A race well-prepared, is already half-won! Yes, but how to “prepare for a race”? How to remain calm and maximize your energy?
My experience as athlete coach showed me that only focus on performance and physical progress was far from enough. How many of us have gone totally beside in a competition while they were in good shape?
To maximize his chances, the preparation should, in my opinion, be regarded as a set that includes of course the physical but also, and almost equal importance, the mind.
To focus only on the course, you must first get rid of all the little organizational hassles and adjust to the smallest degree to the tasks at hand. Study the route to get to the start, the registration process, the pre-race menus, a place and a warm-up playlist, is a first step. Making your bag and check it is the second: running clothing, hat, watch, refueling, etc. This seems obvious, but there is nothing more stressful than realizing at the last minute we forgot something important like cycling shoes!
Then, viewing the race has always worked well for me. If you have the opportunity to conduct a reconnaissance of the course, it is even more effective. This is truly to get in the right mental and emotional condition to race and see in thought and feeling each element, each step: passing the difficulties, note the places of refreshment, awareness and descent, places where it speeds up or slows down, difficult terrain, etc. This anticipation allows to leave the least possible room for the unknown. Being the master of the race, would not suffering, it also minimizes energy losses caused by stress.
Finally, mental preparation is for me one of the fundamental aspects of the pre-race. I think that there is no universal method. Good preparation depends on each character. Relaxation therapy and meditation, relatives of visualization, can succeed with overcoming anxiety. Some, more extroverted will instead need to relax, do some running or bike trips to many, to reduce tensions. I am convinced that the coach’s role is fundamental at this stage too. It helps the athlete to prepare, to analyze one’s weaknesses and strengths. He offers methods to manage stress. And from there he built with his mental preparation that suits him.
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