Week 39: Race Anxiety for TTT


American’s Triple T is 2 weeks away and i’m officially stressing out. 

Here is the layout for TTT:

Friday: Super Sprint

Saturday AM: Olympic

Saturday Afternoon: Olympic (Bike, Swim, Run)

Sunday: Half Ironman

All 4 races will equal an IRONMAN distance. I mean, what the heck was I thinking? Then when you add on the difficulty of the course it adds another level of worry. The bike leg for each Olympic Distance is shown at 1,800ft of gain. The bike leg for the 70.3 shows 4,500ft of gain. Over 3 days of “racing” we will be climbing over 8,000ft on the bike and close to 1,000ft on the run. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

In all seriousness this is exactly what I wanted to spice up my early part of the season. Too many season’s i’ve mapped the same progression with sprints, olympics, then a 70.3, then an IRONMAN. I got bored. I needed a new challenge. I needed to train harder and different. Triple T has provided me the fear needed to be in good shape in June. It’s the best June shape I have been in since 2010! My plan is working!

I’m currently dealing with race anxiety. One way I am seeing this is through wanting to over train and never take a break from hard training. Who needs rest days? Why would i ride my bike under 70% of FTP? Why would I run slower than 8:00 pace? I tell my athletes that the final 8-12 weeks to your A race is when your injuries will happen. It’s because you start to push the recovery runs and rides too hard. You are trying to eek out just a tad more fitness. Stephen Seiler who is one the best sports scientists explains that over training happens when all of your training starts to become “simply hammering” and this is when you lose all training benefits. You’ve lost the balance because you want to feel accomplished only to underperform on race day. I’ve become good at catching myself and sticking to my recovery efforts and using HR on my recovery days and keeping it below 75% of max HR. I also do all my recovery runs with our dog Cedar which includes many walk breaks, pee breaks, and nature viewing. Its a perfect distraction from all the data points. 

I was talking with an athlete yesterday about how to avoid underperforming when it matters the most and i boiled it down to two areas. 1) Setting too high of expectations for your race 2) Focusing too much on what you want versus what can you do. 

It’s amazing what people imagine or feel they can do versus the physical reality. You can tell everyone your big goals but if you dont have the thresholds or aerobic capacity to hit them then you won’t on race day, and that self realization will creep in. BUT if you go into the race with realistic expectations that you will feel confident. Its like thinking you want to Boston Qualify at 3:00 but have never run a long run at sub 7:00 pace. Or trying to Kona Qualify at your first Ironman. Plus, if your motivation for racing is Boston or Kona than you’re already setting yourself up for disappointment. Your race motivation should be on personal performance, achieving your potential, not BQ or KQ.

How am I getting through these next couple weeks? Simple. TrainingPeaks and visualization. I will look over my previous workouts and see what i’ve done in the past 3-4 months in swim, bike, and run. Then go into the % i think i can sustain off of those. If i race an Olympic at 90-95% of FTP, should I race TTT at 80-85%? I will also visualize the process of my swim stroke, my nutrition execution, transitions. I’m not trying to figure out silly swim, bike, or run times. They don’t matter. Who cares. That’s not the point. The point is execution not end result. Even typing this out helps me relax more than where I was before I started this!