Coach Chad had a great response to the pre-race nerves question on the latest podcast. I would only add one thing. Just like the physical side of training we need to train our psychological side of sport. I highly recommend finding and working with a sports psychologist that can help you find your optimal training and racing arousal level. There are many techniques out there to either increase or decrease our current mental state.
Pre race nerves are real. I recently catted up and my first race in the new category was this last weekend at the State Criterium Race. I noticed a couple days before I wasn’t getting a good night sleep sleep and my stomach was a mess. This was the first time I experienced the pre race nerves and I feel it had a bunch to do with the fact that my training and RPE were poor over the last month. I let my physical feelings control me mentally. I really feel that some positive training rides before can really help with the confidence and control the nerves!
The mental side of racing is just as, if not more important than the fitness. It’s also the one that gets thrown by the wayside. I’m a huge proponent of working on your mental strength so you can push yourself that much further when training or racing.
My go to recommendation for anyone looking to improve in this aspect is How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald. The TR crew has recommended this book multiple times as well. It’s a game changer.
I push a lot of riders that work with to try and make a mindset change, and often start them off with having them change their vocabulary. It sounds silly, but just changing the way you self-talk can improve your ability to dig deep. I use it as the first stepping stone to a positive, growth oriented outlook on your training and on suffering.
All of this mental training can help you get a hold of your pre-race nerves. And once you’ve built a routine into getting ready before a race, all you have to do is follow that same routine and do what you always do.
My biggest quick tip for getting into the right mindset and calming pre-race nerves: Have a playlist of music that you listen to, every time, before a race. And only use this playlist when you’re getting ready. If you can, listen to the songs in the same order, every time.
This will help you build a routine, bring a familiarity to the process, and get you focused on the task at hand
I really enjoy that book, and there are many more on my book list for this topic as well. I am currently working towards my masters is sport and performance psychology, and my wife is a licensed clinical social worker as well as a certified life coach. We are currently working with all levels of athletes from professional to those just wanting to accomplish a personal best or successfully complete an event. We also just launched a podcast (Sound Mind Strategies) that tackles many of of the mental aspects to training, racing, and life in general.
I’ve found great success through mindfulness training, being “in the moment” and taking control of your thoughts/thinking. I gained a basic understanding of this concept through a few books (The Brave Athlete and The Mindful Athlete) and countless podcasts, but it was the practice through the Headspace App that has put it into practice. My current “run steak” of daily mindfulness training is at 59 days, which has taken me through my first race and win of the season. I can’t overstate the value of this training coupled with TrainerRoad. One trains the body and the other trains the mind. However, with both, if you’re not consistent you’ll fail to see the full value.