On race day, every athlete will have a reason for enduring the pain and the physical challenge that comes with racing. I encourage you to love competition for competitive feelings help you feel energized, confident and ready to take on a challenge.
Far too often, athletes get in their own way before and on race day. Nerves, anxiety, fear, self-doubt can shift a race ready body into a frozen body that is unable to perform.
The thoughts in your mind may play ping-pong between positive and negative but this nervous energy is totally normal and needed. Gloria (Dr. G, my mental coach) believes that nerves are a good thing as it means you are ready and that you care.
The beautiful thing about competition is that the stress that is felt before a race is a sign that you are willing and able to face a big challenge. This nervous excitement can be a great thing as it is a sign that you are ready and willing to stretch your physical limits and possibly, do something that you have never done before.
Embracing the competition means that you will let other athletes have the race that they trained for without feeling bitter, jealous or upset. Never should you compare yourself to someone else and decide that you are too slow, too heavy or that you will never be that good and you don't belong out on the course. Every athlete at a race can be competitive. No matter how long it takes you to get to the finish line, not only do you deserve to be there but you worked hard to be there.
It's good to put a little pressure on yourself with a no expectations attitude. Never lose trust in your abilities. Be confident and enjoy the race experience.
In a recent article by Dr. G, she discussed some simple tricks to stay mentally tough, no matter what obstacles get in your way.
For anyone who is racing in the near future, here are my two favorite paragraphs from the article (I recommend reading the entire article):
"Only you know what got you to the race and will get you to the finish line. Everyone has character strengths and experiences that they can capitalize on in challenging situations. First, have awareness of what your strengths are and secondly, use them. Embrace your competitiveness, your humor, your grit. Remember, it was your time, money, training, and planning that got you to the race, so own it. Enjoy the process and focus on doing you on race day!
Successful athletes know their goal so well that they can close their eyes and create a mental picture of it in their mind. The more vivid and clear your goal is, the more your brain and body know where to aim. Motivation increases when you know where you're are aiming your efforts. This means creating a picture in your mind, putting visual cues of your goal in your environment, or writing it out specifically and clearly in your training log. Then leading up to the race, you can recall your goal to help focus and direct all that energy so you're more excited and less freaked out."