As a coach, I have to be prepared for any and all race day conditions and scenarios to help my athletes overcome race day curve balls. A cancelled swim, a modified bike course, a cancelled, then rescheduled race, non stop rain, freezing cold and windy, extremely hot, two flat tires, GI issues, cramps.....yep, we have dealt with it all by our Trimarni athletes.
And those who embraced the conditions, excelled. We had strong minded athletes achieve the unthinkable, personal best times, a Kona qualifier and a first time IM finisher.
It sure is a bummer when a race distance is modified, especially when it is your first time racing the distance, you dedicated yourself 100% to training for the full distance (for many many months) or you traveled very far to compete in the event.
When there is a course or distance change, it's easy to think that suddenly, it was all for nothing and perhaps, there is a better option at a future date.
Never assume that a future race will provide you with a better outcome.
As a coach, I want athletes to finish what they started. Sure, there may be some rare situations where a cancelled race or a transferred entry may be a blessing in disguise but anytime you take a risk to move from the present to focusing on the future, your assumptions may not be any more in your favor than the current situations that you are dealing with.
If your race is altered, the weather doesn't make for an "easy" race or part of the race is cancelled, you can still earn your finisher medal. Your race still counts if there is a start line and finish line. The key is that you have to stay mentally committed. When you signed up for your race, you also signed up for the many obstacles and challenges that could come your race before or on race day.
If you are healthy, fit and tapered and you put in the work, get yourself excited to execute.
Regardless of the modifications made for race day, you have to consider that if you pass on your current race and focus on the next-best-thing option, you could 1) get sick 2) get injured 3) have to go through a major life event 4) not peak again 5) lose motivation to train 6) experience a similar situation at your next race.
Racing is always out of your control so it's in your best interest to stay focused and committed to the now.
By keeping the right mindset, you WILL excel on race day.
Don't be one of the many athletes who have excuses for what could have been or should have been on race day.
Racing is racing - it is unpredictable.
If you are in a curveball situation before race day, remind yourself that you still have to nail your nutrition, stay mentally strong all day, be proactive, dig deep and overcome low moments.
If your mind isn't in the right spot, you may likely underperform on your modified course simply because you were unsuccessful with dealing with the new race day situations (that everyone else has to deal with).
I encourage you to be one of the smart athletes who sees the capabilities on race day.
Plus, when you reach the finish line, you will have an extra reason to celebrate your accomplishment.
You didn't give up on yourself when the odds were against you.
For additional reading, Dr. G (clinical sport psychologist) and I put together an article on how to overcome race day curve ball situations. We hope you find our advice practical and useful so that you don't undesirable scenarios detour you from achieving something great on race day.