First off, give yourself a break on the training. You know you have put the time in, just have confidence in your training and know you deserve to be here on race day. All those days you wanted to quit or had no desire to get out and pound the pavement but did anyway are now going to pay off. Besides, you have another going for you in that regard – Adrenalin. Recognize it, understand it and use it. It will get you through the race.
Next, the crowd. In most sports it is understood that you really try to block the crowd out to focus on the task at hand. However, I believe the opposite is true for endurance sports. Most of the crowds at these events are in absolute amazement as they watch everyday individuals lay it all out just to cross a finish line. The crowd is absolutely on your side and you can feel the energy. Learn to use that energy. The crowd will actually become one of your biggest assets as the race goes on. There is no better motivation than having complete strangers cheering you across the finish line. I have also found that triathlons are unique in that even the most experienced athletes love to see beginners trying the sport. They are always willing to help in any way they can.
Sizing up the rest of the race participants. Yes, there are some people there that appear to be in better shape than you, there always will be. It does not mean you are not prepared for your race. And that is just it – it is your race. You started this journey with a goal to finish your first Triathlon and that is where your focus needs to be. This battle is within yourself and you are fully prepared to win. Simple as that, you are here to finish. The other racers are swimming, biking and running with you right now, not against you. Let’s get a few finishes under the belt before we start tweaking weaknesses and letting the competitive spirit run free. First things first – Finish.
Physically, there is also a very important reason to learn to relax; it burns up precious energy. The purpose of minimizing these other concerns is to help keep your mind in check as the race starts. Letting yourself be concerned about these and any other issues is a waste of time and energy. And in case you have not been told yet, energy is important in endurance sports. It can’t be wasted by losing mental control. When the mind starts racing, the heart rate goes up, when the heart rate goes up – well you know all that by now. Just learn to keep your mind under control on race day.
Of all the concerns I mentioned in the beginning, I might agree on one. Completing a Triathlon is a crazy idea. It was a crazy idea when you heard about triathlons and it was certainly crazy when you even considered one might be possible. It is a crazy world. But, what you will learn about yourself or have learned as you cross that finish line can change your life forever. I won’t waste time even trying to describe the feeling as you reflect on all the hard work and sacrifices it took to get across that line. It means something completely different to each individual. Just trust me when I say – You will never be the same.