Whether you are a new athlete training for your first triathlon or an experienced World Champion, experiencing highs and lows race during the process as well as race day are part of the experience.
How you handle setbacks will determine the outcome and whether your finish successful or with disappointment. When you focus on what you can control, mainly your attitude, you will overcome any obstacle that presents itself.
When you experience a low moment in training or during an event, maybe a flat tire, a side stitch, overheating, nausea etc. recognize it, and take an assessment of what may have caused it and then resolve it (fix the flat, take deep breaths, pour water and ice over your head, self induced vomiting). Knowing how to handle those situations comes with experience.
Hopefully the following list is something many of you have dealt with in training. Before your event if it a good idea to create a “What if “XY and Z happens” list followed by a “How will I deal with XY and Z” outcomes.
Things that every athlete should know.
1. If you are cramping, ingest some salt and water and slow down if you are at a pace higher then planned
2. If you get a side stitch you might be shallow breathing, so relax and take some deep breaths
3. If you dont handle heat well consider stuffing ice down your tri suit, in your hat, poor water over your head at every aid station. Next time you are about to sign up for a race consider the heat factor and find another event in cooler climate.
4. When you energy drops significantly, most likely your blood sugar is low, take in some calories in the form of electrolyte drink, gels or whatever you are prepared with race day.
5. A slight head wind on the bike is out of your control and may really irritate you. Remember, everyone else has to deal with the same headwind and your negative response to it can be an energy drainer. If wind does bother you make sure train in windy conditions so you develop the mental strength to overcome it race day
6. A slightly cooler temperature of the water might make you breathless and panic. Warm up and acclimate to the colder water before your wave starts. Click here for cold water acclimation tips.
7. Don’t let the weather or terrain get in the way of your fitness. Plan for every event to be hot, windy and hilly.
8. Flat tires and other mechanicals will happen. I broke a chain at mile 42 in Ironman CDA in 2008. A new experience, who carries an extra chain with them while racing. I learned that if you are fortunate to have the race official ride by and call the bike mechanic they will come to fix it. After the 25 minute delay I assessed the situation, got back on track with my nutrition and pace, and ended up running my best marathon to secure a slot to Kona and won the Ironman Championships that year.
Your mind is very powerful. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. So take advantage of it. And use your head, not your fitness for the final portion of your race and don’t forget to smile for your finish line photo!
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