By ALP Coach Alison Powers
The art of being prepared comes down to one simple thing—no surprises on race day.
Preparing for race day is more than training and recovery. Success on race day requires precise preparation. These means the things you can control should be dialed in, ready, and give you confidence to have the best performance possible.
“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail”—famous quote by someone who inspires people to get their shit together.
Preparation begins the weeks leading into the race. Do your homework and learn things such as- what is the length of the course, what are the fitness and skills demands of the course/race, when do I need to register for the race, who will be my competition, winning times from previous years, average weather temperature for that time of year, etc. Once you know this basic information, talk it over with your coach, and come up with a plan for success.
Preparation continues the week of the race. During this time, make sure your equipment is dialed in. Bike is clean and in good working condition- same with tires, cleats, suspension, etc. Missing the winning breakaway because you couldn’t get it in the big chain ring is not a good excuse for a bad race.
The day before the race is where little things you do to prepare can make big differences. These include, pre riding the course, checking who’s pre-registered so you know your competition, eating and hydrating well, preparing your race bag (clothing, shoes, helmet, extra clothing, recovery drink, etc) and day of and race food and resting and sleeping.
Preparation continues the day of the race. Most successful racers have a well-tested pre-race routine and they stick to it. Dialing in your own pre-race routine will ensure that you arrive at the start line feeling calm and ready. This pre-race routine includes things like; having a schedule for when to eat breakfast, when to pack the car, drive to the race, pick up race numbers, and pre-ride the course. This will help ensure you don’t forget items at home and you’re ready for everything. This routine also includes food, drink, bathroom, etc. The goal is to know exactly what to eat, when to eat it, when to pee, and when and how much to drink.
The goal of all this preparation is to give you the best possible chance to have a successful race. During the race, you must put this preparation into place. Have a pre-race plan and stick to it as best as possible (or have a plan B and/or C incase plan A didn’t work). Make sure to eat and drink according to plan, and trust that all the hard work you have put in will pay off.
Finally, your preparation continues post-race. After cooling down, make sure to have a change of clothes, post-race nutrition (food and/or recovery drink), and give some thought as to what went well and what you can improve upon so come next race, you are better prepared for success.