Someone asked me what they should do about nerves for their upcoming first NYC Triathlon this weekend. Should they have a drink? Is there a magic pill they can take before the race? It made me think about what helps me when I get nervous before a race. It reminded me to listen to my own advice!
Here’s what I told him:
This is really where the mental aspect of triathlon and all endurance sports comes into play. Yes a drink or a supplement can help calm us down but what it really comes down to is finding a place of calm within ourselves. Especially amongst the external noises and distractions. Whether it’s by taking 5-10 deep breaths, by reminding ourselves “I can do this”, or visualizing a positive race experience.
You go through a kaleidoscope of emotions the days leading up to race day and of course the hours and minutes leading up to the start of the race. And I’m sure you are familiar with this already. The fear and the nerves are healthy and provide you with an extra burst of energy. But it’s also helpful to divert your mind away from the nerves. Imagine the crowds, the course, the feelings you will encounter along the way. It might feel like the hardest thing in the world at certain parts and at other times you will feel elated.
The first year I did NYC Tri was my first year doing triathlons and I was terrified of the swim. I had a moment of panic in the water but then got my mind on track thinking about “Where am I? Why am I here?” That year it was my uncle who passed away from cancer that brought me there. So think about your personal reasons. What inspires you? What motivates you to do this?
This is your day. Your experience. And you are going to rock it.
I wasn’t expecting an answer to my questions but here is what he got back to me with, and I think it’s perfect:
Thank you. All my teammates are inspirational to me.
We lift each other up, people!! Sending all the best to my friends and teammates who will be racing NYC Triathlon this weekend.