My training, racing, things that go through my head, memorable moments, and such.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't Be Nervous

I have always suffered from some pretty bad pre-race nerves. I don't know why. No matter how irrational it is, I can't entirely control the feeling of panic I get before races.

When I was young I had a huge mental block against 400 freestyle. My coach, likely knowing this, always seemed to enter me in it hoping one day my fear would be gone. Alas, as I sat on the bus to swim meets, and my fellow team members exchanged pokemon cards or watched Ferris Bueller's Day off, I would be busy wishing that the bus would break down, or that the pool would be empty so that I wouldn't have to swim. I would dramatically stare out the window and hope for natural disasters to strike the pool. Unfortunately it took many years for my swim meet fear to calm down. I think deep down inside I still have a thing against 400's.

Or then there was my first Alberta Summer Games for triathlon. I was only twelve years old, and to me the Alberta Summer Games were the Olympics. I had qualified on a mountain bike, but was borrowing a ten speed for the race. The night before I listened to my whale tape in my purple walkman (even then I was such a pathetic sleeper I needed ocean music to help me fall asleep), and tried not to think about the race. The morning came, and I tried to hold the tears in. I was panicking, and also feeling a little sorry for myself, as my mom wasn't there in the morning to braid my hair. All of a sudden I was standing in the 25 meter pool. My goggles fogged up with tears. The gun went off. I went for it. Despite the fact that I didn't know how to bike (I stood up the whole time), and I never 'trained' for running, so I had a horrible stitch, I ended up winning. That was likely the pivotal moment for me, the point where I realized, hey, who cares if you are crying on the start line? Doesn't mean you can't have the race of your life! (Or in this case, a slightly faster race than the other 12/13 year olds who didn't train either).

I tried to find the picture of me when I was 12, but of course the internet didn't exist back then, so I included the earliest picture I could find. This one is from 2006 (when I was 16) in Edmonton. It was my 2nd Junior Elite race. 

Since then I have tried to improve my mental toughness. I don't really get too worked up about workouts or little races anymore. Big races are another story, but I am managing. Going into this race season I have one philosophy: Give it everything you have. If you follow the plan, and race smart but don't hold back, and finish with every ounce of your strength, then no matter the result you can't be mad at yourself. If you go in it to win it, and you end up placing last, you can't be disappointed if you did the 100% best you could do.

Anyways, that is my little mental trick for myself, in order to relieve some of the internal pressure that builds as racing season comes along. You can only do the best you can do. Hope it helps cause I am racing soon!