Staying Calm When You’re Passed by Other Racers

How to Stay Composed

How to Stay Composed When Passed in a Triathlon

Does this scenario sound familiar…

Sometimes, when other racers pass me during a triathlon, it messes with my head and I start feeling like everyone will pass me.

How can I maintain my cool when I am passed by other racers?

This is a common concern for many triathletes…

“Being caught” or “being passed” during a race can have a profound negative and emotional impact on you. Especially if you feel you are maintaining a good pace and have trained hard.

Being in this situation can make you feel panicky and bring about many doubts:

  • “Did I do enough in training?”
  • “Am I off my pace?
  • “Do I need to pick it up?
  • “Should I try to keep up with the other racers?”
  • “Did I choose the right race strategy?”

Questioning your pace and race strategy can throw off your entire race but it really depends where you are in the race.

If it is early in the race, abandoning your race strategy may be detrimental.

Making a move too early can put too much pressure on you, create a high level of anxiety and cause you to rifle through your energy stores too quickly.

Now, if you get passed late in the race, mentally digging in, picking up the pace and moving out of your comfort zone may be the best option.

No matter the situation, being passed during a race requires the use positive, strong and effective mental strategies.

Respond well to being passed in a race:

  • Maintain your composure – Getting panicky will only detract from your race.
  • Stay relaxed and focused – You need to be able to focus on your race strategy and race your race.
  • Be confident in your abilities – Remind yourself that you worked to reach this level. It didn’t happen accidentally.
  • Trust your training – You have done the hard work. Remind yourself of the hours you logged in training and all the technique week you have done… Now it’s time to trust what you have done and allow your hard work pay off.
  • Stick to the game plan – You must have the mental fortitude to stick to your race plan.
  • Be accepting – Some races you may not have “it” whether due to training, injuries or extenuating circumstances. Don’t get down on yourself. There will be another race in the future.

Former triathlete and one of Great Britain’s top competitors, Andy Blow, has a great perspective on how to mentally manage being passed during a triathlon.

BLOW: “Generally the best way to deal with being passed early on in an event (if you feel like you’re already going at your optimal pace) is to simply relax and let the person go. If it helps, you can tell yourself that they’re going way too hard and that you’ll see them later on – and this is often true. If, however, you’re racing for position or qualification spot, and you get passed by a rival late on in the race, that is the point where you absolutely have to throw caution to the wind and go with them.”

By learning some effective mental tools, you will be ready to handle mental and physical challenges that pop up during your races.

Tips for Maintaining Composure when Passed in a Triathlon:

Learn one “relaxing” strategy (focusing on your breathing) and one “pick up the pace” strategy (cue phrase such as “switch gears”).

Recreate scenarios in training where you can practice these strategies.

When you practice these strategies over and over, these strategies will trigger a more effective response when you are passed by another racer.

Good news: We’re releasing “Triathlete Confidence” workbook program in two weeks. I’ll have more information to share next week.

If you haven’t done so yet, we’d appreciate if you tell us about the mental game challenges you or your triathletes face and how we can help you improve your mental game in triathlons. This survey will give us the input we need to bring you the most relevant and practical information about how to improve your mental toughness in triathlons.

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