13 Tricks To Deal With Start Line Stress
Starting Line Stress
Ever wondered why on earth you need to go to the toilet so much before a big race or event? And even when you have gone, you get to the start line and what do you know, you feel like you need to go AGAIN! It’s a very primal bodily reaction to anxiety. The body starts trying to get rid of water preparing you for either fight or flight, however these days it’s not the lions and tigers causing such anxiety, it’s just a race
Your level of arousal at the start line can have either a beneficial or detrimental effect on your performance. High arousal provides great benefits for power and gross motor skill activities like most typical endurance event starts. Low arousal can be more beneficial for sports or events that require technical maneuvers, concentration and finesse from the start, like maybe a downhill mountain bike race.
If your arousal is TOO great, you can be wasting energy and are less likely to adhere to your pacing strategy. Too low arousal and you’re likely to have a lethargic and uninspiring race.
For most working class athletes, the biggest concern is very high arousal. Being able to reduce your arousal to optimal levels requires the development of coping skills. The best way to learn and hone these skills is by participating in as many races/events as possible. Think of these as practice races. It’s not important where you finish, it’s about becoming familiar with the sensations of being on a starting line prepared to race or compete.
Try using some of the methods below. The more events you can attend before your ‘BIG’ race the more chance you have at finding which techniques work best for you and most importantly honing them. Hopefully by the time you get to your target race, it feels like ‘just another race’ and not OMFG IM SO EXCITED IM SCARED I FORGOT WHAT IM SUPPOSED TO DO AHHHHH#@$%!%@#%@#!!!!! (I’m sure most can relate to that)
Some helpful arousal-lowering tricks include:
- Physically SLOW DOWN, find some shade, chill out and watch everyone rushing around before the race.
- Slow your breathing down and use your heart rate monitor to see if you can bring your HR down as low as possible.
- Mentally slow down. Stop thinking about bad things that could happen, and start thinking about those times you achieved something.
- In the early stages of your warm up, try to listen to music whilst your body is performing the workout.
- Now’s not the time to question your training. You’ve done what you’ve done and now you just need to trust it. When the race starts, GO!
- Don’t think about winning and don’t think about losing, think about doing the best you can do.
- Race like your still a kid. Enjoy the atmosphere, accept the challenge and as cliche as it is ‘have fun!’
- Don’t worry about your competitors, focus on yourself because that’s what you have the most influence over.
- Try not to think how the race MIGHT pan out, live in the moment.
- Even if you are a nervous wreck, just try and ACT cool. Look around for the most relaxed competitor and just copy how they sit, stand and behave.
- Pretend you are just going out for a run or ride with a bunch of friends.
- Remember that no matter the race outcome it will still be positive result. If you perform well, you will be happy with yourself, if you don’t perform well, you are going to learn something NOT to do next time.
- Remind yourself you are a working class athlete, and if you’re not enjoying what your doing you’re probably in the wrong place.
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