Let Team GB guide you towards the race startline with our beginner's psychology special
Issue ID: April 271
“Approach your race with a series of goals. It could be getting to the first buoy high up in the field, holding a certain pace on the bike and negative splitting the run but make sure you stick to them.” Will Clarke, British elite racer
Joce Brooks, psychologist with Team GB and the English Institute of sport, shows you how to build that winning mindset and banish those nagging nerves
1 WRITE IT ALL DOWN
Jot down a pre-race plan and some structure for leading into the race – when to get certain things ready and packed, when to do some mental preparation and so on.
This can sit alongside your physical preparation, nutritional plan and warm-up on the day. An example structure might be: two days before; one day before; night before; morning of race; one hour before; 10mins before; last thoughts on the start.
2 RECORD THE POSITIVES
Regularly jot down the positives from your training in a diary. Aim to write an absolute minimum of three positives at the end of every week – what’s gone well in training; how you’ve dealt with tough sessions; what you’ve achieved, and so on. As well as boosting your confidence as your training progresses, you can revisit and use these positives closer to the race to help boost your mindset.
3 REMEMBER HOW YOU DO THINGS BEST
Consider the following: how do you swim/bike/run at your best? What are you focusing on? What allows you the best swim start for you? Where does your focus need to be to achieve this? What do you need to focus on
to transition well? How do you push through when it hurts?
4 REHEARSE THAT START-LINE STATE OF MIND
Think how you want to be mentally and emotionally on the start line (calm and focused or excited and pumped-up) and work backwards from there. What can you do/read/listen to/think about/look at that can help you achieve that emotional and mental state of mind for before you perform?
5 DON’T LET NERVES UNNERVE YOU
Nerves or butterflies can be interpreted many ways. They can be a good indication that you’re excited and ready to race, or can be a distraction. For those of you who do worry, draw two columns on a sheet of paper. Write your worries and negatives in one column and then the actions you can take that will help you in the second. You can tear off the worries and throw them in the bin so you’re left with a list of the things that will help you. Get those butterflies flying in the formation.
6 YOU’RE NOT AT HOME TO MR NEGATIVE
Unless negative thinking drives and motivates you, banish it. Replace sentences that begin with ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not’ with those starting with ‘I can’ and ‘If I do’.
7 EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Think through possible situations – from punctures to nutrition issues and inclement weather – that could throw you on the day and how you want to respond to those ups and downs. There’ll always be distractions and things you can’t control come race day. It’s how you respond which is key.
8 MAP OUT YOUR GOAL
It’s obviously good to have an intent, but it’s more important to know how you’re going to go about achieving it. If you focus on the ‘how’, the outcome will more likely
take care of itself.