“While this is tough, I am a whole lot tougher.” James Loehr

How fast you go out at the beginning of a race is a personal decision. Some athletes end up giving away that control without even realizing what they’re doing. Quickly you are caught up in the energy of those around you. When you finally realize you started out too fast in the race, valuable energy has been burned. Then more energy is used to regain focus, returning to your race plan.

Who influences you most when racing? Being influenced by other athlete’s pace is a poor strategy when racing. Managing the high energy during triathlons, of other racers plus your own adrenaline levels, drains energy needed for your race. Creating a tight race plan, prepared to deal with the onslaught of energy is all part of the mental game.

Novice, along with seasoned elite athletes, face the problem of going out too fast. Even experienced athletes periodically must return to basics. Lack of experience, preparation and commitment are some contributors.

Jean’s passion is competing in triathlons. The first race of each season she is a bundle of nerves before the start. With the tension building prior to the start, she begins her swim with explosive energy. The frenzy of a mass open water swim start, trying to avoid getting bumped, hit with arms and kicked, adds to her nerves. The intensity of the swim is more like a water fight for Jean. By the middle of her second leg, she is suffering from going out too fast.

Some reasons athletes go out too fast:

  • Pack instinct is to stay together
  • Sensitivity to the energy around you
  • Externally directed. Tend to please others
  • Too much adrenaline and nervous energy

Getting caught up in the mayhem around you at the start of the race is a sure sign that your mindset is not prepared for the race. Pacing yourself with the crowd around you, instead of running your own race, is a weak strategy. Social proof theory reveals people will follow other’s when they’re not sure about what to do.

Following the crowd is an emotional decision. Somehow fear influenced your actions so you ditched your plan. You’ll pay the price later in the race when you needed that extra energy to finish. A strong body, trained mindset and high confidence sets the foundation for high performance.

Challenge: How are you influenced by the other athletes in the race? With some much energy anticipating the start, it is easy to become distracted. Second guessing your strategy is a confidence issue. What would it take for you to believe that your race plan strategy for the start is the best one for you to use right now. Stick with what you’ve trained to do. Once the race is over then review what worked and make changes accordingly.