How to Cope with Pre-Race Jitters

author : Daniel Clout
comments : 1

I'm leaving tomorrow for a month of racing in Europe - Triathlon Worlds in Madeira Island and the Duathlon Worlds in Belgium and since I still get the jitters, I felt that this would be a great article for BT'ers.

Doing a triathlon for your first time or even your 100th time can be a nerve racking experience.  I’m assuming your pre-race jitters are most likely contributed to the fear of doing something unfamiliar. For me it's mainly associated with the high expectations I put on myself to win. However we all share similar ties as there’s no difference really between elite triathletes and newbies because we are all human with dreading failure and embarrassment.

I want to let you in on some of my secrets to cope with this stress. I’m keen also to help encourage you as beginners to enjoy the experience so you’ll stick with your new exciting exploration. Be sure to give yourself a second chance if things went wrong on your first go. I still am making mistakes after 3 solid years of doing them yet that’s the challenging and rewarding concept of doing triathlons.

The number one thing is it’s got to be fun. Everything is attitude!!!  The way you think, perceive and lead your thoughts is crucial. To me triathlon is as much mental as it is physical. You may think triathlon is physically demanding yet the brain is the powerful mechanism that keeps you going. You will get out what you put in! Mental toughness may be a trait inherited in different degrees from one person to another but I truly think it’s up to yourself how determined and physiologically strong you decide on becoming.

Are you apprehensive going into your first tri season? Then I recommend setting your mind right now to do it purely for fun, simply aim to finish and to do your best as nothing else should matter. Overpower any apprehensive thoughts you are having at the moment with strong positive thoughts and images. Likewise when racing, when negative thoughts try to tell you to slow down or quit - DON'T ACCEPT THEM!!! Remind yourself why you are doing this and tell yourself you are having fun no matter what. This will create a positive reaction in your body as endorphins, adrenalin and other useful hormones will make you feel awesome. This will take away most of the anxiety beforehand and during the race lessen the screaming muscular pains; consequently enhance the experience and race better. With accepting only one negative thought you could turn your race to custard as the opposite reaction happens with toxins taking over the body and slowing you down. Without a doubt, I believe there is a very strong correlation between how you think and how the body reacts to those thought patterns. So remember positive, positive, and positive!!!

I have found whenever I psych myself up I race poorly - this is compared to going to a race with a 'I don’t care how I do' attitude. The races that I fool/joke around, stay relaxed and going into with no expectations are the ones I have surprised myself by kicking ass when feeling even terribly out of shape. I basically play reverse psychology on myself now because of what I have learned about myself. Basically the more I want to win the less I have to think about winning. I know I am extremely competitive - once the race starts I will automatically do my best, so why waste energy working myself up before? Yet pre-race visualization is extremely important but I will save that for another article. Everyone has different coping skills so find out specifically what keeps yourself in the right frame of mind so you don’t get too nervous.

If you are just starting off you have nothing to lose I reckon. Enjoy the magnificent experience by staying relaxed, happy and thinking and accepting only positive thoughts. This way you’re bound to get hooked on this cool sport and enjoy the journey.

I wish you the best in your new endeavor!


Daniel Clout (Kiwi fella who speaks his mind!)

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date: September 4, 2004

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Daniel Clout

Years in Triathlon: First triathlon at age 12
Heart Rate Resting: 32
Max: 202
Coach: Michael Jacques
Weight:152

Go PROFESSIONAL within a few years.
OLYMPICS 2008 is a VERY realistic goal - so I will keep extremely focused on achieving this.

Author

avatarDaniel Clout

Years in Triathlon: First triathlon at age 12
Heart Rate Resting: 32
Max: 202
Coach: Michael Jacques
Weight:152

Go PROFESSIONAL within a few years.
OLYMPICS 2008 is a VERY realistic goal - so I will keep extremely focused on achieving this.

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