The only day that matters is race day
As Karel sharpens up his body to race 140.6 miles on Sunday, I have been training my body to adapt to intentional training stressors. Karel has done the work for his race day and I am (still) putting in the work for my upcoming races. We each wake up with a workout on our training plan but with different mindset as to how the day will go and what we need to accomplish. Whereas I have great flexibility in my training and I don't have to read too much into my body signals, Karel, on the other hand, has to be very in-tune with his body signals so that he can perform his best on race day.
The Ironman athletes who will be racing on Sunday can now think back to all the training sessions that helped to physically and mentally prepare the body and mind for race day. The preparation is done and now the only day that really matters, is finally here. All the hard work is in the past and the only day that matters is the present moment.
I think most athletes can agree that training is fun. Although the early alarms and busy schedules can make training exhausting, preparing for a race is not as nerve-wracking as race day. Nobody is watching you, it's easy to give-in when it hurts and it's fun to push boundaries when there's no finish line to chase and you can always modify the workout/course when you want to change things up.
But not on race day.
Race day is the day that really matters.
Race day requires you to believe in your abilities. To trust your training/preparation and to know that you can handle anything that comes your way.
Self-awareness and being in the moment will allow you to avoid and to overcome obstacles that will occur on race day.
Just like in training, race day requires a high level of motivation. You must never stop caring about your performance, from start to finish. Keep your focus on yourself and don't be disrupted by distractions, like the race pace of another athlete. There's no need to compare yourself to anyone else or say "I'm too slow" or "I'm having such a bad race." Hopefully you learned in training that you can never ever judge an outcome from a current moment situation.
Understand that your race will likely not go as planned so be prepared for the unexpected and the unfamiliar.
Race day is going to hurt and you probably won't feel great throughout the entire race. There will be high moments and there will be lots of low moments. Understand that you don't have to feel great all day to have a great race performance. Thoughts are not actions.
Stick to what worked in training and don't overthink race day pacing or nutrition. Your training prepared you for race day so please don't try anything new on race day. Go into the race with confidence by doing what worked in training.
Bring a positive attitude to your race and keep it high all day long. Your mind will wander, it will bring in negative thoughts like "you can't do this, walking would be so much easier than running, this hurts too much to continue" but you must catch and quiet these thoughts before they become so strong that you can't ignore them. Let your mind work with your body.
The work is done and it's now time to race!
Don't give up until you reach that finish line!