Feeling’s Don’t Dictate Outcomes

This blog is inspired by an Instagram post by Gwen Jorgensen. She captioned a photo of herself (see below) “What are the chances you are going to wake up in the morning of your most important race and feel great? The chances are almost zero. Because of this, a mantra of mine has always been ‘Feeling’s Don’t Dictate Outcomes”.


Photo Credit – Talbot Cox

As a coach, one of the most common causes of an athlete’s anxiety on the day of competition, or even a key training session is – ‘I don’t feel good today – I’m not going to race well!’. As Gwen suggests, how often are you likely to feel 100% perfect on race day? The chances are very small. Variations in how your body responds to the taper, your own hormone levels, fatigue levels and external emotional stress eg. family/work etc. are all going to influence how you feel on race day. Some of this can be controlled in the lead up to the race. Consider the following tips:

  • Avoiding festival race sites where there are lots of people and stalls
  • Avoid doing tourist activities or spending too much time on your feet
  • Follow your taper week training schedule – now’s not the time to make up for inconsistencies or weaknesses in your prep
  • Get as much rest/sleep as possible outside of family/work commitments

Other things may not be as easily controlled. For example, fluctuations in hormone levels (particularly in women) can greatly influence how the body feels on any given day. You may wake up feeling tired, lethargic or even sick for no apparent reason. Tips for managing this on race day:

  • Remind yourself that the hard work (training) is done
  • If it is a training day, remember that this is how you might feel on race day
  • Focus on 1-2 key focus or execution points of each leg/part of the race. Eg. high cadence during later stages of run leg
  • Set small goals within the race and break it down into smaller parts. Eg. each swim buoy during the swim leg.
  • Work toward a positive mindset. What is the worst that can happen on race day? What are the consequences of a bad race? Is this life threatening or career threatening? Unlikely in 99% of cases. Get to the start line and get it done. You might even start to “come good” and feel better as the race continues.

Further Reading:

My Fight Your Fight – Positive Mindset for Endurance Athletes

Characteristics of a Sporting Champion