7 Steps To Get Into Racing Mode

by | Mar 9, 2022 | Technical Articles

Spring races are around the corner – here’s how to get your brain and body into race mode!

1 Prep and plan

There’s no such thing as too much preparation for racing! Planning and prep will give you confidence, free up mental space, and allow you to approach race day with a clearer mind.

If you’re months out from your first race of the season, your preparation should revolve around the basics of nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery and your training plan.

Weeks out? Focus on nailing the key training sessions (no more, no less) and really make sure you are getting enough sleep, water, and healthy food.

2 Use your calendar

A paper or online calendar is the perfect way to plan out your race season (and associated training) in a visual way that will put your mind at rest. Put in any race dates, then work backwards and input key training runs. Don’t forget to add in other important life stuff as well, so you don’t double book yourself or end up overstretched.

Keep your calendar somewhere visible – the regular reminders of your race season will keep you focused, organised, and excited!

3 Nail down nutrition

Race season is a great time to focus on proper nutrition. The knowledge of upcoming races gives you a tangible reason to knuckle down to nailing your calorie (energy) intake, carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

There are so many benefits to good nutrition. If you have any weight to lose, nutrition is the first place to look. Balancing your macronutrients can give you more energy and help maintain muscle mass. And introducing more healthy foods can help you recover from training runs.

4 Get the basics right

Nutrition is one of the core basics of race season prep. But what about hydration, sleep, and stress management? Use this time to get into good water drinking habits (aim for at least 2 litres a day, more on training days). Tackle sleep issues by going to bed a bit earlier, not taking your phone into the bedroom, and winding down before bed.

Even a 1% improvement in sleep, stress, and hydration will have a measurable impact on your training, recovery, and ultimately on your race day performance. It’s definitely worth looking at these things now.

5 Don’t over-train

The excitement of upcoming races can make it tempting to do just one more long run or just a few more miles… but it’s never worth it. Your goal should be to stand on the start line 100% injury free, even if this means you’re 80% ready.

Get a good training plan that is realistic for your lifestyle, work commitments, and fitness level. Stick to it and don’t be tempted to programme hop or add extra sessions. You can always kick things up a gear for your next race.

6 Visualise the race

Visualisation is a popular tool in sports circles, but it often gets confused with visualising the success of winning. Here’s a better way to use mental imagery to get into racing mode.

Start to visualise every stage of the race: calmly crossing the start line, getting into your stride, controlling your breathing, enjoying the sights. Research the race route so you can pinpoint landmarks and attach positive feelings as you visualise. Practice these visualisations during training and when you’re at rest. Your brain will soon embed the feelings and emotions to help you prep for a positive race day experience.

7 Positive self-talk

Your mind is the most powerful part of your body (far more powerful than your legs!) Use your race prep period to train it. Come up with 3-5 positive statements to offset your biggest worries, and practice saying these to yourself during training runs. If you worry that you’ll be slow in your race, you could say “I am a strong runner with a steady pace”. If you think race day nerves will set in, try “I am a joyful calm runner”.

Come up with positive statements that are meaningful to you and use them to train your brain during this race prep period.