Control What YOU Can


Posted by Coach Brad Noble

We have all been there, I promise! Leading up to race day can be a whirlwind with all the questions, stress, tons of what ifs, and worrying about what we can and cannot control. Am I right? I thought so...

In today’s world of social media, every race out there has a FACEBOOK page, a TWITTER account or something of the like. Along with that, on each site, there are a ton of people giving advice, offering an opinion, or simply stirring the proverbial pot to make us wonder or worry about a great many things we simply shouldn’t. Will the race be wetsuit legal? Will it be windy? Will it be humid? Will there be last-minute course changes?

Being a triathlete requires a lot of commitment work, time and training. The overwhelming feelings of accomplishment as we cross the finish line are unparalleled, and they make our sacrifices worthwhile. But what happens if we don’t finish? What if those “what ifs” become realities? Will our sacrifices, and those of our families, still feel justified?

Triathletes, well most of us, are stubborn, uber-motivated, and we like to have some say or control in nearly all we do. Unfortunately, in triathlon, it is impossible to predict, let alone control, all of the variables that can negatively impact one’s race. Whether you are new to the sport, a seasoned professional or somewhere in between, the unknowns that face us on race day can be a source of stress and discomfort, which is something that can be quite uncomfortable, especially for type-A competitors. Take a look at the blank stare on an athlete’s face on race morning of an IRONMAN and you will see what I mean. We pace, bouncing on our toes and rubbing our hands together as we wait for our training to be put to the ultimate test. It is in these pre-race moments that the tiniest slivers of doubt can take over if we aren’t careful.

So what is the solution? How do we stop negativity from ending our race before it even begins? How do we avoid distractions and get out of our own way so that we can realize our potential and be rewarded for our dedication and hard work? The answer might actually be as simple as the theme song from my daughters’ favorite movie: we “Let it Go.” We stop dwelling on the negative and focus on the things we CAN control. Train hard, plan and then execute. Believe in yourself and recognize that all you can do is race the race and in the conditions you are given along with everyone else out there.

A healthy mindset for any triathlete is to consider how you will react to the unexpected. But let go of the worry and work the problem. If you are racing a hot race, you should probably be heat training. When I trained for IRONMAN TX in 2014, for example, I focused my training based on what I did know, not what I didn’t. I knew it would be hot and humid. Since it was a May race, and there was neither heat nor humidity where I live during my winter training period, I got permission from the manager at my local LA Fitness to bring a spin bike into the sauna at 5 am 3 days a week. Instant IMTX conditions…I also bought a sauna suit and an extra space heater for my “pain cave” in my basement, road my trainer, and ran the treadmill in that heat. I prepared for what I could, and it paid off.

There is always a way to work the problem. If you’re not a good swimmer, hire a swim coach. If you have a concern about a blowout on the bike, become proficient at changing a flat tire. If transition is a concern, become efficient at stripping out of your wetsuit and doing efficient dismounts. If you’re racing a hilly course, practice on hills – and that goes for both the bike and the run portions. On longer races, be prepared with proper nutrition and hydration. Find what works for you, even if you have to be creative and improvisational.

Another helpful hint: If you do decide to do an Iron distance race you will be presented with 5 different bags for your day. Morning clothes, T1, Special Needs Bike, T2, and Special Needs Run. This is all you are “legally” allowed for your event, but you can put whatever you may need or want for your race in these bags. I personally like a couple McDonald’s Hamburgers in Special Needs, but that’s another story. #askmelater. I recommend labeling brown grocery bags with each type of bag and place what you want in each before leaving for your race. By doing so, there is NO confusion or stress when you get the “official bags” and start wondering what to put where. It is just another way to minimize distractions and worry on race day. Again, BE PREPARED!!

You may see a trend here. These are ALL things we CAN CONTROL and where we should be directing our time and energy to make our race a tad less stressful. Days leading up to the race, and especially race eve are filled with things to do, checklists, planning, mental preparation, eating, hydrating, packing your race bags, and then hopefully a great nights rest.

Hopefully, YOU are ready, well trained, mentally prepared, everything is where you want it, the weather is perfect, and everything goes according to plan. But do you want to know the real secret? ONCE THE HEAR THE BOOM OF THE CANNON, ALL OF YOUR STRESS IS INSTANTLY GONE. If you’ve done the prep work, then when push comes to shove, your body will know what to do and you will no longer have time to worry. Let go of the doubts and remember one important thing: this is supposed to be a momentous, life changing and most of all FUN!!!! No matter what the day throws your way, good or bad, the finish is worth the journey, I PROMISE!!!

~ Coach Brad Noble

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