Pre-Race Jitters Part 2: Dealing with Pre-Race Stress

author : jgosse66
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Here is my five step plan for getting mentally prepared for next year’s Ironman Newfoundland 70.3, or any other race that you may have.

In my last article, I wrote about my nerves prior to Ironman Newfoundland 70.3, 2007. While preparing for Ironman Florida 2006, I did a lot of research into race preparedness, including mental preparation and the proper state of mind before a race. The articles I read seemed to have a common theme: Identify the sources of performance-limiting stress and eliminate them, or come up with a plan to deal with them.

To recap my previous article, a series of events leading up to race week prevented me from being 100% mentally prepared. These included:
1. Shortened training season due to weather and injury.
2. Work-related stress.
3. Lack of sleep associated with hot weather during race week.
4. Failure to reach my target race weight.
5. Logistical challenges.
6. Unexpected bike maintenance issues.

Of course, eliminating all these events is not really practical. Checking equipment to be sure it is in good working order is easy, but quitting my job and moving to Florida to enhance my training program is just not going to happen.

What can’t be eliminated must be dealt with. So, as promised, here is my five step plan for getting mentally prepared for next year’s Ironman Newfoundland 70.3, or any race that you may have.

1. Make sure my gear is 100 percent ready. My plan is to bring my bike in to my local shop for a total makeover during the winter. Strip down, clean, and grease every joint, replace the cables, brake pads, and bar tape, and give the drive train a good inspection. If required, I’ll probably start replacing and upgrading my components. I also plan to go over my wetsuit and repair the zipper and any fingernail cuts.

2. Stay within five pounds of my target body weight. Doing this accomplishes several things. First, it changes the focus of my nutritional plan to fueling my training sessions instead of losing weight. Second, it makes my splits during my training sessions more realistic. Third it helps prevent injuries, especially during run training. Fourth, it will make me feel more confident when I finally line up for the race start.

3. Strive to stay injury free. Some injuries like breaking a pinky toe are just not preventable. However, working on overall and core strength as well as flexibility will go a long way to ensure that when the roads are dry and ready for riding and running, I won’t be sidelined by a nagging injury. That means I can follow a well-planned training program, instead of trying to fit 20 weeks of training into six weeks. That will mean showing up on race day prepared.

4. Take care of the logistical details of race week. That might mean taking a couple of fans with me to try and get breeze flowing through the bedroom at night. It may also mean getting organized, gathering contact information for people I know are participating, and maybe even planning a few group training sessions during race week.

5. Maintain a positive attitude. Some situations just can’t be eliminated. But there are ways to deal with them positively so that they don’t affect your frame of mind during race week. There are excellent resources to help with this. A couple of my favorite books on the matter are The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. The Secret teaches that positive things happen when you maintain a positive outlook. Dale Carnegie lists examples of people who turned their lives around in the face of adversity, and eliminated worry. I am also thinking about reading Lance’s book, It’s Not About the Bike. You may not be able to change the outcome of things, but you can change your mental outlook. There is certainly more to be gained from having a positive outlook than being angry.

I am sure that most everyone can relate to my examples. If you are training for a big event, and find yourself becoming overwhelmed by outside influences that are adding to an already stressful preparation, maybe this article will help get you to the start line a little more mentally prepared. Here’s hoping that lining up at the start of next year’s race, I will be primed and ready to execute my race plan.


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date: January 1, 2008


Triathlon, "D'UH" Diving, skiing, sailing, eating, Red wine, and Good Pasta.


Triathlon, "D'UH" Diving, skiing, sailing, eating, Red wine, and Good Pasta.

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