This morning Noosa Tri Club had our annual Australia Day sprint distance triathlon. It proves to be one of the most popular event on the calendar, perhaps because of the beautiful weather, the school holidays coming to an end or the timing- right in the middle of Aussie Tri season. Whatever the reason it is always lots of fun, all ages and abilities take part in the 750m swim, 20km ride and 4km run. Followed by a sausage sizzle afterwards (that’s a barbecue for my non-Australian readers) it’s a social event and family affair.
As I was gathering my gear last night (racking my brains, what do I need to pack again?) I started to feel nervous out of the blue. I had second thoughts about competing and toyed with the idea of being the designated photographer instead of racing. Just to make it clear this event wasn’t even on my training program, I actually had a scheduled rest day but I wanted to do it. It’s been two months since I raced last and I wanted to dust off the cobwebs, have a hit out and support our tri club with my friends. Where were these nerves coming from? And how do I make them go away?
Then it struck me, how many other people feel the same way before their races? Whether it be their first or thirty first I’m sure the attack of the nerves must hit other people too. One of my good friends is not so comfortable swimming in the Noosa canals (on account of bull sharks), my other friend is slowly overcoming her fear of judgement as she turns up to parkrun each weekend, and another is practising swimming on her own until she is ‘good enough’ to come to squad. Yet another friend has just signed up for her first 70.3 (1.8k swim, 90k cycle and 21k run) and is a bundle of nerves about the whole situation. Everyone has their own insecurities or causes for nerves and as I’m usually quite a confident person I may have been guilty of brushing off other people’s nervousness unintentionally in the past.
So what can we do to handle the nerves? The greatest advice anyone ever told me was not to worry about what other people think, usually they are too busy worrying about themselves to even notice what you are doing. In this day and age they are probably too busy on their smart phones to notice you anyway!
But on a serious note, a) nerves aren’t all bad and b) please don’t be so nervous, things aren’t as bad as they may seem. I over think things way too much but here’s my thought process when I’m trying to talk myself into something. I usually think to myself ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ And if that isn’t enough to settle my nerves I think ‘Is it going to matter in 5 days, 5 weeks, how about 5 years?’
In the case of my friend who is afraid of bull sharks this thought process might not actually help. We were joking before the race that if worst case scenario happened she did not want her tombstone to read ‘Eaten by a shark, but doing something she loved.’ But for most other situations it really helps me.
Case 1: Nervous for a club race, possibly because I haven’t raced in ages, my training has just been ‘ticking things over’ since Ironman Malaysia, it would hurt and I would be slow.
What’s the worst that could happen? I am slow and it does hurt… Boohoo looks like you’re racing Chloe!
Case 2: Friend is self conscious and nervous people will judge her based on appearance at running. What’s the worst that could happen? People do judge her? It’s very unlikely they will, but even if they do who cares. Only people who are insecure in themselves say nasty things about others. Most people actually admire the ones who are out there giving it a go, and if they knew your beautiful soul or admirable story they would no doubt give you a high 5 as you ran past.
Case 3: Friend who isn’t a very good swimmer, too nervous to attend squad so has practicing on her own until she’s ‘good enough’. (Ive actually been there, done that) I know how it feels. But what’s the worst that can happen if you turn up to squad? You go in the slow lane at the end? You can leave halfway through the session if you really hate it. But chances are you will be encouraged by the other swimmers in your lane and learn from the coach and keep going, and maybe even learn to love swimming.
Case 4: You have signed up for a race that’s possibly bigger/longer than you can handle. (I’ve also been there!) For me this was definitely one that needed a ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ conversation with myself. Well worst case scenario you don’t finish, or get pulled off the bike course for not making cut off times, or you walk the run, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Even coming dead last trumps DNF (did not finish) which trumps DNS (did not start).
The point of my post is that we all have nerves. They are actually healthy, if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough. But next time you get a little nervous maybe just think about what’s the worst that could happen? Chances are the worst case scenario really isn’t that bad, and probably wont happen. I would love to hear your feedback on how it goes for you.
Until next time, don’t be afraid to close your eyes and dream your dream. Don’t be nervous to open your eyes and turn those dreams into realities.
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