Before a race or a big event, do you ever feel overwhelmed? Nervous? Anxious?
For the most part, experiencing those sensations is normal. Yet, oftentimes, negative self talk can exasperate the problem.
Thoughts like, “I haven’t trained enough” or you find yourself caring too much about what other people think. Maybe looking around the start of an event you take a mental inventory and think other cyclist look more fit or have better bikes. Worst case scenario, you notice the weather and assign its condition as to how you think you will perform. Whatever the case may be, managing your thoughts and creating successful race day routines is well within your scope of control.
At Peak Cycles Bicycle shop, we’ve found that a little preparation can aid in reducing race day jitters. Here’s what works!
Register for an Event – In order to experience race day jitters, you actually have to be registered for an event! If you don’t have anything planned, select a road race and / or MTB race for the upcoming month. Here’s what we have on tap for Colorado racing:
- July 30, 2016 – 155 Team Challenge Gran Fondo, Montrose
- July 30, 2016 – Colorado Park to Park Challenge, Denver to Winter Park, 96mi (a challenge!)
- July 30, 2016 – Circle the Summit (Bob Guthrie Memorial), Summit County, 21/45/60/100mi
- July 30, 2016 – Cripple Creek Crippler, Ken Caryl, 207mi, 19,000ft, Double Century
- July 31-August 6, 2016 – Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour, Gunnison, 472mi, 7-days
- August 6, 2016 – I-25 Kia Copper Triangle, Copper Mountain, 82mi
- August 6, 2016 – Stonewall Century Bicycle Ride, Spanish Peaks, La Veta, 100mi
- August 7, 2016 – Classic Velo Retro Rider, Boulder, Vecchio’s at 10am
- August 9-14, 2016 – Breck Epic, Breckenridge, 35-50mi a day, 6-day stage race, MTB
- August 13, 2016 – Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Leadville, 100mi, MTB
- August 13, 2016 – Red Rocks Gran Fondo, Red Rocks (a hard one!), 33/50/62/100mi
- August 13, 2016 – BStrong Ride, Boulder, 24/69mi
- August 13, 2016 – The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hillclimb Gran Fondo, 12.42m, ~8,000ft
- August 13, 2016 – Prestige Imports Vuelta a Dillon Fondo, Dillon, 20/60/90mi
- August 13, 2016 – Tour of the Valley, Grand Junction, 30/50/78/100mi
- August 20, 2016 – Tour de Cure Colorado, Longmont, 10/50/62/100mi
- August 20, 2016 – Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop, Golden, 200mi, 15,000ft
- August 28, 2016 – Golden Gran Fondo, Golden, 20/60/90mi
- August 27, 2016 – Colo Bike Law Lookout Mountain Hillclimb, Golden, 4.6mi, 1200ft
- August 27, 2016 – Venus de Miles, Boulder, 33/51/100mi, women only
- August 27, 2016 – CF Cycle For Life (Cystic Fibrosis), Highlands Ranch, 14/49/65mi
- August 28, 2016 – Good Sam Bike Jam, Lafayette (Boulder County), 62/100mi
- August 29, 2016 – Colorado Gran Fondo, Colorado Springs, 60/100mi
Set Goals – Everyone has different goals. For some, races are just about getting harder efforts in and saddle time. For others, it’s making the podium. For most cyclist, it’s about achieving personal bests. The most important aspect of having a goals it that it can help reduce pre race anxiety and also help you better evaluate your performance post race. Identify what you want to accomplish with this event – whether it be a targeted heart rate or power zone, a solid nutrition plan, or attacking certain areas on the race course.
Race Route – Know the course and the conditions. Weather can alter race course conditions considerably. Take into consideration the bike parts you’ll be racing and confirm you have the bike components and gear needed to successfully race the course. For mountain bike components – consider tire selection carefully when riding wet and muddy trails. Familiarity with the race course and weather conditions aids in having confidence to tackle anything that comes at you during your big event.
Race Day Rituals – Designing and refining a pre-event routine is an important part of building a successful race season. Does having a checklist of race day activities help structure your preparation to the start line? Include items such as nutrition, hydration, clothes, gear, extra bike parts and basic bike tools. This way, you won’t forget anything as you prepare for your start. Maybe visualization, mantras, and breathing exercises are your thing. Regardless, each event offers you a chance to build on race day rituals that have helped you in the past and also enhance your support for your next race.
Start Line Mental State – Your thoughts, emotions, and pre race behaviors are components of your mental state; with that in mind, take inventory of your mental state and align them with your goals. It’s easy to compare your training and fitness to others. Here is where having your race plan and goals specific to this event comes in handy.
Success Parameters – Evaluate your results based on your goals. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do next race to get a better result? Be objective and explore how your mental and physical training helped prepare you for this event. Remember to evaluate your bike and cycling accessory selections. Did you race the right bike? Would a different wheel set make a difference? Did you suffer from mechanicals? Now is the time to dial in, replace, and buy the bike parts that you need going into your next event.
Whether you’re entering your first event or you’re a seasoned racer, you’re always likely to suffer from some race day nerves. However, with a little planning you can gain confidence. No matter what your training has been like up until this point, having successful race day strategies in place puts you way ahead of a lot of other people on race day.