How Beginner Triathletes Can Reduce Pre-Race Nerves

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  • Matt Cook
  • |
  • May 4, 2017 9:00:00 AM

How-Beginner-Triathletes-Can-Reduce-Pre-Race-Nerves.jpgIt’s normal to be a bit worried before your first triathlon, and even experienced athletes can get anxious before they compete. However, if you’re so worried that you’re starting to feel physically ill and are contemplating skipping the race, you need some tips to calm your pre-race nerves.

With a bit of planning, your nerves will be manageable on race day, and you’ll have a great time at your first triathlon. Here are some tips for beginner triathlons to reduce their pre-race nerves.

Remember Why You’re Racing

If you’re feeling very anxious about your first race, remember why you decided to do a triathlon in the first place. Most people never compete in a triathlon, so you must’ve had a good reason to sign up for one. Keeping that reason in the front of your mind can help you feel less nervous.

Many reasons that people sign up for triathlons have nothing to do with performance, and remembering your reason can help calm you down. If you signed up to have fun, to hang out with your triathlete friends, or to start a new hobby, your race day performance doesn’t really matter. No matter what happens on race day, you can still have a good time. If you signed up for competitive reasons, you can reduce your nerves by setting achievable goals.

Set Achievable Goals

If you’re a naturally competitive person, you may be getting anxious about performing well on race day. For your first triathlon, it’s important to set achievable goals, rather than aiming for the unachievable. While you may be able to get on the podium in the future, it’s not likely to happen on your first try.

To calm your nerves, make sure your goals are attainable. For first-time triathletes, finishing the whole race is a good goal. If you want to set a time goal, try to set one that’s on the slower end since you’re a beginner. For example, if you’re racing in a sprint triathlon, aiming to finish in two hours or less should be attainable.

Get Lots of Practice

As a first-time triathlete, one or more of the triathlon disciplines may be relatively new to you. When you know that some of your disciplines aren’t as strong as the others, you may feel nervous about how you’ll perform during the race. Many triathletes feel nervous about the swimming leg of the race, especially if it’ll take place in open water, but cycling and running can also cause anxiety for some racers.

To ease your pre-race nerves, make sure to get lots of practice in each of the disciplines. If you follow a training plan that’s designed for beginners, you should get enough practice in each discipline. On days when you do brick workouts, take the opportunity to practice your transitions. Getting lots of practice is a great way to gain confidence and reduce your pre-race nerves.

Don’t Expect a Perfect Race

Are you expecting everything to go perfectly on race day? Expecting perfection can contribute to pre-race nerves since the day probably won’t go exactly as you expect. Your first triathlon is a learning experience, and no one is expecting you to do everything perfectly. Plus, there are many factors that you can’t control on race day.

Small things may go wrong on race day, but many of them won’t have much effect on your performance or your enjoyment. You may not get enough sleep the night before the race, but that’s not something you can control, and many other racers will be in the same boat. The weather may be a bit cold or windy, but that’s also out of your control, and all racers will need to race in the same weather.

Topics: First Triathlon


Matt Cook

Matt Cook

Father of 3 and former competitive swimmer, Matt completed his first Ironman 70.3 in 2013 in Muskoka. He has since completed another 70.3 and is planning on doing a full Ironman in 2016 or 2017. Matt took up triathlons for the challenge, to relax and to just to stay in shape so he can enjoy life with his family.

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