Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The week before an Ironman triathlon; sometimes the hardest part.

One week out from your Iron-distance triathlon. It has more than likely taken months of dedication, early morning's, long rides, compromises with family and friends and overcoming the little voice in your head that says 'stay in bed' to get to this point. Yet sometimes this last week feels ten times worse. The nerves kick in. Your mind drifts back to thoughts about race day every other moment. You go through the mental checklist of what to pack, is my equipment sorted, do I have everything I need? Then five minutes later you catch yourself going through the list again. 

All a normal part of the process. You've put a lot of time into getting to this point, so it's only natural that you want it to go well. For me I'm about to tackle my fourth Ironman distance event at Cairns this weekend. You'd think after having competed in Kona last year, an event many consider the pinnacle of our sport, I'd be an old hand at this. Rest assured over the past few days I have had moments wishing I was out riding for six hours and not thinking about Sunday!

As I battle my own inner thoughts I thought it appropriate to share some of my tips for getting to the start line relaxed and ready to enjoy the day. 

ONE Surround yourself with good, happy people 
Nothing helps shake the nerves like having a laugh. Spend time with friends and family that offer support and encouragement. Steer clear of those who are highly strung and wound up (or try your best Carl Barron impression to help loosen them up). 

TWO Let go of the things you can't control 
Unless you have developed some incredible skills or have a special family heritage, it is unlikely that you can influence the weather and make it a perfect day for racing. No need to check the weather report every few minutes. What will be will be. 

THREE Be organized but not obsessive 
Consider the aspects of this week you can influence. Book your bike in for a service, refer to the competitor booklet for key times such as bike check-in, write down a list of equipment you need and take the time to pack. I use my iPhone calendar to keep track of the tasks I have each day. Once it's in the calendar that's it - I check it once a day and then get on with having fun.

FOUR Don't worry about others 
Safe to say most of the athletes at the event will have put in a fair amount of training leading into the race. Unfortunately it is too easy to get drawn into comparing yourself against what others have done (or what they brag/exaggerate about doing). At this stage who cares? Focus your energy on your 'own square meter' and what you have prepared to do on race day. It's a long day that can unravel for anyone, even those who claim to train 40+ hours a week. 

FIVE Escape the world of triathlon as best you can 
Once you have gotten the day's tasks done, step away from the action. Make the time to do different things; have coffee with family, watch a movie, read a book or go lay down on the beach. The calmer you are, the less nervous energy you'll be wasting that could be better utilised on race day.

SIX Don't sweat the small things
Guaranteed something will happen that you didn't expect or didn't want. Last year at Cairns I was riding the day before the race and got a flat tubular tyre. Not ideal. Rather than run around the streets with my arms flailing around in a crazed-lunatic kind-of-way, I took a few deep breathes and did what I had to do - take it to the bike shop to get it fixed up. Things will go wrong. When they do, stop. Count to ten, and go through the motions of getting it sorted.

SEVEN Relax and enjoy it
Sit back, put up your feet and bathe in the joy of race week. Reflect on the hard work you have put in, be content with where you are and relax. Breathe in the calm deep into your body, breathe out any tension.

These are just a few of the ideas that have helped me over the past few years. Nothing earth-shattering, but it is amazing how a bit of stress can make the simplest of concepts seem difficult. If all else fails, put on some music and put on your best karaoke performance. Works every time. 

Good luck in training and racing :)

No comments:

Post a Comment