I like to think of myself as a well-rounded person that handles stress and anxiety well. I have been through more challenges than most people see in an entire lifetime, however; there is one thing that takes me for a ride with anxiety... the week before a race.
I know sounds so little and petty, but oh boy is it not!! It’s scary. All the what if’s?? What if I don’t wake up in time for the race? What if I put in all this training and it doesn’t show up on race day? What if I don’t do what I know I am capable of doing? And on and on and on! It got to the point I didn’t want anyone to know I was racing and I surely didn’t want my family there because I didn’t want any of these "what-ifs" to come true.
I would over think racing and it started to take the fun out of it. I started triathlons to help me be a better mom. I had four kids in four years and needed something where I could work on me and help clear my head. Now I was letting it make me crazy!
I knew it was something I had to gain control of so I reached out to many triathlete friends. They all said they had the same thing! Yahoooo! I am not crazy after all! I started trying everything everyone recommended. Meditation, chamomile tea, lavender and eating omega-3s. You name it, I tried it! Nothing seemed to help. I was feeling hopeless until a friend asked me a very deep question...
Why do you race? Why do you love it? I came up with a thousand reasons and she said no. Really think about it. What do you race with when your muscles are tired and your mind is saying give up? At that moment, I realized I race with my heart. The only thing I have left when everything else has given up.
Once I realized this, it was almost like the anxiety had been lifted. I started telling myself I have heart and that’s all I need when everything else fails. If the alarm doesn’t go off, who cares? I have heart and I will still go out and do the distance. If my training doesn’t show at race day, it doesn’t matter because I have heart.
My next race was quickly approaching and I kept reminding myself, you have heart. I felt great on race morning and my anxiety was low. The gun went off and so did I. Then, halfway through the swim, after getting pushed under and slapped a couple times, that anxiety started to kick in.
I stopped and reminded myself what I have that so many haven't realized yet. I HAVE HEART! Bye, anxiety. I was off again. I swam, bike and ran myself into 3rd AG.
This was my first race back since having a hysterectomy.
This anxiety is a thing of the past. I still get pre-race jitters but are quick to calm once I remind myself what I have!
What are some of your strategies to tackle pre-race anxiety? Share with us in the comments below!
Written by Alesha Hacker, Siren Luminary
Follow Alesha on Instagram! @runtrimommaof4