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What Happens When We Press The Registration Button?

What Happens When We Press The Registration Button? JoAnne Barbieri Contributor Run Tri Bike Magazine

Registering for a race can be both an exciting and nerve racking process. Once pressing the registration button, thoughts and fantasies of participating in a specific event come to life! What Happens When We Press The Registration Button? The idea of competing in the event has now become a reality! There is now a due date connected to this event in the athlete’s life. This can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, even for seasoned athletes. Numerous emotions and thoughts are released when registering for a race—leading to an athlete questioning their abilities and motives.

What Happens When We Press The Registration Button?

Let’s dive into some psychological factors behind registering for a race!

  1. Understanding the Subjective View. After the excitement of registering for a race comes the realization of what comes next! The athlete has committed to training for this event. They will be mentally and physically challenging themselves. The perception of the event is unique to each athlete. This is true, even if the athlete has participated in similar events previously. It is necessary for the athlete to consider the reason behind WHY they selected this event. What does this race mean to them? How about their perception of training?  Each of these components assists the athlete as they begin to design and implement their training program.
  2. Examining achievement motivation. What factors contributed to the athlete deciding to register for this race? Did the athlete actually have to register for the race, or could they have just run the distance independently without being in the race environment? Each athlete possesses a level of achievement motivation ranging from low to high. For athletes that identify with having a higher achievement motivation, they are likely to seek out challenges to test their potential and keep striving forward. Perhaps registering for a race is a way that these athletes put their dreams into action! The way athletes with high achievement motivation design their training programs might be very structured and systematically developed providing them the opportunity to continue challenging themselves.
  3. Entering the World of the Unknown. As the reality of registering for a race sets in, an athlete can experience mixed emotions, including excitement and nervousness. It is first essential to recognize that whatever feelings an athlete experiences are entirely valid; how an athlete approaches their training after identifying these emotions matters most. As an athlete takes ownership of becoming aware of the elements of the “unknown” that might cause them to feel stressed or anxious, they will actually be able to develop stronger strategies for success in their training.  Structure and strategies for success are critical for athletes of any experience level.
  4. Establishing the Training Program. Each athlete has a way that they like to train. Some prefer designing their training schedule independently, while others prefer hiring coaches to assist in this program design and implementation. Whatever the path, the main goal is to ensure that the athlete incorporates appropriate periodization within their schedule to progress properly with their physical training. One aspect that should not be left out is for the athlete to train their mind throughout their training program proactively instead of only reactively when an issue might arise.

Throughout training for a race, athletes have the opportunity to experience numerous elements of training. Athletes often allow their focus to fall on what they could do better, what they should have done instead, or question their abilities. Training provides athletes the best opportunities to learn about their growth and potential. By incorporating self-reflective practices, athletes can see how much they have grown since the first day of their training and how they can develop strategies to assist them in pushing forward. For many athletes, pressing that registration button is so much more than completing a race; it is a test to unlock their true potential and might be what keeps them coming back for more!


Dr JoAnne Bullard Run Tri Bike Magazine Doctor of Sport and Performance Psychology

JoAnne Bullard is a Doctor of Sport and Performance Psychology and a Certified Mental Performance Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

She serves as a tenured Associate Professor at Rowan University and is the owner of Absolute Fitness, LLC.  Her goal is to provide a holistically applied approach for clients through performance psychology consulting. She has experience working with athletes of all ages, including endurance athletes, in individual and group sessions.  Her research areas include mindfulness, performance anxiety, goal setting, coping strategies, and mental well-being of athletes.

She has completed five marathons, numerous half-marathons, and is always looking for her next race.