6 Pre-Race Tips to Train Your Mind and Body for Cyclists
| Road Bike
Cyclists that have been riding for years will tell you that training is important when you prep for a race. Your body needs to be in top physical condition and you’ve got to have stamina banked in order to go the distance.
But physical training is only part of it. In those final days, hours and minutes leading up to race day you’re not likely to do much of anything that will improve your physical fitness. This close to game time, you need to shift your focus to your mental state.
The mind is either a gateway or a barrier to what you can do physically during any event. Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness.
As the days tick off leading up to the event you should reflect on your goals and return to them throughout each day. If you don’t have any goals, it’s time to get some – and fast.
Having goals, and keeping them at the front of your mind as the event draws closer, are a terrific counter against the mental stress and anxiety. A lack of goals will leave you less anchored. Goals will keep you focused, solid and ready to go. The last thing you need on the starting line is growing anxiety.
Check out these 6 pre-race tips to train your mental fitness now that your body is tuned in.
Make a plan for the event
Setting the goals are easy, but creating a race plan will improve your confidence so that you know the path you have to take to achieve those goals. The plan can be anything; a pre-race plan, a nutrition and hydration strategy for a double century, or just your plan on how to win the local sprint that your group ride is holding. Plans keep you from riding blind toward your goals.
Make a point to take care of you – all of you.
Anxiety can have you slipping when it comes to nutrition. Pay close attention to what goes into your body and make a plan based on what you know is best for you. This includes the right amount of sleep. Also avoid spending too much time sizing up competition and seeing who else is involved. If you unduly compare yourself to others you’re just creating toxic thoughts that are guaranteed to harm your physical performance on race day.
Every thought you have should be positive when you’re focusing on your physical preparedness, your nutrition, your sleep – even your relaxation. If you have a spiritual or religious practice, stick to it. Set nothing aside that’s important to you as you prepare because guilt can be just as stressful as anxiety in those final days. If you need to do so, make a list of anything you can do to support yourself.
Organize additional support
If you have a coach, talk to them about the event. If you don’t have a tight group of supporters then the members of the RideNa community can be a great support network to speak with about your concerns. Ask the right questions, share your concerns and thoughts and get what you need from those relationships to help you stay sharp and focused.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to teammates, friends, family and other riders.
Visualize the event
Professional athletes often use visualization to reduce anxiety. Leading up to your event you should visualize all or parts of the race and how you’ll run it. Ride the circuit in your head and visualize it as you go. Use available images and familiarize yourself through visualization; it will help build confidence for race day.
Ride it like you stole it
Well, maybe not at break-neck speeds but ride! Ride at an appropriate level of volume and intensity leading up to the event. Don’t burn yourself out but continued riding will keep your mood up, sustain your confidence and help you avoid living “in your head”. Pre-riding the course, if possible, will do wonders for your mental fitness.
Plan your trip
If you’re traveling to the event, do everything you can to minimize travel stresses that can mess with your ride mojo. Create packing lists, confirm all travel info in advance and then let it go.
Stay relaxed whenever possible. Your mind needs appropriate downtime and recovery days just like your body does after intense workouts. If you’re sufficiently relaxed and ready on event day you will be a beast who is able to tap into an inner strength and confidence you didn’t even know was there.
Keep your mind fit, and your body will follow.