Think through your “what if scenarios”.
This means thinking through the (most likely) things that could go wrong on the day and deciding your actions now. Your list could include ‘what if I drop one of my drink bottles as I am cycling’. The answer will depend on you and there is no right or wrong answer. In this example one athlete may decide to ride on to the next feed station while another may decide to stop (if safe to do so) and retrieve the bottle. The point is that you have thought it through beforehand and on race day you won’t spend 5 mins debating with yourself what to do – you know your decision and you take that action.
Practising your mental strategies in training.
It is a long day and most athletes do go through a tough patch when they wonder if they will finish (although note that this can be due to a poor fuelling strategy). You can develop your own strategies for getting through them. Some athletes count (eg, I am going to count to 100 or take 100 steps and then see how I feel) or focus on a particular skill (cycling at a specific cadence), while others think about those who have been important in their training. Decide what might work for you and practise the strategy now during your long rides and runs. Again, what is important is that you don’t waste 10 mins on race day feeling like you cannot take another step – rather you immediately implement your chosen strategy and move through your tough patch and out the other side.
Visualise your race from start line to the finish line.
This means creating a mental image of how you want to feel and what you want to do during the race. Where will you start the swim? Or what do you want your first few strokes be like? And so on. Mentally rehearsing a particular technique or performance increases the chances of that performance occurring. If you have pictured yourself many times lifting up through your core on the run (and you have practised this physically) then you are increasing the opportunity of this happening on the day.
As with everything, practising is the key. You still have time to think about these issues and be mentally ready!