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Kona Week: Combat Negative Pre-Race Thoughts

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Oct 9, 2013
Photo: Kurt Hoy


Tricks to re-frame your thinking so you go into the world championship with a strong mental focus.

For tips on how to cope with potential race-week kinks, we turned to psychiatrist, coach and soon-to-be five-time Kona finisher Mimi Winsberg for advice.

Negative thought: Pre-race week didn’t go as planned—the time zone change means you barely slept, you didn’t get your staple night-before meal and you’re fighting a calf twinge. You head into the race feeling set back and discouraged.

Combat it: “If you think about a lot of the good workouts you’ve banked, or even the really good races you’ve had, they weren’t always preceded by perfect circumstances either,” Winsberg says. “You try to control the factors you can control, and it is certainly helpful to think through and carefully plan the week, but ultimately a good race is about the months of preparation leading up to the race, and not the details of race week.”

“Tell yourself there’s room for error.  Once you’ve raced a lot you  realize that something always goes wrong during race week—and it’s sort of interesting to see what goes wrong. You have to roll with it and be ready for anything.  Working through those experiences builds confidence,” she says.

If you don’t already, make checklists of things you want to do race week, Winsberg advises. Pencil in downtime or schedule a massage, and make a list of what should go in your bags—anything to keep your mind calm.

RELATED: Sports Psychology Tips For Triathletes

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FILED UNDER: Ironman / Training TAGS:

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a senior editor at Triathlete magazine, a four-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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