Things that go Bump in the Night – Overcoming Fear of the Unknown

author : Jerrykyc
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The cause of the sleeplessness could be anxiety to get out and compete but more often than not the inability to sleep is a fear of what might happen, of what might go bump out on the race course.

By Jerry Kyckelhahn
Author of Chasing Caterpillars 

Not so long ago two of my articles were posted on BeginnerTriathlete.com that discussed fear.  These articles discussed the fear of being foolish and the fear of failure.  The third fear topic concerned the fear of the unknown.  Now we tread into the “things that go bump in the night”.

The phrase “things that go bump in the night” is a commonly used phrase that apparently had its formal origins in the early 20th century in it applications to ghosts, ghouls, goblins and long legged creatures and things that go bump in the night.  Its obvious reference is to fears of the unknown, of things not seen or felt but rather fears that just chilled the soul.  And so this phrase of unique origin certainly has application to the beginner triathlete, and even to those triathletes who are not-so-much beginners.  When one gets ready for a race, first or not, there remains the dread of things unknown, and it is these fears that certainly must be overcome to fully enjoy the sport and the competition.

First, all of us have these fears.  It is not just at the Boy Scout, or Girl Scout, campouts where the ghastly tales of things that go bump in the night are told with the hope of inciting fear in the new camper.  No, at times each of us has the fears of things that we cannot define.  If we assume that it is not the fear of being foolish as we have overcome that fear by donning our finest spandex in public, and it is not the fear of failure as we have resigned ourselves to the understanding that doing our best is success in the sport, then how do we define the fear of the unknown?  We probably will never be able to define that fear so instead it is probably better to just take steps to overcome it.

As one lies in bed the night before his or her first triathlon (or any later triathlon for that matter), it is not unusual to not be able to sleep.  The cause of the sleeplessness could be anxiety to get out and compete but more often than not the inability to sleep is a fear of what might happen, of what might go bump out on the race course.  Thoughts of “Did I forget something?” or “What happens if I have to go to the bathroom?” or even “What if I trip over my own feet?” and other such bumps creep into one’s mind.  So, what are the basic steps to avoid the fears of the bumps?

First, make sure you are prepared

It is much easier to go to sleep or to get to the race course if you are sure that you have not forgotten something.  The key to this is to have a transition pack that has everything that you need for your transition in one pack (or bag though a pack is much tidier).  What do you really need?  Not much - so a checklist is not hard.  Assuming you are going to wear your tri clothes and your bike is with you, what you need is:  goggles and swim cap for the swim; bike shoes and helmet for the bike; and running shoes and race number for the run.  Nice-to-haves include water bottles (filled of course with water or whatever energy cocktails you might desire), gels or bars, HRM, computer and chest strap, and a towel.  If you pack the night before with a note to do a final check in the morning, the night will be much quieter. 

NOTE:  Setting two alarm clocks also alleviates the fear of not waking up in time! 

NOTE 2:  Set the alarms to get up early enough to get a good parking spot.

Second, look past the race

If you feel yourself starting to worry about the race, begin instead to contemplate life after the race.  There is going to be a finish line and you are going to cross it.  Remember that once you cross the finish line, the things that go bump in the night won’t be there.  What does that mean?  It means that they weren’t real anyway.

Finally, laugh at those unknown fears

Speak to them and tell them that they can ride along with you on the race, but they are not going to slow you down!  Those ghosts and ghouls do not like to be laughed at and they will just go away.  Once you have laughed at them and they have scattered, sleep will come much easier and the morning prep for the race will be much more enjoyable.

If this article seems silly, then so be it.  It is written from the perspective of a guy who has had to overcome a lot of silly bumps in order to race and it is very comforting to pass on such silliness, because I just believe that these fears lurk in the minds of triathletes as well as in the minds of mere mortals.  Triathlon is such a great sport to enjoy and with which to have fun that it is important to not let the things that go bump in the night ruin the fun. 

Now go have a great race!


About the book “Chasing Caterpillars

The book, “Chasing Caterpillars”, speaks to those persons who are standing on the edge, thinking about doing a triathlon, or even training for one, but still hesitant to take the plunge. It is a light, fun and motivating book designed to entice newcomers or wannabe’s to go ahead and just do it. The book relates the life experience of the author with the adventures and misadventures that befall the new triathlete. It particularly relates to those of the over 50 age group that have serious doubts. Fear not-- so says the book!

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date: September 23, 2013

Jerrykyc

Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.

avatarJerrykyc

Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.

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