In triathlon, as in any sport or major event in one’s life, there comes the moment of reality where the nerveskick in. Being nervous before a race is normal and it shows you care. A sense of indifference is a warning sign that maybe the passion for what you are doing is missing; a bad sign. Most professional triathletes and age groupers will admit that days, hours and minutes leading up to the start can be nerve racking and sometimes even manifests itself physically as in where is that Port-a-Potty when I need it. It doesn’t matter how hard you have trained and how well prepared you are. The nerves are still there. On numerous occasions I have been asked by fellow triathletes, especially the first timers, what to do with the race morning jitters.
Here is how I have explained it and I have been told by a few that it has helped, so I want to share it. First of all, accept it. The feeling is as normal as breathing. Secondly, think of your nervousness as not being nervous, but rather being excited. Remember that anticipation in itself is actually fun. Remember the Holidays, your birthday, a surprise party for someone, a vacation, an anniversary or just a fun weekend that has been planned. Many times the anticipation for such things have turned out to be more exciting than the event itself. So enjoy the preliminary feelings of what is about to happen.
Thirdly, think of yourself as throwing a big party. You have sent out the invitations to your friends. You have cleaned the house, you have bought the food and beverages. Your manicure and pedicure looks marvelous. You have bought that new dress or rented that tuxedo. You have bathed, showered and cooked. You have been to the hairdresser or gotten a haircut. Nails have been trimmed and a clean shave has been done. You have gotten dressed up and the house smells and looks great. The music has been picked, the drinks have been mixed and the food is in the oven. Voila!!! Now the doorbell rings and your friends arrive. The party is about to start!
Well, that is what triathlon is all about. All that training and all that hard work. The sweat, the frustrations and the soreness. The early, early morning runs, the tired late night swims. The money spent and the countless hours on a hard saddle. All this is the preparation for the big party. Now that it is race day the party can start. All your friends have arrived and it is time to enjoy. Approach race day as your own big party. Nervous, who me? Excited, yes! You have earned this moment, now go out and have fun. After all isn’t that what swimming, biking and running is all about, having fun? And that is what you are about to do.
USAT Florida Region Board Member