When it comes to the final weeks before your pinnacle race, there is not much you can do physically to improve fitness or give yourself an edge over the other athletes.
You have done all the physical work that you can do. Now it is time to allow yourself to recover properly so that your body can absorb all that hard work and turn it into performance come race day.
However, while there is not much you can do physically, there is a lot you can do mentally to improve your performance. As your race approaches, include these mental swim preparations to take your race to the next level:
- Reflect: Especially if you are doubting your training. Now is a good time to go through your training logs from the past couple of months and look at all the great work that you have done. In particular think back to those really hard workouts that you pushed yourself in. Maybe it was a swim where you beat your expected time or you went further than you expected. Or a rainy bike ride that you did not want to do but you did anyway and still had a good time. If you are worried about making it through the swim (you are not alone in this), look at the swim workouts and see that you most likely went just as far in practice than you will in the race so you can definitely make the distance. Use these workouts as reminders that if you got through those, you can get through the race with ease.
- Let go: Let’s say though that your training has not gone to plan. Maybe you skipped a few workouts or you got sick or injured mid season. Remind yourself that there is nothing you can do now to change that. You cannot go back into the past and change your workouts, or the time(s) you slept in and missed a swim workout. But what you can change is your mindset come race day. Let those bad and missed workouts go. Focus on what went well and how you are going to adapt your training on race day. Set realistic goals based on what you have been able to do. Then focus on hitting those rather than “wishing” yourself faster.
- Control the Controllables: Many people worry about the weather, or the conditions of the swim, or whether it will be wetsuit legal, or if their archrival will show up. Fortunately, all of these are OUT OF YOUR CONTROL, and therefore no need to worry. What happens, happens. All you can do is deal with how you react to it. Visualize different scenarios (both good and bad) in your head using an “If….then” formula and figure out how you are going to react. For example: “If it is not wetsuit legal, then I will be fine since I strong swimmer and can get through it. I will have a faster T1 because of it…”
- Prepare everything. Ttake the stress off and to ease the taper nervousness by preparing your equipment, nutrition, and race plan in advance. Checklists are super helpful here and will calm your nerves too. Mentally go through your race weekend step by step and make sure you are not forgetting anything.
These four psychological training tips will not make you any fitter on race day. But they CAN make the difference between a great race and a poor one.