Last weekend, one of the triathletes I work with did the Ironbourne Triathlon.

It’s an Iron distance event:

3.8km Swim, 180km bike and a marathon to finish.

(He finished in that incredible heat too and nipped under that 14 hour mark).

And numerous more that I coach did the Swashbuckler Triathlon in the New Forest.

It was a big weekend for Tri and it was amazing to be able to go and watch.

But a number of conversations I’d had in the week leading into it surrounded nerves.

Those butterflies in your stomach

The shivers and maybe clammy skin when you think about what’s coming.

Maybe the shortened breathing.

These are actually GOOD things.

But we perceive them as bad as we don’t think everyone experiences them in a similar way.

You might watch a sports person at the top of their game and think they have everything under control.

But chances are, this is just their outer shell not showing what’s going on inside.

I guarantee they get the same feelings you do.

They just hide it well with experience.

Now you might be thinking, why does it flare up,

surely this is a flaw in us humans?

You might have heard it called the “fight or flight” and it comes from us getting ready for action.

When faced with having to run from a threat, our body would take blood flow from certain areas and direct it to the muscles we think we are going to need.

If you are running for your life (or lining up at a sports event),

you aren’t really going to need your digestive system working to 100% (hence the butterflies in your stomach).

Less blood is pumped to our extremities and might leave us feeling chilled.

Your heart rate will probably rise as the body prepares itself for action.

And you might find yourself needing to take yet another visit to the porta-loo to make yourself as light as possible…

These at a low level are totally fine and “normal”…

(As “normal” as it can be setting a 3am alarm clock to start your triathlon at 6am is…)

Acknowledging them is a great start to getting them under control

But if they are taking over your experience, perhaps ruining the result on the day, then I’d highly recommend seeking advice further on the subject.

(It’s not my field of expertise, but there are plenty out there who can help)

My job is to just help you realise that nerves and any of the signs above are good to experience.

They mean you care.

They mean your body is excited and getting ready.

In omnia paratus

Coach Ant

P.S. One major way I help people deal with nerves is making sure they have previous experiences to draw upon.

For example, with a marathon, ensuring they’ve done a big preparatory run in the 4-6 weeks beforehand that is at race pace. It helps runners feel mentally ready and know they’ve done the training.