"You may have the talent to win a race, but if you haven’t thought it through properly, you won’t win."
- Dame Kelly Holmes
As the season approaches it is time to decide your plan of action – what your hopes and goals are and how you will put them into action and see them come to fruition. Here are some points and tips for you to consider.
CHARACTERISTICS OF QUALITY PREPARATION
- Clear training goals
- Planned and organised sessions
- Competition simulation
- Mental rehearsal
- Pre-competition routines
1. Setting goals Goals should be:
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It is vital that you and your coach know where you are going and why you are going there.
Setting out your race plans gives you focus, motivation and targets. Planning your training around school/work commitments prevents fatigue and lack of interest and reduces risk of injury.
3. Be prepared for competition
Don’t always leave preparation for competition to the day of the race. The following can help develop the skills and awareness of your feeling and approach to your preparation:
- Simulating racing by doing time trials and group sessions
- Having clear targets for repetitions
- Training back-to-back to replicate heats and finals
5. Mental rehearsal
How much do you THINK about your race BEFORE race day?
When you look at the amount of time you commit physically to your performance on a day-to-day basis, it is astounding how little you train mentally. Given that most athletes who have trained hard are committed and know their own ability as opposed to their rivals, it is generally the case that bad races are down to you talking yourself out and nerves. This in turn makes you tense, forget your race plan and stops you performing at your best.
5. Pre-competition (day of race)
What do you think about before you race?
- Your hair?
- Whether you have make up on?
- What your kit is like?
- Who else is in the race?
- How you are going to get there?
- Who is coming to watch?
- Am I ready in body?
- Am I ready in mind?
- Have I got a race plan?
- Am I nervous?
- Am I confident?
- Am I fired up?
- What will the outcome be?
How you think before your race could make all the difference to your performance.
What do you need to prepare before you leave home?
Your kit and your spikes… and what else?
6. During competition (within 2 hours of race)
What are the processes you undertake within the window of competition?
Think of all the things you as an athlete go through prior to the start of the race, e.g. warm up (how long before), call room etc.
7. Post competition
After you have competed there are many important factors you need to take into account.
A warm down is an important part of recovery after a race. It helps with the removal of lactic acid and waste products and to reduce the increased nerve firing that comes after exercising hard back towards normal levels.
As part of your warm down you should stretch out all your muscles. Stretching when warm has greater effect than stretching when cold, therefore greater flexibility gains can be made. It also has the benefit of getting your muscles back as close as possible to their normal length which will allow you to recover faster, reducing the rick of injury and leaving you in better shape for your next session.
Fuelling up after competition is crucial for recovery. Eating in the first 20 minutes after exercise will activate receptors inside the muscle cells which will encourage more of the energy from the food you eat to enter those cells in the next 24 hours for use in your next race or session. You can find more advice on pages 03-05.
This should be done away from the competition, especially if the outcome was not a good one for you. You should always take away at least one positive from the race itself and then sit down to analyse it at another time.
Always give yourself a pat on the back for a good performance. It is why you do what you do!