There is so much being written and said about mental preparation when it comes to racing, and for good reason. The mind and body connection is so strong and, if you’re not using it to your advantage on race day, you’re leaving out a key element in achieving your goals. Not training your mind is like leaving out speed work. It’s that important.

I want to share with you a simple technique my coach taught me, that has helped enormously when it comes to race day. I wrote about it for USATriathlon Magazine because I think everyone can use it to their advantage.


Since we’re only days away from the New York City marathon, I know there are lots of runners out there who are searching for just this kind of last minute tip. And, even if you’re done with racing this season, you can add this to your tool kit for next season.

[Tweet “The simple #mental #preparation technique you can use for #race day!”]

The Problem

If you’re anything like me, your mind can run wild with “what ifs” in the weeks and days leading up to a race:

What if the weather is horrible?

What if I don’t fuel properly?

What if I feel sluggish right from the start?

What if I hit the wall?

And the list can go on and on and on.


The Solution

There is very little we can control when it comes to race day. You prepare as much as you possibly can and then, it all comes down to that one day. In a lot of ways this seems unfair, unless you take control with your mind.

The technique my coach taught me is this:

  1. Sit down with an actual pen and paper.
  2. Write down every single worry or way the race could go wrong.
  3. Write a solution (or several) to each.

My list usually looks something like this:

What if my goggles get knocked off in the swim? Practice swimming with the goggle strap under your swim cap or wear two pair of goggles. But seriously, this has never happened so stop worrying about it.

What if I get a flat tire? Change it. You know how to do it and, let’s face it, you’re more worried about the time it will take to change it than the actual flat. There’s nothing you can do about it but change it as quickly as possible and do your best to finish fast.

Chuck Norris doesn't need a list.

Chuck Norris doesn’t need a list.

What if I get a blister on the run (from running without socks)? Make sure to add some glide to the backs of your running shoes in the transition area. If you forget, just deal with the pain. You’ve done it before and you can do it again.

What if the weather is horrible? Everyone has to deal with the same conditions. Think about the adjustments you have to make and then get out there and do your best. You have raced in horrible weather many times before and come out on top. This is what you chose to do for fun so…

Obviously the list can go on for as many fears or unknowns you can think of. I usually try to keep it to the things I’m most concerned about and, I can tell you it works! Most of my fears never come to fruition but it only helps to have a  mental plan.

Why It Works

A lot of athletes, myself included, practice visualization. Visualization works on so many levels but, it’s only focusing your mind on everything going exactly to plan. Using this technique you are not allowing your mind to create any other outcome than perfection, which is great, until it isn’t.

The technique my coach taught me and, the one I used for the last several races of my triathlon season, works because it takes care of all the unknowns as well what your mind and body have already perfected. It completes the circle. It calms your fears. It works.

It wasn't pretty but it wasn't a DNF.

Throwback to 2015 with my NYC Marathon finishers medal. I’m not smiling because I PRd but because I just ran 26.2 miles!

Good luck to everyone racing NYC this weekend! Remember that there will most certainly be highs and lows but, you have trained your body and mind to handle the distance and you will accomplish your goal!

[Tweet “#NYCMarathon #runners read this before #race day! #mentalpreparation”]


Do you use mental preparation techniques?

Will you try this? Why or why not?

Running NYC this weekend?