The final days, hours, and minutes before an event are unlikely to improve your physical fitness. But they can make a big difference in your mental state, and thus in your access to—or barriers to—your physical capabilities during the event. Knowing your target start-line mental state, and developing a strategy—a routine—that you can depend on to get there is a crucial part of mental fitness.
Designing your pre-event routine starts with self-awareness, and the answers to three questions:
- What's your optimal mental state on the start line? Think back to an event where, at the start, you felt exactly the way you want to. Were you relaxed? Excited? Focused? Talking? Silent? Thinking? Spacing out? Feeling strong? Confident? Purposeful? Your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behaviors are the ingredients of your mental state, so take inventory of all four as you recall the memory. If you haven't yet had the start-line experience you're looking for, define a state that you think will be best for you. You can refine that goal later if you need to.
- What helps you get there? Think about the week leading up to the event. What did you do that contributed to that feeling on the line, or at least seemed to? What involved other people, and what was solo? Which of your actions were in the days leading up to the event, and which were on the day of the event? Which were in the last few hours? The last few minutes?
- What gets in the way? What happened during the week, hours, minutes leading up to the start that tweaked your mental state? How much was within your control? Think about what you could have done. Why didn't you?
Record your answers to all of these questions in your training log or wherever else you'll be able to find them later.