Preparing for the mental and physical intensity of a triathlon is no easy feat. And while training and discipline are crucial during the months leading up to a race, there are a few things that even the most well-trained athlete can overlook. To help keep you calm and focused at your next big event, here are two major hacks to remove nervous anxiety and improve your success during a triathlon.
Pack Extra Equipment
One of the most unnerving things that can happen to a triathlete is to show up at a race and find that you’ve forgotten an essential piece of equipment. While it’s rare that you’ll forget most things, a missing pair of goggles or shoelaces can throw your mind instantly out of focus.
Most experienced triathletes will pack one of everything, but it’s important to consider that something could break or malfunction during an event. If you happened to watch the 2016 Olympic games, you might have witnessed the famous swimmer Michael Phelps scrambling to the starting blocks with a ripped swim cap in his hands. Thankfully a fellow teammate gave him a spare, and he was able to compete in the race.
Instead of stressing out and melting down when a piece of equipment goes missing or is damaged, add a duplicate to each item in your pre-race equipment checklist. Pack a second pair of anything essential that could break or malfunction such as goggles, shoes, or shoelaces. You’ll have a better peace of mind on the day of a race and will be glad you packed extra equipment if something does go wrong.
Feed Your Nerves
Race-day jitters can be triggered by numerous things beyond your control, such as weather or long delays, which can cause mental stress and nausea that can severely affect your performance. And while feeling “keyed up” for a big race is a normal sensation, being overly nervous to the point of anxiousness is not going to help you during a race. To ease up this unexpected tension before the starting gun is fired, it’s important to feed your body the right kind of fuel on race day.
The most important meal to eat before a triathlon is breakfast. Include bananas, blueberries, or avocados into a smoothie or another breakfast dish, as they contain large amounts of mind-calming nutrients. Healthy sources of fat help your body to absorb necessary vitamins, so be sure to add that to your breakfast as well. When you feed your nervous system properly ahead of time, you are less likely to experience severe nerves on your race day.
Training for a triathlon can be a long and grueling process, and having a healthy diet can play an integral role in the preparation. For your body to function at its very best, you need to be giving it the right kind of fuel. A lot of people turn to sports drinks or protein bars when training for a big event, but these are often loaded with processed sugars and unnatural ingredients that won’t help your body to sustain energy. Instead, consider a few of the wholesome foods below to eat when training for your next triathlon.
The obsession that many athletes have with eating bananas before a big race isn’t a myth. Bananas pack in a ton of essential nutrients that can help you get through your training and contain significant amounts of Potassium, which is an essential mineral for preventing cramps, muscle movement, and the regulation of the body’s water content. Their carbohydrate and natural sugar structure also make them great energy boosters that won’t cause you to crash after. Plus, their high magnesium content can also help to relax overstressed muscles. In fact, a 2012 study found bananas to be as effective as Gatorade in providing cyclists support during prolonged exercise.
With the amount of strain placed on your muscles during training, it’s wise to up your protein intake. Salmon is one of the best sources of protein for athletes, as a 5oz serving contains a whopping 36 grams of protein. And the benefits of salmon go beyond protein, as it’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are these acids good for your heart, but they also contain anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce muscle soreness and pain caused by inflammation. Since you’ll most likely experience muscle pain throughout your training, adding salmon to your diet is a good idea.
Oats should be your go-to breakfast dish when training for a triathlon, and oatmeal contains soluble fibers that will help keep you full, aid your digestion, and remove cholesterol from your blood stream. It’s also full of B vitamins that provide your body with an ample source of energy, a healthy metabolism, and aid in muscle function. Oatmeal even has a decent amount of protein in it that will help keep your muscles in peak performance mode.
If you don’t have enough time to cook and eat salmon consistently, chia seeds are an excellent alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids. A small handful of these will provide your body with three times the number of antioxidants as blueberries, as well as a significant amount of protein, calcium, and iron. A study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed that drinking a combination of half chia seeds and half Gatorade is just as effective in performance as drinking 100% Gatorade, which is a great option for anyone watching their daily sugar intake.