Weeks and months of training hard, testing a nutrition strategy, planning the details of what goes in the transition bag and deciding what’s left behind. All in the name of having a great — perhaps a perfect — race.
But as I often tell athletes I coach, perfection is not an idealistic, let alone an optimal way to prepare for your race.
The potential for adversity is always lurking around you, ready to strike at any moment. The unpredictability can catch the best off guard. Sudden cramp. Flat tire. Torrential wind gusts. Another flat tire!
Regardless of what mother nature, the race director, bad karma or bad curry the night before does to you, your success (or perhaps survival) always depends on what happens next. Or more specifically, what you do and you think and you decide and how you behave next.
While you can’t always predict what’s going to happen your race preparation must always “expect the unexpected”.
The number one rule for dealing with adversity in your triathlon race is to prepare for it in advance.
Know how you should respond, what your options are, and how to quickly get back on track to having a great race.
The reason this is so important is that when we are caught off guard, in the heat of the battle, it’s so easy to let our emotions or fears get the best of us which nearly always leads to making a flawed decision. Often making the situation worse.
This is one of the things that separates the elites from the under performers. Beyond physical skills, they do everything possible to plan in advance.
The great Ironman legend Dave Scott says, “I always thought, what if this happened, how would I deal with it? If I got my goggles knocked off, got kicked in the stomach, if I got a bad time, what would I do? What if I get a flat tire, how do I deal with it? I eliminated all the unknowns by walking through them ahead of time.”
Here are three simple questions to help guide you through a smart process of planning in advance and give yourself the best possibility of a quick recovery.
For each question, write down your answer in detail for all of these race planning components:
- Pre-race – 24-48 hours prior
- Race countdown – 60mins – 1min prior
- Fuel (food and hydration throughout race)
Question 1: What could go wrong?
You don’t have to imagine full Armageddon, but be honest about the things that are not that uncommon to occur during the race physically within you, technically with your equipment, mentally and emotionally in your inner game.
Question 2: How can I best respond in the moment to minimize any loss and get back on track?
Imagine the things from question 1 happening. If you were strong, smart and clear, what would you do? What would you think? Where would you focus?
Question 3: What can I do now to minimize the chances of this happening?
This is the step that most triathletes miss but can make all the difference. Can you pack extra nutrition in case you drop some on the bike? Do you have the basics such as a pump or CO2 cartridges and tools to quickly change a flat? Have you practiced changing a flat? Can you practice putting goggles on in deep water?
With a little bit of time spent, and a little bit of thinking in advance, you’ll be surprised how much you can build your confidence to handle anything and not let these distractions derail you from having your best performance.
To get a step-by-step guide for preparing for adversity, plus over 30 additional key strategies for preparing for your triathlon race, download your copy of Race Faster NOW! today.
Do you have a specific question related to race day preparation? Leave a comment below…I’d love to help you achieve your best when it matters most.