical support and finished the race.

Your attitude

Your attitude is the MOST important piece of this whole puzzle!

You've worked to control all of the things that are 'in your box', as Team Podium Member Daniel Harris describes them. Now you have to focus on what you can control and stay positive about everything else.

You can get negative about your late start wave or you can see it as an opportunity to make new friends and have some fun as you wait for the race to start.

You can get mad about the dog that ran out in front of you on the course or you can get excited about the awesome story you're going to have to share.

In the end, the only two things in your control on race day are your effort and your attitude. Focus on the positive. Have confidence in your training. Look for ways to encourage others. Determine to cross the finish line with a big smile on your face no matter what race day throws your way! 

Live in the Atlanta area? Join us on September 16th at 5:30 in the store as Abby Keenan of Intrepid Performance Consulting joins us to talk about how to Manage Race Day Nerves. info here.

1 comment

  • Ed Kenney: August 31, 2017

    Great article. Would you consider doing a “Facebook Live” event of Abby Keenan lecture in Sept 16th. I’m in the RALEIGH area and won’t be able to make it to Atlanta.

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