Preparing for your Team In Training® (TNT) race is not only about the physical preparation but conquering the psychological and emotional barriers. As you look ahead to the season, begin to formulate a mental strategy. Remember, planning to race well is two fold; psychological and physical. Having self-doubt fear are too common hurdles for all athletes. The difference between the ones who succeed and those who fail can be offset by a psychological plan.
As you approach your race, take the final month in preparation to outline a plan. If you are within a month of your competition, take ten minutes, three times a week, to schedule mental programming. Training the psychological part of your event will clarify your expectations, reconfirm your objectives and goals and more importantly, allow you to deal with diversity during the race.
Fear: We all carry some “fear baggage” as the race date nears. An athlete’s fear towards competition can be categorized into three categories:
1. Fear of the commitment to race to your training level
2. Fear of a poor performance and not satisfying your friends, family, sponsors and coaches expectations
3. Fear of the unknown race challenges in your event.
So, let’s take a look at each of these normal fear problems.
Fear of commitment comes back to your inability to reconnect and recognize your plan and training focus to achieve your most lofty goals. Don’t worry about what you might not have accomplished in your training routine – remind yourself of what you have conquered. Visualize yourself on the course with adjectives that describe your personal convictions to the upcoming race. List these qualities, e.g., if your coach or mentor has laid out an early season training program, recognize the steps that you master as the weeks roll by. See yourself in the training cycles noting your physical qualities in each sport. Long, fluid swimming strokes may be a phrase that you adopt in your training mantra and visualization package.
Fear of a poor performance stems from a psychological burden to not let go of your life stresses. If you cannot control the worry and cannot determine the fate of the worry, then let it go. Write a list of all your worries and determine which you can take decisive action upon and, equally powerful, is to eliminate the destructive problems which cause worries. Additionally, your friends and families will accept any outcome. They should be your ultimate supporters. If you have outside influences and pressures – send them a personal note and share your expectations with them. Don’t embellish your training, nor your ability – be honest and forthright with your comments.
Fear of the unknown in a race can be alleviated by knowing the course and dividing the race into sections. Having mini races within your big race restores the mental power to enjoy the moment. The process or mental games that you play during the event keeps your mind on the exact moment. Diverting your energy to what may happen diminishes your capacity to perform. Visualize the challenging and easy segments of your race.
Predicting a successful race should not be a mental knot of unfounded expectations. If you sit down and calmly evaluate your strengths and not dwell upon your limitations – the probability of a successful race is quite high.
Faith, Risk and Obligation
Faith: Restore your faith in yourself during the pre-race preparation. Savoring you successes along the journey will give you the highest probability of a brilliant race.
Risk: When you’re in the race, don’t be afraid to step slightly out of your comfort boundary. Feeling psychologically constrained even though your body may feel fantastic will limit your ultimate performance. Simply, when you feel good – go for it!
Obligation: As you reflect on your race – be passionate about your race vision and goals. You have an obligation to yourself to be the best you can be on race day – don’t be denied!
For all TNT athletes, the race is about the support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We all have a much easier agenda than the kids and adults that battle a real race everyday. Be your best.