You’ve done months of training, worked really hard and sacrificed a lot – the few weeks/days before your event is not the time to ruin it. Here are my eight-key points to ensuring you have a successful day:
Training: A coach is invaluable here but it is unlikely you will see any significant gains 2-3 weeks or less into your key event, so all you need to do is ensure you reach the start line fresh without undertraining. This is called a taper, some people take three weeks, some a matter of days. It can look like anything but usually it is a reduction in amount of training you do, while retaining a similar intensity. Test your taper prior to your key event using smaller rides, testing or races – then stick to it! Don’t do too much and don’t do too little!
Preparation: At least a week before you should have tested all your kit out. Anything that doesn’t get regularly used needs to be tested and anything that you’ll use on the day and not in between can be packed ready to go. Create a list of items you’ll need to take, think of every possibility and then get it all ready asap.
Day Before: You should have a day before or activation session and routine sorted well before your key event. Again, testing, smaller events and races are a great time to practice exactly what you should do the day before your big day. It might look like half hour to an hour of easier riding with some short but hard efforts similar to the intensity of your “A” event in it. Having an effective day before routine will prep your mind as much as your body and leave you knowing that all you have to do is nail your event! Don’t get distracted, get it done!
Course Recce: In an ideal world, you’ll have ridden the course numerous times prior to your event. If this isn’t possible then you could watch a video of it leading into the big day, once might not be enough so play it while you train or do your taper sessions. Worse case drive it the day before or morning of. Anything is better than nothing and knowing the course inside out will make a huge difference to your mentality.
Warm-Up: You should have an effective warm-up that is relevant to your event sorted long before your “A” event. The key factors for this are, usually just to ensure your body is ready for the effort you’re about to put in. The one thing that gets forgotten is how important prepping your mind is to having a great ride. During your warm-up, you might consider playing motivational music, a short video, repeating affirmations or power phrases. Get in your bubble and don’t get distracted. This is your time, fill your mind with positivity! If you’re doing a sportive event you might do your warm-up right at the start of the ride instead.
Pacing: If you’ve ridden the course you’ll have an idea of where you can save time with effective pacing. If you couldn’t ride it you can use software like Best Bike Split to create a race plan (which can actually be practiced in advance – comes standard with our coaching packages). On the day, you’ll need to make allowances for the weather and in real time you’ll have to factor in any groups or changes you might encounter. Know your limits.
Positivity: Positive mental attitude plays a massive part in having a good ride. Put yourself under too much pressure or allow negative thoughts to consume your mindset and you’re setting yourself up for a fail. Meditation is the quickest way to learning how to be mindful and apps like Headspace make it easy for the beginner. Watch this space, how you train your brain is the next big change in non-professional sports coaching.
Food/Drink: You should know exactly what you’ll be able to eat and drink by testing it during training. You should know the exact amounts, what will be ok in your stomach and what will give you the energy to finish strong. Do not deviate from your plan, eating something off plan is the quickest way to failure. If you’re riding a sportive or can’t carry all your food check out what they’ll have at feed stations and test it prior.
1. Training; stop and taper
2. Prepare; bike, kit, bag – all sorted a week in advance
3. Day Before Routine; do it and do not deviate nor get distracted
4. Course Recce; ride it, watch it or drive it
5. Warm-Up; do not deviate from your normal routine, give yourself enough time and do not get distracted
6. Pacing; have your plan and stick to it but have some contingency plans just in case
7. Positivity; positive minds breed positive results
8. Food/Drink; do not eat/drink off plan