It’s normal to feel nervous or stressed before a big race especially if it’s something you’ve been focus on for several months. A few nerves are healthy as it can help you to perform to your best. But getting overly anxious and stressed can waste energy unnecessarily and can cause stomach problems and a poor performance.
I realised that I’ve been in denial about some of my pre-race anxiety! I’d feel happy and calm all week, ignoring the fact that I had a race until the day before….and then all hell would break loose with all the kit and tasks that I haven’t managed to do and now need to organise. And usually lots of things go wrong. Last time my Garmin completely froze 4pm the night before a race.
For me it’s still a work in progress but here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way which might help.
Practice with more regular races: I realised this season that I needed to race a bit more often to help deal with the process and learn some routines to help. This season I’ve planned lots of smaller races such as short and long time trials, a duathlon and a range of long and short triathlons.
Planning: Put some tasks in your diary a week or two ahead of your race so that you start planning over a long period of time. E.g. booking your bike in for a service 3 weeks before your race, checking you have enough of your favourite nutrition products more than 7 days out (although Amazon Prime is a life saver and sorted me out on Friday night). This reduces a lot of last minute rushing about and faffing.
Extend your time line and start packing and organising kit much earlier. For me instead of leaving most of it to the Friday or Saturday before a Sunday race I started organising 7 days before and did a little bit each day.
Make a list: Print it out and tick it off! I took the time to do this for my latest event and it really helped.
Kit test: Test all of your planned kit well in advance of your race (put it in your diary).
Pre-race shake down: 2 or 3 days out from your race do a pre-race shake down training session in full race kit. I have done this before a few recent events which highlighted a loose screw in my bottle cage and a faulty set up on my hydration system.
Goal Setting: make sure you have realistic goals that don’t put you under too much pressure.
Stay Focused on your own goals, your own plan and your own race. Don’t be intimidated by all the other superhuman triathletes at the race expo.