You’ve planned and prepared for the Spirit of Belron Challenge and now the day has arrived.

With over 1400 people participating, it’s a great chance to enjoy meeting up with fellow competitors, colleagues and friends. And you’re all there with a common purpose. You are taking part in an event that is making a huge difference to Afrika Tikkun.  

Nerves are normal

It’s quite normal to feel nervous over the next few days as you pack and travel. They might really hit when you’re eating breakfast on Sunday morning. I remember thinking all food tasted like cardboard on a day of a race, but it is food. It’s important to eat early, especially with the possible effect of time differences if you’ve travelled far.

I’ve experienced waking up and just not feeling great on race day, and I work with athletes who say the same. We all react to nerves in different ways and at different times. Some like to talk and others like to be quiet. Recognising this and supporting each other is a great way of working together as a team.

The effect of deep breathing is well proven for relaxing the brain. When nervous, a mindful approach and a good deep breath, creates a slower pace and control which allows you to relax.

Stick to your plan and don’t rush

Remember you have a plan so stick to it. If you’re travelling to and from the hotel by coach, you may be waiting around before, and/or after your race. Take it slowly in the morning. Check your race time so you don’t have to rush or worry about being late when you arrive.

Don’t make any changes to your training routine

The message I keep repeating is not to make any changes in the two weeks before the event. There is nothing that you can do now to train any further. That is positive. Your body is prepared. You won’t lose any fitness between now and the race. A general principle is that you start to lose fitness after two weeks of not training, so that won’t be a problem now.

Supporting your fellow participants

I have always considered triathlon and running very sociable sports, even when competing as an individual. The bike and the run elements of the races go right to the bottom of Dorney Lake, which is at the opposite end to the transition and boat house. It can be lonely on your own at that end of the lake. Be sociable. If you have time, why not get a group of you together and use the land train to take you further down the course so you can cheer on your fellow competitors in the same way that you would like to be cheered on.

Some practical things to consider…

  • Do the final checks against your plan.
  • You may have heard the phrase “control the controllable” used in a sporting context. Your packing list and your processes fit into this category of control.
  • Now is the time plans and lists become your comfort. Before you travel refer to the list that you created and make sure that everything is packed. Don’t allow anything to chance.
  • Contact any team members if you’re doing a relay and make sure you all know which parts you’re doing and what you’re contributing to the team. Do you have a team “chant” or “song”?
  • It is a good time to reread the blogs looking to see if there are any quick reminders and easy tips for racing e.g. wetsuit removal.

The weather forecast – be prepared

The one thing that is always out of control in the UK is the weather, so I generally suggest that you don’t check the weather forecast too frequently. It doesn’t really help…

It is a good idea to think about what you will wear after the event, in all weather conditions. You will get hot competing and it is very easy to get cold when you’re standing around having conversations, drinking coffee and eating cake. Extra clothing layers are a good idea, including gloves and hats. The range of woolly hats you see in triathlon is extensive, even in the summer.

Finally keep smiling. There are cameras everywhere and everyone wants to look good in the highlights video.

It’s been great connecting with you during the last few weeks and I hope that there are some useful tips that carry you through and ensure that you have an enjoyable day. I will be with you in spirit, cheering you on. I’m sure some of you will get the triathlon passion, and next year be able to push yourself even further.

I look forward to hearing feedback about how the race has been for you and all the goals you’ve achieved.


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