10/7/14

Tips for racing under pressure


Do race day jitters affect your mind on race week?
Do you feel an ache in your tummy that you just can't seem to shake until you start the race?

I remember my first IM ('06 IMFL) and I was so excited to race! I wouldn't say I was super nervous but I did have a few pre-race worries.
It was a bit chilly out and the wind was howling. As if the Ironman distance wasn't tough enough!
Could my 24 year old body survive 140.6 miles for the very first time....is my heart strong enough to beat for 11+ hours?

My racing strategy and fitness has certainly changed since I won my age group at my very first Ironman but with every race, there is always something on my mind that drains a little bit of my race day energy. 

Just to make sure that you do not feel alone, no matter the race, I always have some type of pre-race nerves on race day morning. No race is easy and never do I arrive to a race with 100% confidence that this race will be my best race ever. Oddly enough, the races when I feel the most under-prepared, I seem to perform the best.

But with every endurance race, I strive to be stronger than the last race. Although the nerves are still there, this excites me to see what I can make my body do on race day. No longer do I chase times or worry about things out of my control but instead, I focus on executing the best possible with my current fitness. The pressure I put on myself to have a great race comes from within. Discovering what I am capable of, of course, thanks to my competition who pushes me to higher limits.

For the past two years, I have enjoyed having Karel with me through the entire process of training and racing in endurance races. But let it be known that two endurance athletes, living together and training together and racing together can make for some interesting moments in the 24 hours before a race.

Good thing we have a year to continue to work on pre-race jitters before we both race in the 2015 IM World Championship.

Although I am always upfront with our race goals on social media, I never feel pressure to impress others. I race for myself, to be better (defined differently with every race) than my last race. There are things within my control on race day and there are many things out of my control. Therefore, the roller coaster of nerves, excitement and anxiety that I feel on race day is simply because I want my body and mind to perform the best possible on race day.

Therefore, it is up to me to make sure that I focus on ways to control my emotions and thoughts before a race because if I don't, I may set myself up for a performance that is less than what I am truly capable of. 

Because we all can use a few tips every now and then on reducing pre-race nerves, I dedicate my recent Ironman article to me and all the athletes out there who need a bit of help learning how to race under pressure.