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Race Mistakes & How to Avoid Them! [Part 2]

If you missed Part 1 of this blog, we’d recommend you go back and have a read by clicking here before continuing on to Part 2 below. 

In Part 1 we talked about 3 different types of race mistakes which occur in race events (namely bunch events) and how to avoid them.

Below, we're going to cover three more common factors which influence results and give you a few more strategies to get the most out of your riding. 

The first one is a big one... 

1. Nerves  

“Getting too nervous before your big event can affect performance!”

Pre-race nerves are a GREAT thing, but too may of them (or not enough of them) can affect your performance.

This is why it’s really important to find an optimal arousal level before your big race or event, which will enable you, perform at your very best. 

We've included a diagram below which demonstrates the relationship between nerves and performance.  

If you find you get too nervous, or the opposite - not quite enough to perform at an optimal level, we would recommend taking a look at our Olympic Psychologist’s collection of Mindset videos which talk more about attaining the right mindset for performance and give you some tips on how to do so. 

We’d also recommend practicing pre-race habits, which are conducive to performance.

For example: Before race day write a list of process goals, which you feel, will assist you with your performance but aren’t outcome related.

This might include things like: eating muesli for breakfast, following warm up procedure correctly or practicing meditation 1 hour before your race for 10 mins.

Outcomes aside, if you can tick off boxes in your process goals, you’ll be less ‘outcome focused’ in each moment, and more present.

Having more process goals and less outcome goals, will allow you to retain control of your feelings, emotions and nerves that may assist with your arousal levels.

2. Timing & Scheduling

“When you miss the mark with your Individual Pursuit scheduling and are either well on top of schedule (a few seconds up on what was planned), or more commonly, struggling to maintain planned lap times.” 

As you approach longer individual distance events such as the 3 kilometre or 4 kilometre time trial, it’s a great idea to have a set schedule which should reflect an achievable overall goal time that is broken up into half lap or lap intervals.

Once you’ve got your schedule in place, it’s important to practice holding schedule in training efforts for a set distance (but not the full distance of your event). 

Have a coach or friend stand on the side of the track to let you know if you’re up, down or on schedule.

That way when it comes to race day, you feel confident and prepared to execute the planned time. 

If you haven’t practiced your schedule to any extent, or go into your event with an unrealistic goal time, then it is likely that you will find yourself down on your proposed schedule, or up too early and then down shortly thereafter.

3. Fatigue Affecting Form

“When your fatigue levels start to impact on your technique.”

Have you ever completely ‘smashed’ yourself in a training effort, hit the brick fatigue wall, and had to continue regardless of how you were feeling at the time? 

Did you notice any ‘side-affects’ of your fatigue, such as an ‘effort headache’, lactic acid accumulation in your legs resulting in inability to retain efficiency or dropping of the head, and lack of control on the bike?

Whilst some or a combination of the majority of these symptoms can be common across most cyclists, some will hold better technique in times of major fatigue which can result in a stronger finish and end-result.

This is why when you get tired in training, it’s important to really focus on maintaining good technique through threshold or fatigue barriers.

The more you’re able to practice good form in every type of riding situation, the better result you’ll have in:

a) saving time by holding your line and retaining good technique and

b) having an awareness of the major muscle groups you're using which will enable you to maintain a good power line when experiencing fatigue during an event. 

Before you go back to your daily training routine, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Have you experienced pre-race nerves and have they affected your ability to perform either in a good or bad way?
  • Or did you ride a pursuit recentely, find that you struggled to keep up with your set schedule? 
  • Or was it too easy, did you get off the bike wondering whether you could have done a better time with a faster schedule? 
  • Are you a rider that knows what it's like to see stars half way through an event and then make a realisation that you've drifted out of the sprinters lane?

Understanding more about your riding abilities will allow you to acknowledge and address your strengths and weaknesses to enable you to ride faster times, or turn up to events more confident and in control. 

If you've answered yes to any of the above, we want to hear from you!

Leave us a comment below and let us know what your race challenges are!