General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Racing pressure. Rss Feed  
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2006-02-10 12:56 PM

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Master
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South Florida
Subject: Racing pressure.
So does anyone find the pressure of racing a negative to their training??  I go through periods when I feel like the pressure to "train" sometimes takes the joy out of exercising...but then it passes...anyone else experience this?


2006-02-10 2:45 PM
in reply to: #343140

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Cycling Guru
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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
I'm probably the opposite. The pressure to want to do well in racing usually makes my training that much harder and better.

More often than not the thing that keeps me going on a crappy workout where I feel like dog poop is visualizing being successful in a race because of the work I was doing at that instant.

But I've also done more races (be they running, swimming, or especially cycling) than I can possibly remember and/or count, so I am kind of used to the racing pressure.

Just have to channel the nervousness and butterflies in another direction and make them work for you, not against you.
2006-02-10 2:47 PM
in reply to: #343140

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The Original
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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
Maybe it's different for women than men, but I stress myself out and am miserable with training when I'm trying to "race."  If I just have a laid back attitude and do my best without pressure I have the best races and have the most fun with training and on race day. 
2006-02-10 2:56 PM
in reply to: #343249

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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
runnergirl29 - 2006-02-10 3:47 PM

Maybe it's different for women than men, but I stress myself out and am miserable with training when I'm trying to "race."  If I just have a laid back attitude and do my best without pressure I have the best races and have the most fun with training and on race day. 


I have to agree with you. I have been a collegiete rower for the last four years. When I would go out to train or to race the more pressure I put on myself the worst I did. If I went out not caring, I would do great.
2006-02-10 3:01 PM
in reply to: #343140

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Pro
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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
I sometimes find my long term goals intersecting with short term expectations, which is kind of silly.  That makes some days of training unenjoyable.  Only have one tri under my belt so I suppose I could be too dumb to feel pressure from racing.  I hope some day to win a local race or two, but I hope it doesnt get to the point I feel pressure to do so.  In it more for a healthy lifestyle than nice shiny medals and ribbons, not that I wont like em if they do come someday.
2006-02-10 5:20 PM
in reply to: #343140

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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.

I used to feel pressure to train so I would not come in last in races.

Now I love training, getting faster, fitter, and seeing what I can do. But the race out there is the carrot. People at work think I'm nuts for training for a race in June and have been since September. I have a spreadsheet of my goal times compared to my times from last year along with the map of the route. I look at it many times a day.

My negative thinking gets in the way of my racing. If I do poorly or worse than I hoped in the swim (or other part) often it gets me in a circle of negative thinking which is self fulfilling. One of my goals for this season is to have fun racing and enjoy the competition and seeing how well I can do knowing that I do my best on any given race day and getting negative thoughts out of my head.



2006-02-10 5:26 PM
in reply to: #343140

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Expert
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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
If I don't have a race on the horizon it is very difficult for me to stay focused in training. The race is like the carrot on the end of the stick for me.
I'm not sure how many races you've done, but maybe that will come with more races

-Seb
2006-02-10 7:00 PM
in reply to: #343140

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Master
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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
I would say its the opposite for me. For me racing tends to focus my training. During those long winter months when there is no race on the horizon, I find it is so much easier to slip out of my routine and the training feels like drudgery. When there is a race coming up, I find myself visualizing my self in the race and that positive feeling make m training fun. I love the expireience of particating in a race, testing your mettle on the course, and then hanging out with folks who can relate to what we put ourselves thru. Also, I'd say I'm a very content middle of the pack racer, so I don't tend to heep alot of racing pressure on top of myself.
2006-02-11 10:14 AM
in reply to: #343395

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Master
2005
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South Florida
Subject: RE: Racing pressure.

sebjamesm - 2006-02-10 6:26 PM I'm not sure how many races you've done, but maybe that will come with more races -Seb

Last year was my first season of tri racing, and I did 6 or 7 sprints...but I've been running for 10 years or so,  and racing that long.  The racing is definitely good to keep me focused on training, but it gets in the way sometimes of just going out for a run/bike/swim with a friend and not worrying about time, distance, pace, cadence, sets, etc. and just enjoying the beautiful day....

These feelings come and go, I guess depending on what else is going on that particular day/week/month...perhaps I need to read one of those books on vision/foucsing. 

2006-02-11 10:28 AM
in reply to: #343140

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Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
This remnds me of a story :

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"

"It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'

"It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.




  • ..bottom line to me is...just do it, there are great days and good days, but being on a swin/run/bike or whatever is better than a couch....just my 2 cents

  • 2006-02-11 11:01 AM
    in reply to: #343140

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    Veteran
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    Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
    That is a REALLY good question! I have had several times in my career when preceived pressure from people expecting certain results from me has kept me from racing big races. I regret that so much now. I have learned that this was pressure I put on myself.

    I believe that the three greatest areas of improvement for most triathletes (beginner to professional) are technique (movement economy), nutrition, and psychology. Below is an article on psychological mode that I wrote for Inside Triathlon several years ago. I hope you find it helpful.

    Ken


    Manipulating Psychological Mode for Optimal Training and Racing
    © 2005 by Ken Mierke

    "Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back...play for her." - U.S Olympic soccer star Mia Hamm

    I once coached an athlete through qualifying for the Navy SEALS. He was a serious triathlete, a regional champion, but his real goal was always the SEALS. After years of training for this goal, we sat down for a strategy session right before he left to take his big test. As we were leaving, I said to him, “Have fun.” He was furious with me. He had worked so hard to prepare for this test, and he thought that my telling him to have fun meant I thought that he wasn’t taking it seriously. Serious and fun are not opposites ? in fact, they can and should go together. Learning to bring these together on race day will lead to peak performance.

    Every athlete has had workouts and races during which producing and sustaining high heart rates was so challenging and exciting that the pain and effort almost went unnoticed. Other times, eight two-minute hill repeats can seem intolerable. Often, the difference between these two experiences is the mindset, or psychological mode, in which an athlete begins a workout or race. Few athletes understand what a powerful force this can be in training and racing. Even fewer realize that psychological mode is something that can and should be manipulated.
    Every athlete has an optimal level of psychological arousal for peak performance. If psychological arousal is too low, the athlete will be under-motivated and won’t perform maximally. If arousal is too high, the athlete will suffer from anxiety, which can impair race performance. Instead of forcing yourself to gear down psychologically to avoid becoming too anxious before a race or workout, you can learn to activate a different part of your psyche that thrives on higher arousal, to maximize performance.

    Achievement mode
    Racing and very hard workouts tend to activate what we refer to as achievement mode. While in the achievement mode, athletes want to succeed: to climb faster, pass their rivals, win the race, set a new personal best. Unfortunately, this is not the ideal mode for racing or for hard workouts. When in the achievement mode, athletes find high arousal produces anxiety and low arousal produces feelings of peace. Of course, racing and hard workouts are extremely high arousal situations, both physically and psychologically. Maintaining high physical and emotional intensity while in this mode triggers frustration and increased perceptions of both exertion and pain, even while the athlete is performing well.

    As an exercise physiologist and coach, I realize the importance of structure in training, goal setting, and using numbers to control an athlete’s training. I also realize that these numbers can take on a larger-than-life role in the athlete’s mind and become more detrimental than beneficial. I remember one cyclist I coached who set a 45-second personal record in a 40K time trial in his first podium appearance, but was infuriated because he could not hold the heart rate he had planned to. Annual training plans, heart rate zones, periodization, and all the structured, goal-oriented, number-oriented tools, which are useful for preparing an athlete for peak performance, are intrinsically related to the achievement mode. These things have their time and place, but on race day the preparation is done and it is time to shift modes and go race.

    Hedonic mode
    The second psychological mode is the hedonic (pleasure-seeking) mode. In this mode, athletes swim, bike, and run to the point of exhaustion simply for the joy it brings. When in this mode, athletes find high arousal to produce feelings of challenge and excitement, while they find low arousal to be boring. This is the ideal state of mind for racing and high-intensity training, but it is not an attitude that comes naturally at these times. The pressure of performing well tends to shift serious athletes into the achievement mode at the times they most need the benefits of the hedonic mode. While we all enjoy racing and hard training, we also have goals. We train hard and race to make progress … to ACHIEVE. Success is not measured by pleasure, but by results. Learning to shift into the hedonic mode at appropriate times, even though it will not be natural at those times, is critical to producing your best performances when you need to.

    The achievement mode is appropriate for workouts that demand discipline or must remain low intensity. Longer rides and runs with strictly controlled low intensity demand the discipline and patience provided by this mode. An athlete in the hedonic mode would find these workouts endlessly boring. Ever attacked a hill during a long base phase workout that was supposed to be kept aerobic? We all have. This is the hedonic mode kicking in. Specific work on pedal-stroke technique and other important workouts that demand concentration, but require minimal intensity may also benefit from this mode. The low intensity and arousal are not stimulating to the athlete engaged in the hedonic mode.

    Focus on Feelings, not on Numbers
    While heart rate, wattage, and miles per hour can be critical in training, sometimes used almost exclusively to govern workout intensity, I prefer to have athletes rely more on perceived exertion during races. Heart rate and wattage can be useful gauges, but overemphasis on the numbers tends to shift athletes out of the ideal psychological mode for racing. I like to teach my athletes to become intimately acquainted with how their body feels at the intensity level which will be required in their racing and to seek to reproduce those feelings on race day. Using heart rate, wattage, and even laboratory test results improves training efficiency. During this training the athlete needs to remain tuned in to perceived exertion, even as he trains by numbers, to learn to accurately and consistently perceive intensity on race day. Prepare by the numbers; race by feel.

    Enjoy the moment
    Did you ever watch Michael Jordan score 50 points in a basketball game and see the huge smile on his face? Was he smiling because he scored 50 points or did he score 50 points because he was smiling? British psychologist Dr. Michael Apter’s research says the answer to both questions is yes. Great athletes in every sport are at their best under intense pressure. They fall into the hedonic mode instead of the achievement mode and the high arousal brings out their best. Great athletic performances are expressions of the joy of the sport. If you lose touch with that because of the will to achieve, your performance will suffer.

    Don’t “Psyche Up”
    We do not like the idea of our athletes getting “psyched up” for races. This method of increasing arousal shifts them into the achievement mode and generally does not produce great performances. Athletes who have trained hard and long for an event will naturally be aroused come race day. he invest,ent in training ensures this. Artificially increasing this is neither necessary nor beneficial.

    Race Day is “Payoff”
    I like to remind athletes that they invest an enormous amount in preparing for races. They train hard and with discipline. They avoid late-night partying. They eat a healthy diet. i like to have my athletes perceive race day as the payoff, something to be looked forward to, not as the final exam to be dreaded. This kind of attitude shifts the athlete toward the hedonic mode, which brings out their best on race day. Many great performances have resulted from an athlete thinking that he has stored many hours of hard training in his legs and race day he just “lets it out”.

    Understanding how, when, and why to shift to the appropriate psychological mode for different workouts and races enables an athlete to enjoy discipline and control when appropriate and to relish the challenge, effort, and pain associated with high-intensity workouts and races when that is required.

    Suggested readings:
    Apter, M.J. (1984) Reversal theory and personality: a review. Journal of Research in Personality, 18, 265-288
    Csikszententmihalyi, M.(1990). Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row.

    Ken Mierke is Head Coach of Fitness Concepts (wwwFitness-Concepts.com), developer of Evolution Running (www.EvolutionRunning.com ), and author of The Triathlete’s Guide to Run Training. He may be reached at CoachKen@erols.com

    In summary
    Every athlete has an optimal level of psychological arousal for peak performance. If psychological arousal is too low, the athlete is under-motivated and won’t perform maximally. If arousal is too high, the athlete will suffer from some degree of anxiety.





    2006-02-11 11:32 AM
    in reply to: #343613

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    Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
    Mimir98 - 2006-02-11 8:14 AM

    but it gets in the way sometimes of just going out for a run/bike/swim with a friend and not worrying about time, distance, pace, cadence, sets, etc. and just enjoying the beautiful day....



    Just because you race doesn't mean you can't just go out for a casual run, ride etc. I race a fair bit too but I often leave HRM at home and just cruise...it's still a good workout that will accrue benefits to racing......I need to enjoy the activity in its most elementary form or I won't stick with it. Workout regimen becomes a drag....
    2006-02-11 12:20 PM
    in reply to: #343140

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    Master
    2005
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    South Florida
    Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
    wow, Ken, great article!  It totally hits the nail on the head for me....I LOVE being outside and running, swimming and being on my bike, but lose sight of this sometimes to achieve..I also know I have some self-defeating behaviors come race day -I need to find how to shift myself into pleasure mode - Thanks again, Ken!!
    2006-02-12 3:29 PM
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    Champion
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    Subject: RE: Racing pressure.

    racing is not healthy for me, or, more likely, I am not healthy enough to figure out how to race healthily!  Races, for me, are giant group training sessions with food and swag...

     

    love that article, ken, thanks. 

    2006-02-12 10:16 PM
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    Subject: RE: Racing pressure.
    Mimir98 - 2006-02-10 12:56 PM

    So does anyone find the pressure of racing a negative to their training?? I go through periods when I feel like the pressure to "train" sometimes takes the joy out of exercising...but then it passes...anyone else experience this?


    I hear what you are saying.

    As I think most of us are on here... I am a "Type A" personality... and I have a tendency to take all the joy out of something by trying to overachieve. "I have to run exactly 10 miles this week, because I have a race coming up."

    So, last year, my focus was to have fun and to do what I felt like doing.

    For example, if it was a beautiful day for running... but I needed to swim... I would go run and swim another day. Or, instead of doing brick workouts, I would go do a 30 mile no-drop ride with a group... because it was fun. Or... if I just didn't feel like running that day, I didn't.

    Now, keep in mind... I am not fast. I never made the entire run in my tri's.... but, I had fun. I also had fun training, and even though I "worked out" 5-6 days a week, it never felt like it a chore.

    I will also say though, that I am more motivated to stick to a schedule of working out... if I have my money down on an event. But, I always try to remind myself to have fun with it.
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