7 day countdown with Zig Zag Alive
The Brownlees’ book opens with Alistair and Jonny each describing how they felt the morning of their – now legendary – Olympic race. Despite all the pressure, all the hype and expectations, they both relay the same simple emotion: excitement!
How brilliant to go into a race feeling nothing but excitement about what lies ahead. If next Sunday’s Eastbourne triathlon is your very first, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by a whole mix of very different emotions: excitement for sure but also trepidation, fear of the unknown, self-doubts about how prepared you really are. And even if you are a seasoned triathlete you’ll probably be feeling some of the same uneasy anticipation: have I trained enough? have I rested enough? and what’s that big hill really like? As this is the very first Eastbourne Tri there’s an element of the unknown for everyone.
So here are a few brief tips and suggestions to help you in this last week, building on the idea from the last blog post about taking yourself to the event, rather than letting it happen to you.
First, remind yourself why we do this wonderful sport. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the detail and pre-race nerves that we forget. If you’re not enjoying it, then stop. Hold back and readjust your settings to ‘enjoy’ mode.
As I suggested in the last post, spend a little time practising the fine art of purposive, positive imagination – how great its going to feel in whatever excites you most, such as just being part of a new event in a stunning location; running through to the finish line; or bragging to your friends in your new, well earned t-shirt.
If you are feeling really nervous and anxious, take out a little time to identify and start breaking down what it is that is making you feel that way. Almost certainly there are ways of dealing with much of what gets to us and leaves us feeling overwhelmed.
So for example, it may be if this is your first race in the open water, rather than fearing the whole thing, is it the thought of being knocked around by others, knowing its going to be cold but not how cold or doubts about the distance? So use this week to think through your strategy for whatever it is: maybe to position yourself toward the back where you won’t be jostled; prepare yourself for the cold by promising yourself to get in early, gradually getting used to the temperature and always ensuring your breath is under control; break the distance down into sections, such as from the start to the first buoy, then the next and so on; tell yourself you are just going to focus on getting your breathing under control for the first part of the swim and get into your rhythm. Whatever your fear, break it down and have a plan to meet it.
In terms of training this week, as mentioned in the last post its all about keeping it light – lots of stretching and flexibility, shorter and lighter swims than you’ve been doing, focusing all on the feel in the water; easy spinning on the bike; and controlled, no-tension striding.
The next and final post will inevitably all be about the practical things to pack and have to hand. Needless to say, this week is the last chance to try out those flash new goggles, test the wet suit and condition of the bike before the race. We may include some tips for dealing with the cold water – or if you post a reply here and say what’s on your mind I’ll have a go at giving some last minute advice.
And above all, be a Brownlee and be excited.
(This post is dedicated to Grace, Fiona and Scott who are going to be awesome)