The race season usually means elevated stress and anxiety for many triathletes. But there are ways to take that energy and channel it toward positive exercises that can help you on race day.
One way to allay pre-race fears and anxiety is to prepare ahead of time. If you train effectively, you'll know how to better control your nerves and focus on simply having your best race.
These 10 simple training habits will help give you peace of mind come race day.
1) Every workout should have a purpose. Take a couple of minutes before you start working out to reflect on the purpose of the workout and the results that you want to achieve. Every workout should lead you in the direction of your goals. See yourself performing the workout in your mind's eye to help set the intention and prepare mentally for the work ahead.
2) Include drills in your workouts throughout the year. Drills help to connect the mind and body, make you more efficient in your movements, and give you a chance to mindfully work on weaknesses in your training. If you are accustomed to working on drills, you can utilize them when things get tough during a hard workout or race. Just focus on your form or concentrate on something you practiced in training, and you can keep your mind off the difficulties at hand.
3) Practice diaphragmatic breathing. Yoga breathing or other relaxation breathing exercises can help you calm your mind and body. Practice these exercises for five to 10 minutes every week so that you can learn to control nervousness and anxiety.
4) Train in all types of weather. Training in adverse conditions such as heat, cold, wind and rain will help you to develop mental and physical toughness. Strong-willed triathletes are not deterred by unfavorable weather. Some even feel stronger and tougher after a run in the rain. It's also a great opportunity to train with back-up race equipment that you might not otherwise get the chance to test. Be sure to take necessary precautions and appropriate gear; then get out and see what you're made of.
5) Define success by your progress not just race results. Incorporate time trails into your training schedule to track progress and simulate race intensities. I prefer to schedule short time trails (e.g. 800m swim and either a 10K bike or a 5K run) during rest weeks so that I can simulate racing. The results from these tests will help you to evaluate your fitness throughout the year and provide you with information to design future workouts.