The thrill of race day… the buzz at the starting line… the anticipation and hard work that went into getting there… What is it about race day that we get so excited about?
Why are we willing to wake up early, to push ourselves to the limit daily, to pour our money into equipment and gear, give our time into preparing for one day and one race? How do we make sure that what we put in is all worth it in the end!?
If you’re going to commit to this race, you might want to make sure that you actually show up on race day. Yes, of course, physically show up… But also show up as the absolute best version of yourself.
So often, I see athletes that have put it all on the line only to get to a challenging point in their race and talk themselves out of it. Or to roll up in the morning despite all their hard work, get wiped out by the emotional havoc that nerves and anxiety have the ability to create. In that moment when things get tough (you know that point in the race I’m talking about!!) they suddenly start to convince themselves that “I just want to finish… just make it to the end! I don’t really care how I do, as long as I finish…”
Well, hang on a second… you actually do care how you do! At least, you cared a lot MORE when you you’re not in that moment when the element of pain is burdening you. But something in that moment was too tough for your mind to deal with, so you threw in the mental towel. Our dreams are quick to become insignificant under the pressure of a few moments of pain.
The key towards actually showing up on race day is being prepared. You know how to be prepared with your training and equipment. Packing up the race bag with everything you need. A big piece to “showing up” on race day means also packing your Mental Bag… Here are a few tools to keep in that bag:
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Visualizing is all about leveraging emotion!! Sure you can visualize your transitions, race start, or finish. But make sure you’re harnessing the power of emotion by actually FEELING the nerves and excitement before the race (make sure you’re harness calm excitement and confidence, not anxiety!!) as well as the feelings of strength and persistence, mid-race. While we’re at it, don’t let that visualization end at the finish line. Keep going and feel the pride and excitement of achieving your goal!
What are you telling yourself? In training, in competition and at any moment, we have tons of thoughts running through our brain that control the things we believe about ourselves. Self-talk is the single most powerful tool you can use to change your life experience. And it can also be the most challenging to control! Get a start at changing your self-talk with Mantras. Find a sentence (“I am ____”) that fillz the gap between who you are and who you want to be. Write it down. Read it in the morning and at night before bed. Repeat it throughout the day when you need a reminder. Repeat it on race day. Use it and let it build the person that you want to be.
For example: One of my mantras is “I remain as I am, disregarding what happens in my surroundings” because it reminds me that in every moment I have all I need to be happy. I read it in the morning (while cultivate the emotions that go along with it) and again at night. And I’ve found that my mantra will pop into my head at random times throughout the day.
Just like we train our body to build endurance, there is also a lot of mental endurance involved. It’s easy to fall into the belief that we are the way that we are… but really we get to choose how tough we are, both physically and mentally. Each time that you’re challenged, you are experiencing an opportunity to grow and build your mental endurance.
BONUS — If you are looking to build mental endurance, use a mantra along the lines of: “I am mentally stronger with each and every day. I can handle ANY challenge that comes my way.”
It’s all about BALANCE
We train and look forward eagerly for the race. But make sure that you’re training for LIFE. Every day needs to fill you with as much joy as the race day thrill. Sure, the buzz at the starting line is unique, but don’t sacrifice your daily happiness for the potential future happiness of race day. Ask yourself: Was today as full of joy, happiness and connection as possible? If not, what can I do tomorrow to make each day better than the last! It is possible for every single day to be the best day ever.