Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday - Pre-Race Anxiety

Happy Tuesday!  I can never quite get used to how fast this day creeps up.  If you're looking for previous TriTalk topics, check out the new snazzy page at the top of my blog.  It has links to all our previous topics.  Each post retains all the linked posts as well, so think of it as a blogger's library for all the topics we've covered.

I had an amazing weekend at the Greendale Sprint Triathlon, my first triathlon of the season, this past weekend and the buzz still hasn't (quite) worn off.  I do promise a race report soon.  In the meantime, we'll back up to the week prior to talk about this week's link-up topic with You Signed Up for What? and The Trigirl Chronicles:

Pre-Race Anxiety / Jitters

I have to do WHAT??????

Finally, a subject I'm an expert on!  Not pre-race specifically, since I've only been racing for a couple of years.  But anxiety in general - yeah I have that covered.  I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in my adolescence.  My mom tells me I had my first panic attack when I was 18 months old.  So I've been dealing that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach and the fist around your chest for years.  Old friends... me and anxiety....

This weekend's race was also the first race for a few of my friends (I'm slowly converting all of my runner girlfriends into triathletes <<evil cackle>>), so in addition to my own pre-race queasiness, I fielded a lot of questions from my (understandable) nervous buddies.  My IPhone was chirping near constantly the day before the race.  I'll share with you all the same suggestions I told them, and tell myself when I start to come undone in the days before a race.
  • Trust your training.  Listen - you've worked really hard for this.  All those hours on the road, in the pool, and on the trainer?  The race is your victory.  The hay is in the barn.  Didn't train as much as you wanted?  No one ever does.  It's ok.  Whatever is going to happen race day is going to happen - it's already out of your control.  Trust your body and all the hard work you've put into it.  

  • Rest.  See the above - this is not like cramming for your finals in college.  It takes a week to ten days for any training you do to "sink in" and benefit your body.  So don't think you can squeeze in a few last big workouts to get ready.  It will do you no good.  This is doubly difficult, because for many of us, exercise is how we deal with stress.  This morning I wrote an email to my coach telling him I was horribly overwhelmed and couldn't possibly train for my Oly in 4 weeks.  Then I immediate went out on a run to calm down.  It makes no sense.  I get it.  Resist the urge.

  • Divert yourself.  Remember all those hobbies you had before triathlon swallowed your life?  And those friends who you don't see anymore because they don't like to run around in spandex before drinking their wine?  Now is the perfect time to reconnect with them and gain a little perspective.  Go for a hike, knit something, go dancing.  Have a girls night and let you non-triathlete friends remind you that you are actually pretty darn awesome (just don't talk about your race the entire time or they won't invite you out again).  There is an entire world out there that isn't triathlon.  Go find it.

  • Lower your biological stress level.  Yoga.  Meditation.  Walks in nature.  Listening to relaxing music.  Aromatherapy.  Massage.  Engage in activities that lower your heart-rate and your brain speed.  (Note: drinking lots of wine does not fall into this category.  Again, resist the urge.  Dehydrating yourself isn't a good taper strategy.  But if you must have a glass here or there, enjoy!)

  • Focus on the positive.  Your mind is a powerful tool.  Is is far too easy to allow your mind to focus on all the negatives.  The bad things that could happen.  The workouts you missed.  What you think your faults are.  The more time you think about these, the more you will convince yourself you're going to have a bad race.  And then guess what?  You will.  (This also applies to after your race. Focus on what went well instead of picking at what didn't.  Speaking from recent experience).  I like to practice visualizing myself having a really great race.  It doesn't always work, but reminding myself of my good workouts, my strengths, and visualizing myself crossing the finish line smiling is part of my race prep.

Wishing everyone calm taper weeks and race mornings!

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.  Next week's topic will be Training/Life Balance.


Courtney Fields said...

Excellent tips. Trusting your training is definitely the biggie!

Amanda said...

These are really great tips. As someone who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks I can relate. I love the last one about focusing on the positive. Thanks for sharing!

Miranda Greenhalgh said...

I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one with anxiety! Thanks for sharing :)

Gabi @ LeanGreenIslandGirl said...

Ah yes rest, trusting your training and focusing on the positive! By the way, that cat picture creeps me out! :-)

Gabi said...

Rest, trusting your training and staying positive for sure! By the way that cat picture freaked me out!

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