Physical and Mental Conditioning


September 11, 2016

Physical and Mental Conditioning

By: Nick Burson / 5 Time U.S.D.R. Pro Champion

When race day is fast approaching and you are looking to get a leg up on the competition it can come before you even get to the race.  Preparation is very key and important in a sport like ours.  You should be planning your race schedule out ahead of time to make sure you are going to be ready come race day.  Physical training for racing is a very important part of being prepared on race day so you’re ready to go the full distance fast and safe. To prepare physically for race day the most important part is seat time. You should be trying to ride as much as possible and be comfortable and confident on the bike. There is nothing worse than getting beat because you got tired.  Along with seat time getting a cardio and strength based workout in 2-3 times per week would be ideal.  I personally like crossfit style workouts because you get a mix of cardio and strength in the same workout.  I mix up crossfit workouts with cycling workouts throughout the week to make sure I’m prepared for race day.  

Going with the theme above is your diet.  Eating healthy all the time is key but let’s talk about the week leading up to the race.  This is when your body starts getting its fuel that is going to be needed on race day to perform.  A good balanced high carb diet is essential in making sure your body has enough fuel to burn in a long desert race.  The morning of a race it is very important to get a good breakfast in.  I have a hard time eating in the mornings let alone on race day. If the race is later then that is better for me as I have time to wake up and eat a normal breakfast.  Sometimes we don’t have that luxury and races start super early.  For me a banana and peanut butter and jelly sandwich is about all I can choke down before a start. I also like to mix in a cycling based recovery drink the morning of the race just to give my body some extra carbs and calories before the big race and hydrating a little bit more at the same time. Hydration also doesn’t start the night before it starts the week leading up to the race.  You don’t want to overload your body with gallons of water the day before because whilst it is a good idea to take in one or two additional cups of fluid each day in the final couple of days to make up for any lingering shortfall in your system it is certainly not necessary or beneficial to go crazy with the drinking over and above what your body is telling you that you need.

Now if you have done the first two parts the 3rd part of this is fairly easy but if you haven’t this is when it gets tough.  The mental focus on race day should be to focus on the race and the race only.  If you have done your work before the race then your focus won’t be wasted on worrying if you have drank enough water or if you’re going be strong enough the whole race.  You should go to the line mentally ready to give it your best shot and know that you are fully prepared. I like to mentally prepare by going over the beginning of the race in my head and running through different scenarios and what I’m going to do in those situations.  Having a relaxing morning and making sure you are prepared before the race is key in having strong mental focus when you’re heading to the line.  With everything also remind yourself that you are here to have fun and enjoy the situation knowing you are prepared and ready for race day.

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