The season is heating up. Things are really starting to happen. A lot of training has been done in the off season and in April/May most of us will see our first triathlon. The last couple days I have felt a little uneasy about the season starting. Why would this be?
Outcome Oriented Thoughts.
I nailed it. As triathletes many things can happen in the off season. Some of us put in insane amounts of work, some of us fall off the wagon. Some work on their weaknesses, some on their strengths. No matter how you spend your off season, when that first triathlon comes around you naturally wonder where you are at. You secretly hope that the off season has given you the strength to far surpass your best of the year before. If you have been sinking instead of swimming in your off season you hope that some of your fitness has hung on. Either way it's almost impossible to keep from thinking of your first race as a litmus test for your entire off season work (or lack thereof).
You have to get over it. This kind of thinking is an obvious form of "Outcome Oriented" thoughts, in other words you (and me) are thinking about the outcome of the race before you have even stepped on the starting line. Thinking about race outcomes when you don't really have any control over them just yields panic, unease, sleepless nights and stress.
The first race of the year is all about having fun, remembering why you love the sport of triathlon, and getting out the cobwebs. It is not a litmus test for anything. Most all of us will train straight through our first race, and if you are racing in April/May the probability that you have any speed work under your belt is slim to none.
But, we can't help it, we still think the thoughts.
It doesn't have to be that way. I will be in Florida in one weeks time and I am already anticipating those thoughts of "I have a ton to prove" and I am talking myself through them. I have nothing to prove. I only need to remind myself how much I love the action of completing a triathlon. To remember the pleasure I find in the pain and the competition; that's the only goal. Race Execution, now that's something I got really good at last year, but need to re-remember.
This first race is not the culmination of all the off season weeks, it's the starting point. Your Number 1, A race of the season, now that's the culmination of your off season and your on season.
This weekend I am going to focus on positive mental thoughts surrounding my first triathlon. I am going to talk myself into having fun, staying calm and happy, enjoying the experience, and feeling blessed that all my body parts move and function with precision (a luxury I tend to take for granted that many others don't have).
When in doubt, take a deep breath.
Homework: If your first triathlon is coming up start thinking about those little voices that are talking to you. What are they saying? Are they worried about Performance OUTCOME? Are they worried about proving yourself, or showing your in better shape than you are. Start enacting some techniques to turn those thoughts into warm fuzzy feelings. Convince yourself that you CAN NOT be outcome focused, you must be process focused, and positive. Good Luck!
It doesn’t get any easier; you just get faster. - Greg Lemond