Essential Sports Nutrition

3/12/18

Early season racing mindset


In just a few weeks, we will be heading down south to Haines City for our first triathlon of 2018.

It's been seven looooong months since we raced in a triathlon and I can't help but think about that early season racing mindset. I forgot what it feels like to push through the low moments, to make the mind work with the body, to be very uncomfortable, to embrace the unknown and to put a lot of mental energy into everything that is needed to have a great swimbikerun in a competitive setting.

Racing is a skill. It requires practice and time to perfect.

The best part of an early season race is to get back into the racing environment, dust off the rust and to test yourself.......without pressure to be at your best. Because racing is something that you get better at the more you do it, early season races provide a great opportunity to figure out what works best for you without any pressure on the outcome/final results.

As an athlete, it's easy to feel pressure to perform at every race or to achieve a goal time/place, but it's much better to make mistakes, welcome the unknown and to learn about yourself in a race setting in an early season race so that come later on in the season, when you have more accumulated experience and fitness, you can really showcase your abilities.

An early season race is great for the following: 
  • Gain experience/feedback/data for yourself and for your coach. 
  • Try something that you may not be comfortable with in a more important race. 
  • Practice your pre-race rituals and warm-up strategies.
  • Work on your mental skills, especially as it relates to pre-race anxiety, nerves and stress. 
  • Practice your race week and race day nutrition and hydration (if it doesn't go well, reach out to a Board Certified Sport RD for help). 
  • Try out clothing and gear to see what works (or doesn't work) for you. 
  • Remind yourself what it takes to suffer/dig deep/overcome low moments. 
  • Remind yourself how much you love racing (and the training that is needed to feel prepared come race day). 
  • Play with different efforts and racing/pacing strategies. 
  • Celebrate being outside, especially if you have been training indoors all winter.  
  • Gain motivation for future workouts/races.
  • Learn lots about yourself in a race setting. 
Because nothing will simulate a race environment like being in the race environment, remove the stress to be at your best at your early season race. Rather than going into an early season race with high or low expectations, remove immense pressures to be fast and instead, arrive to your race with the freedom to race without expectations.

The first race of the season is generally a test of your current fitness without any should have, would have, could have thoughts. Let the race give you feedback about your current strengths and limiters as it's absolutely not a predictor how the rest of the season will go or a test of your athletic worthiness.