When it comes to the final week or week and a half 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 the work (or all the work that you can do) and now it is time to allow yourself to recover properly so that your body can absorb that hard work. This does not mean though that there is nothing you can do to improve your performance. Triathlon preparation means there is a great deal you can do mentally that could make or break your race.
As your race approaches, include these mental swim preparations to take your race to the next level:
- Look back over the season: 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.
- Take a deep breath: I always hear people complaining that they could do with two more weeks of training. Unfortunately, in reality, you do not have those two weeks, so you are going to have to go on and be confident in what you did do. Even if your training did not go exactly as scheduled or they got sick/injured and had to take a few weeks off, realize you are as ready now as you will ever be and worrying or holding onto regrets will only stress and distract you from the task ahead.
- Control the Controllables: Many people worry about the weather, or the conditions of the swim, or whether it will be wet suit legal, or if his/her archrival will show. Fortunately, for you all of these are OUT OF YOUR CONTROL, and therefore no need to worry. What happens, happens and all you can do is deal with how you react to it. Play out 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: To take the stress off and to ease the taper nervousness, prepare your equipment in advance. Create a list of things you will need and lay it all out before packing. Mentally go through your race step by step and make sure you are not forgetting any equipment. Double check your travel arrangements as well.