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Careful use of Time – can dissolve pre-race nerves

27 October 2016 One Comment


I’ve just come home from Hawaii a couple of days ago. All the jobs I had lined up before I went away were still waiting for me when I came home. I treat my annual trip to Kona as a two week holiday, with one tough day. And it always amazes me how over a year I seem to forget just how tough that race is, it’s brutal.

At home in an average week we get up at 4.15am most mornings, and even on a rest day when we could sleep in we wake before 5am. Our days are filled with all sorts of activities sport, work, building projects, gardening etc. so by 9pm our batteries are running down. It all starts again next morning. I’m not complaining, this is a great life, I love every bit of it.

With such a busy schedule each week slips by so fast that before we realise it, it’s Friday night already. When we were in Hawaii for two weeks it seemed like a month. Our perception of time seemed to slow down. We were there for ten days before the race, it seemed ages away. We trained each day, starting every day with an ocean swim at 7am, and some form of training to keep our bodies tuned up and skills honed while we freshened up.

With my attention turned to time, and how it seemed to slow down for us, I thought back to where we had fourteen weeks to race day. It seemed like so far away. But like every other year, once we get to ten weeks to go, it seems to slip by so quickly. The countdown of weeks seems to be accelerating. The count down of days until we leave for Hawaii seems to be made up of shorter days, they just race past.

I often have to point out to people that they have lots of time to prepare, I’m always reassuring athletes on time related issues. It seems that our emotions distort our concept of time. When we’re looking forward to something, time seems to slow down. When we’re dreading something time seems to accelerate.

Imagine how much easier things could be if we mastered time management. We can’t change the rate at which time advances, but we can step back and observe it thoughtfully. The guys and girls who raced the Ironman with me last week all experienced a wide variety of emotions in the days leading into the race, during race day, and the days after.

None of those emotions changed the rate at which the clock ticked by, yet they caused the athlete lots of stress, anxiety and relief, as the day ticked by.

I have often pointed out to nervous athletes the day before the race that, no matter what we fear, what we think is going to happen, that by this time tomorrow the race will be just about over. When we stand at the start line if we replace the fearful thoughts with the thought that, no matter what happens on the day, it’s all going to be over before this day is over.

I’m often quoted as saying to race the race, one minute at a time, one square meter at a time. To live in the moment. To really live in the moment, to race your race living in the moment, it’s necessary to simply accept the natural passing of time. We all get the same number of seconds in a day, so many of us waste a huge number of them.

To conserve those seconds, we don’t have to rush, we just have to move efficiently. Sometimes to use our time most efficiently, we have to hold back a little and stop ourselves from rushing.

Once the cannon goes off on race morning I often remind myself that before I know it, it’ll all be over. All I have to do is live every minute well, save my seconds, spend them wisely.

I have often lectured guys in my squad on their tardiness, some guys arrive five minutes late for most sessions. Until they address this, they seldom make satisfactory progress. Tardiness is indicative of a bad attitude, a lack of clarity in the athlete’s goals. There’s always a way to get there on time.

When we come more aware of the natural passing of time, we see that there’s no need to become stressed, what’s going to happen is going to happen, and it’s all going to be over soon.

Life runs in cycles

The wheel never stops turning

No matter how dark the night, morning comes

No matter how cold the winter, spring comes

When you feel despair, know that the wheel is turning

Joy will come”



One Comment »

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