Being in a good place mentally is half the battle when it comes to preparing for a race. You want to be focused, relaxed, and confident when you begin. If you show up flustered, disorganized, or worried you’ll have a harder time focusing on what you need to do, how to pace yourself, or even how to breathe properly. Here’s some tips on how to mentally prepare for a race.
Plan Your Morning
When you wake up the morning of your race the last thing you want is to be thinking about what to eat, what to wear, do I have enough gas in my car to get there, and a million other little things. Plan your morning meticulously the day before:
- Check the weather
- Plan your outfit
- Plan your breakfast
- Get a full tank of gas
- Pack what you need to take
- Plan exactly how long it will take you to reach the race
- Familiarize yourself with the racecourse
Planning for and completing all of these tasks will mean that your morning will be calm and relaxed rather than flustered as you fall behind in your schedule. Eliminate all possible sources of stress.
What To Eat And Drink
The day before the race is the time to ensure that you are properly hydrated and that all nutrition stores are topped up. When you start your race you want to know that you did everything possible to prepare physically. This will leave you more room to be concerned about your pedaling instead of starting in a nutrition or hydration deficit. Nobody enjoys bonking!
Make sure that you drink to your thirst, drinking too much water will dilute your blood of nutrients, not drinking enough will decrease your V02max.
Contrary to popular belief you do not want to “carb load” the night before. It is likely that you glycogen stores are nearly full already, you are not a camel… you are not able to store massive amounts of carbs in your body. Have a balanced meal with carbs, protein and lean fats. Avoid heavy foods and alcohol so that you do not feel sluggish or dehydrated.
Sleep And Rest
You don’t want to wear yourself out the day before a race. Being at peak performance requires that you don’t show up with sore muscles, feeling groggy, or worrying that you’ll run out of steam too soon. The day before a race you should train very lightly, (20-30min at 50% effort with 3 minutes of race pace) if you train at all. This should be a day of rest and planning. When you go to bed that night you don’t want to be laying awake thinking about all the things you have to do in morning. A good night’s rest is key to getting yourself in the game.
Confidence is key! Ask Alesha Agur an unstoppable force on the bike. Trust that your training has prepared you for the race ahead. If you feel like you are a person that lacks confidence before races fake it ’til you make it! Positive self talk can convince your mind of anything.
If you have done the course before then mentally visualize what you plan on doing at each stage of the race the day before. Make a plan for the race including what you are going to eat and drink and when. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Preparing for a race mentally can be a powerful tool if you remain calm, plan the unforeseeable, and come in with confidence. Worrying about hunger, thirst, how late you are, and if you’re rested enough for this race will hold you back physically. Many racers have small little rituals before they begin a race such as meditation, listening to a playlist, or a set of stretches. Figure out what works best for you and stick to that routine. This will take you far.