A handful of XC Ottawa racers travelled to Ripton, Vermont, for the NENSA Eastern cup opener this past weekend. The races were held at the Rikert Nordic Centre, where there was some fantastic early season skiing!
As I started to prep skis and pack my bags before the trip I found I was becoming increasingly nervous and even irritable. Not a very sensible reaction to the prospect of a weekend of fun and skiing on fabulous trails in a new location! Still, I am sure some other athletes out there can relate to feeling unnecessarily tense before competitions, given the pressure some racers put on themselves.
Tension wonít help your performance, and it certainly wonít make the experience any more enjoyable. So how do you turn this nervous and tense attitude around? I started by talking to my friends about it, since they can bring a different perspective forward. They had some really good advice to share!
Sometimes tension or pressure comes from what other people say to us, and how we interpret it. For this, Katie said she thinks about wearing a shield to deflect othersí comments. That way, you can walk away unphased.
Katie also mentioned that to avoid getting too excited or nervous in advance of competitions, she likes to pretend to be a chill snow boarder. Those guys just look so relaxed and easy-going - and then they pull off some incredible moves! No big deal. But most importantly they are living in the moment and having a really fun time.
Sheila said that she stays cool by simply having a clear warm-up plan and race plan, and then simply follows those plans. Of course, you must be prepared to be flexible with those plans too.
Beyond this, I'd say its a good idea to focus on things to be grateful for. For example, we were out there skiing in great conditions and in good company! You canít get much luckier than that. With this in mind, the more highlights you look for, the more you will find.
Katie also wrote a useful article about stress, which included an exercise for promoting relaxation. Check it out here
Best of luck, and have fun!