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Overcoming the Fear of Completing it All in 3. One Day!

How often do we see a beginner decide that they want to complete a triathlon, sign up, then start to doubt themselves? How am I going to swim, bike and run that far all in one day? Can I do it? Will it be painful? Will I survive the swim? This type of anxiety is common and often stems from the FEAR of the unknown. Training for a triathlon is not easy. Racing can be much more intimidating, even for the most experienced triathlete. For the beginner, the fear of whether they can do it can often become overwhelming. Our job as coaches should be to help our athletes limit or lessen the FEAR so they can have positive and successful experiences.

Here are some techniques I have used with my athletes over the years to help reduce or eliminate the fear of being able to finish:

1. EDUCATE YOUR ATHLETES ON HOW YOUR PROGRAM WORKS. Explain that by breaking down the training into bite-size pieces and building upon it, they will be able to tackle the daunting task of open water swimming, biking and then running on race day (progression). Knowledge is very powerful. Athletes need to know that patience is KEY in building towards a race and each workout has a purpose. If they understand where they are going and why, it should help them reduce some of the anxiety or fear.

2. EMPHASIZE PROPER TECHNIQUE. We all know the reasons why proper technique is important. It will help our athletes get to the finish line with less effort, not to mention help with injury protection. But it also can come in handy to calm fears associated with not being able to do the distance or workout. Rather than just giving your athletes skill work in the beginning of the workouts or as a workout itself, intersperse it within the bulk of big volume days. It takes their mind off the enormity of the task and breaks up the distance. Athletes can also use this technique during races when they start to fatigue. It not only takes their mind off the fatigue but sometimes helps the athlete go faster. An excellent way to determine what an athlete needs to work on is to video tape them, review it and then show them the drills they need to perfect their form. Any camera that takes video will do, and a picture is truly worth more than 1,000 words.

3. INCORPORATE TRIATHLON-SPECIFIC TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES. Triathlon is not just three separate sports, but really one sport tied together! Make sure you incorporate plenty of tri-specific skills so athletes get a feel for what to expect in a race.

By Racheal Wood USAT Level II, USA Cycling Level II

• sWiMMinG in oPen Water has a huge FEAR FACTOR in of itself. If you can remove this fear, the task of completing the bike and run become less daunting. The goal is to get the athletes out of the water without being totally exhausted and feeling ready to bike. in my very first triathlon training group, I took my athletes out for an ocean swim only to quickly realize they were not ready. Several of them panicked and some freaked out about getting through the swim still being able to bike and run. So I changed gears and had the group hit the pool. We worked on our swimming (they needed it) but also practiced several open water skills (head up, sighting, drafting techniques, dolphin, closed eyes, practice swimming without your goggles in case they get knocked off, etc). These skills are very important for open water swim success and by doing them in a controlled pool setting; athletes can handle putting them into practice when they hit the open water.

When we returned to the ocean, I opted to keep it short, simple and fun. One of the best ways to reduce fear in athletes to the OWS is to allow them to play in the water pretending like they are a kid. It reminds them of being carefree and the anxiety subsides. Giving them something familiar to do (like a drill, counting strokes

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