I know how essential it is to relax whilst sprinting, in order to allow the muscles to fire efficiently, and it’s a principle I don’t eem to have much trouble putting into practice during training. However, come competition time, I just tighten up. It’s really beginning to annoy me, because it’s causing me to fall well short of my potential. What can I do to help myself stary relaxed during competition? What should I be thinking about? Any help would be really apprecaited. thanks.

This is why Charlie emphasizes finding the correct level of competition. If you get in over your head, its pretty much impossible to stay relaxed.

I really don’t think that’s the issue. I can win a race and run tight. My coach always tells me I look technically very different in competition than I do in training. It’s fundamentally based on the fact that I tighten up in a competition.

Is it a confidence issue? If so, always remember that you have prepared for your event through proper training and the race is just a way to “show off” your hard work. I think that the athletes that believe in what they are doing daily at practice have the least apprehension at meets. Also, do you have any relaxation methods currently? Listening to calming music, meditation, etc? This can help throughout your training. Just some thoughts.

True Kyle.
I am not suggesting to become really relaxed before a competition, just if the athlete is carrying nervous energy throughout each day. A certian heightened level of tension is needed before a sprint or jumping event. You just want to be able to control this, that is why the relaxation methods used during training are good, becuase they give you some control of your emotions.

Do you tighten up in the race or is it before it?

If it is during the race is it because you are trying to push it.

In Charlies book, he talks about Ben figuring out why Carl was beating him. Ben was pushing it and not waiting for it to happen.

If it is before a race. I’ve had success with athletes treating competition (low key ones) as training.

One thing that works for me is to remember why I run (enjoyment, competition etc) and to remove any expectations of how fast I will go today.

Hope it helps…

Thanks for the feedback guys. It may be a confidence issue that started when I started, as I always used to badly struggle in competitions, getting beaten by a long way a lot of the time. I think most people would have given up in those circumstances, but I still loved sprinting.

I tighten up during the race. My start is possibly my weakest part of the race, so it leaves me chasing, which shouldn’t be a major problem, as my pick up is decent, and the majority of the people I race don’t have as good a final 40m as I do. But there have been a couple of incidences where I have led from gun to tape, and still looked/felt tight. Having said that, I do feel nervous before I compete.

I do listen to music before I compete, but not what you would consider calming music. I’m talking eminem style music. But I do it to help put myself in my own world. I have never tried meditation however.

I have tried treationg competition as training, but that doesn’t seem to work once the gun goes off.

I think this is an issue I struggle with more than most people, and I’m not really too sure what the root of the problem is (except what I mentioned earlier). If I can overcome this problem, then I’m sure I’ll seem like a different athlete when I compete.

It sounds (as you have mentioned and what others have stated) that you tighten up in two scenarios. When you are trailing, you try to force yourself into the race, which causes you to tighten up and then if you are in the lead, it suprises you, which then causes you to run defensively, ie. run not to lose.
Remember that you are running your own race, with the exception that there are other people beside you running their own race as well. Get into a zone and forget about the world.

Thanks dlive. It is easier said than done to get into your own zone and run tunnel vision. Do you, or does anyone, have any suggestions on how I can do this?

I think you were spot on with the running defensively. I never looked at it like that, but it makes sense.

I agree that it is hard to get into the zone. You cant force yourself into this mental state, you just progress into this through more exposure to competition and gradual build-up of confidence and race preparation. Hope this helps.

Yeh, it does help, thank you. Basically I should try and get as much racing experience as possible in order to try and simulate the conditions as much possible.

The key to successful competition is to do exactly what you do in practice- nothing else- nothing special!! The higher performance in meets comes from additional adrenaline and appropriate preparation/tapering and not from a different method of execution.

Charlie how do you feel about the different styles of blocks used going from one meet to another did this ever have an effect on your athletes block settings or their start?

Originally posted by Timothy Lane
Charlie how do you feel about the different styles of blocks used going from one meet to another did this ever have an effect on your athletes block settings or their start?

From my perspective YES! We spent hours getting my athletes start right, only to discover that the start didn’t work with the type of blocks used at the next competition we attended.

We managed to get a hold of some of the blocks that they use at most major meets here and have been working with those. They are a flat pedal shape rather than the curved pedal shape. I think getting the start right with these flat blocks should carry through to most other blocks, but not vice versa.

Tightening up in unusual situations is something that you have learned and therefore must be unlearned. This might be a phenomenon for everybody and tightly connected to natural (possibly genetic) self preservation.

Start with relaxing in everyday situations. For example when it’s really cold outside and you see everybody walking like Robocops with their shoulders touching their ears (you will probably do it yourself too)… relax you shoulders and you’ll feel it’s not any colder that way. Another one … while doing contrast showers, when you turn to the cold side of the freaking situation you most probably will turn up like a stiff penguin … again loosening up won’t make it feel any cooler .

Maris, I think you can find similar situations while training, race day mornings, warm-up, when you get the ‘on your marks command’ … well you get the point! Start with small things and then gradually move towards bigger ones. You’ll always need to succeed in them first, before they’ll become natural and automatic.