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Having A Bad Day - TURN IT AROUND!

Race Day! This is why you have spent the past three months of your free time training. You ostracized yourself from the rest of the World in order to enjoy a precious three hours of sheer enjoyment and personal agony. You dedicated so much time and energy to have the perfect race. Your training plan worked without a glitch. You tapered so well you are ready to explode.

Boom!!!! The gun sounds. Pow!!!! Stars are bouncing around in your head as an elbow just clocked you from your friendly competitor. Your left goggle eyepiece is embedded in your eye socket. Now comes the true meaning of "finding oneself".

What do you do as situations arise which prevent you from having that perfect race? Do you throw in the towel? Or, do you take the event as a unique aspect of the sport and make the best of it? I present to you some possibilities to make the best of incidents so that you may still cross the line with a smile and an acknowledgment of personal achievement.

To prevent unwanted incidents from getting the best of you, and ruining your race, is to mentally prepare for the improbable. Visualization lets you imagine what might occur: getting kicked during the swim, losing your goggles, flat tire, dropped chain, bike crash, bad roads, transition goofs, blisters, rain, heat, going off course, no water left at the aid station or cows crossing the road. If reality does happen, you have already been there and done that in your mind. With mental imagery, you picture yourself living the incident. Instead of being stressed and panicked, you picture yourself calmly correcting the situation or accepting the situation as part of racing.

Throughout my career, I have had several flat tires at races. Since I have pictured myself calmly fixing a flat in my mind time and time again, I am able to more efficiently fix it when it really occurs. Visualization can be used in every aspect. It's raining. Most people hate to compete in the rain. You have mentally pictured yourself feeling comfortable in the rain and not tense because the pavement is wet. You swim off course. You have pictured this possibly happening in your mind and you calmly get back on course and continue to race well.

Another way to be prepared if things aren't going according to plan on race day is to practice solving a problem before race day. For instance, practice putting your bike chain back on the ring while you ride. On many occasions, I have seen people drop their chain in a race. They become flabbergasted, stop their bike and yank on the chain, getting the chain stuck even more. Most of the time, an athlete will be able to put the chain back on the ring while the bike is still moving and lose minimal time. Practicing will make the race incident less of a shock to you.

Change your brain waves. Your brain is intelligent and sometimes too smart for its own good. Why in the heck does your brain want to race? All racing does is stress the body and make the brain work harder. Many times during the race your brain will tell you to quit or walk. It blurts out negative thoughts and entices you to stop at the local liquor store to buy a beer. When my brain wants to stop, that is exactly what I do. I yell "STOP"! In doing so, I tell my brain to change its negative thinking and start thinking positive thoughts. Find a key word that you can verbalize which triggers you to change your mental thinking.

Visualization, practice and changing the way you think. These three actions will help you in time of need. See you at the races.

© Wes Hobson Performance Inc.