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
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
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.