TriSpecific Coach Pete Lever penned this article below and it provides some great advice on how to be ready for the the canon goes BOOM.
There is a lot going on; the culmination of months of dedicated work comes down to the final few days of preparation before the show starts. You can walk into any IM, 70.3 race venue around the world and almost see the tension in the air. People are nervous. Stress levels are elevated, adrenaline flows – everyone is wired in. It can be hectic if you are not prepared.
Some people dread that seemingly endless minute before the gun goes off (personally, I actually relish that minute – it is an exhilarating feeling knowing what possibilities lay ahead for the day), you can see it etched in their faces; last minute thoughts – Can I do it? What if I haven’t done enough? I should have changed this that or the other. Or -my absolute pet hate – What if so-and-so beats me (they look so fit)? At this point all of those ramblings in your mind are simply unnecessary rubbish. And its highly like you that those little questions will plague you all day if you do not shift your focus.
You need to have a plan to beat it.
Turn up ready for the nerves. Everyone gets nervous and it’s part of the game. See the nerves as just energy waiting to be unleashed that can be put to good use. If you let the nerves overwhelm you, they can erode your confidence.
Be prepared for those negative little thoughts that will pop into your head. Have some come back thoughts prepared for example “I’m not good enough” Who says! I’ve made consistent daily deposits into my training bank account and I’ve had some great training sessions and even pushed through those tough one. I am ready and I’m definitely good enough. Having things like this prepared will help keep you stay focused.
A tried and tested method used by high successful athletes is visualisation. Kristian has mentioned this before in previous posts, and you can gain some invaluable information on it in Maxwell Maltz’s “The New Psycho-Cybernetics”. Michael Phelps used visualisation to help in his preparation for theBeijing Olympics – he dedicated time everyday to visualising his races. I’m pretty sure he had a good Olympics – and I am certain that a lot of his success is due to his diligence in mental-focus through visualisation (how else can you remain that focused, against the best athletes in the world – for 8 events?).
A quick guide to get you ready for race day:
Each day before the race, when you wake-up/ before you go to bed, spend a few dedicated minutes visualising what you intend to do on race day.
Map it out, bit-by-bit, building on the detail each time.
Start with the wake up – you know it’s going to be early. (Have a shower .. it helps wake you up properly).
Then move on to the breakfast – visualise what you will be eating. (If you’re having breakfast! Ensure it’s 3+ hours before race start and is only ~ 300 calories. The only reason you’re having breakfast is to satisfy your hunger pangs.. that’s it).
Then do the same for your body-prep – rolling out, mobilising, making sure you are moving freely.
Then shift your attention to Transition. Watch yourself setting up your area – the bags, the placement of your nutrition, the order in which everything will be layed out.
From there you want focus on your warm up. Yes a warm up … What are you going to do, how long and how does it feel?
The same goes for the swim. Imagine where you will seed yourself, which line you will take, where the markers are, the currents. See yourself swimming well, prepare yourself for that craziness of the start and tell yourself to relax and no get overwhelmed. This washing machine won’t last that long. Imagine yourself running out of the water and into T2 – you know that everything is exactly where you expect it to be because you planned it that way.
See yourself riding at the levels you practised for, the position and the feel of riding comfortably uncomfortable. Take yourself through T2, picking up your gear and getting through there smoothly.
Then see yourself settling into your run-pace (with a nice high turn-over and slowing yourself down if you’re running too fast… it won’t stay this easy) – this part requires the most concentration because it the time of the day that many athletes lose their focus, and neglect to follow their plan when they begin to fatigue. So…visualise what you do when that happens.
Now for the best bit. Visualise yourself entering the coveted finish-shoot. Maybe it’s your first time or maybe you know it well, but see yourself running down that carpet, looking up at the clock and seeing….
well, that one is up to you 😉
Caveat: We all have a race time goal in our heads. Something we have trained for physically and mentally. However, times will be condition dependant so have the time goal … but better goals are implementation goals. Focus on each part of the race and aim to implement it to the best of your ability. If you do this, you nail the race, no matter the time.
Spending time each day lay down strong connections in your subconscious as to how you will go about your day – so much so that you will feel like your on auto-pilot (a very focused auto-pilot). There is plenty of time in taper-week to start preparing the mind for race day. Spend the time on your mental focus – it could be the difference. Make your mind strong to maintain the focus.
Trust yourself and believe that you can do it.