Whether you are entering your first race or you’re a veteran there are many things you can do before you get to the start line to improve your chances of performing to the best of your ability. You have worked on preparing your body so here are 5 tips on how to mentally prepare for a race. Putting theses in place will give you the best opportunity for success.
1. Set Your Goals
Writing down your goals for the race is important but there are some easy to follow rules.
Think performance not results. It is very easy to get frustrated if your only goals are based around winning or taking a top 10 finish. To be honest, with only having those goals you learn very little to help you in your next race. Instead, think in terms of performance goals. Ask yourself this question – what are the things I have to do to achieve the best result possible in this race?
The performance goals that my cycling clients make may include:
- Have breakfast
- Arrive on time
- Drink 1 bottle per hour
- Eat or take gel every 45mins
- Be near the front of the group going into the climbs
- Attack at X distance
- Focus on pull push technique on climbs
Having performance goals like these allow you to easily review them after the race to see which ones you achieved and which ones you need to work on for the next race.
Write down your own performance goals now!
2. Make a List
You would be amazed how many people turn up to events without their water bottle or even their shoes because they forgot to pack them. This causes a lot of anxiety, which uses up too much energy and can make you less focused on the race. The last thing you need is to be rushing around at the last minute looking for pins to attach your race number.
Making a list of what you will need for your race day is hugely important. Write it down and tick everything off the list as you put your gear together. Pack the night before you go to the race and double check before you leave on the day.
This list might include:
- Race licence
Write your list now!
3. Know the Where’s and When’s
Everything on the following list may sound like common sense but this is NOT always common practice and a lot of riders turn up at races in the wrong place or at the wrong time. Many races have been lost because riders didn’t know where the finish line was and so didn’t react quickly enough to the sprint or attacks.
The following are details you need to know and take notes on
- Where is the registration?
- What time is the registration?
- Where does the race start?
- What time does it start?
- Where does it finish?
- What is the course like (distance and profile)
- Try to do a recce of the course (or at least the finish) or ask someone who has been there before.
4. Focus on What You Can Control
Here’s the deal – You cant change the weather, the route or even your opponents, so therefor the only thing you can control is you and your response to those things. Focus on what you have to do in your race. The other three tips I have given you so far are things that you can control.
Let’s face it, you’re probably going to be thinking about your race a lot before the day. What’s interesting is that this form of day-dreaming, imagery, visualisation or self-hypnosis has an affect on your performance, so you might as well learn how to do it properly.
Here are some basic rules
- Find a quite place where you wont be disturbed
- Close your eyes
- Tense your leg muscles
- Take in a deep breath and as you slowly exhale relax the leg muscles
- Repeat the same process with your upper body
- Now that you are a bit more relaxed begin to imagine your race as you want it to go. See yourself on the start line. Feel the sensations you will feel and imagine what you might hear.
- Now imagine different aspects of your race as you want it to go and add as much detail and sensation as you can.
- At the end of the imagery just slowly open your eyes
- Practice each day and on the race day itself
Note: You may find it difficult to do at first because it takes practice but it is worth doing. If you are a cyclist and would like help with your visualisation/imagery I have a product below that will guide you through a powerful visualisation exercise.
Spokes Mental Fitness Programme
If you’d like more information on how Spokes can tailor a mental fitness programme to your exact needs, why not check out our products and services. Need more info or would you like to speak to one of our coaches? Get in contact.