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Thread: Race Day Nerves

  1. #1
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    Race Day Nerves

    To put it simply: I feel like my nerves and my state of nervousness before the race, up to being on the startline, as well as during the race are holding me back. I fall out of form. My breathing, and subsequently, heartrate go crazy.

    I dont get nervous in front of people, or before tests. Ive never really had "performance anxiety." But, racing seems to be different. For example, I have my second cross race on Saturday (local, grassroots series that means nothing) and if I start to think about it, I get so worked up that I have to take a moment to myself.

    Any tips on how to deal with racing nerves?

  2. #2
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    Reputation: Poncharelli's Avatar
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    Race, A LOT.

    Most the summer, I race twice a week. So if I screw up the midweek race, then there's always the weekend. After a while, you get used to it.

    But my stomach seems to get screwed up race day no matter what. Even on the midweeks.
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  3. #3
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Oct 2009
    Really try to focus on what it is exactly you are worried about.

    Is it making the podium?
    Is it finding your pedal at start? (clip in)
    Is it crashing at the start?
    Is it crashing during race?
    Is it causing a wreck?
    Is it a flat tire?
    Is it about impressing that hot chick you met in the parking lot?
    Etc etc etc.

    Pre-riding the course is a great idea. When I am not familiar with a course, my nerves go all kooky. I don't do well with the "unknown".

    Isolate the concern and do whatever you can to prepare for/practice for/prevent that particular event/issue from happening.

    Also, Ponch is right. The more you race, the less nerves you will have. They may never go away completely. Embrace it. Own it. What fun would it be it you were not just a little nervous..

    Also, get to know a few guys in your field. Have a quick chat with them before you head out. This helps calm my nerves a bit too.

    Remind yourself that you are not "paying the bills" as a racer...hint hint..

    Good luck.
    Last edited by rydbyk; 09-22-2011 at 10:12 AM.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2008
    race day excitement can be a good thing. it will diminish with experience, but you don't want it to go away.

    when going into a race the best thing to do is to know that you are as prepared as you can be, and that your performance on the day is just a stepping stone to other performances. on any given day, any of us can have a bad day and that is perfectly fine especially if it teaches us something!

    if it helps:
    know your bike and it's preparedness
    know your body and it's preparedness
    know your competition (it is awesome to know most of the people you race against, joking on the start line helps!)
    know that your race result only really matters to you, it doesn't change anything, you aren't saving the world.
    set your expectations accordingly.

    race your bike and have fun!!!!!
    Try to be good.

  5. #5
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    Reputation: DavidR1's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Even professional athletes talk about anxiety before they perform. It is natural, but will become easier to deal with the more you race (as others have said).

  6. #6
    Reputation: Crosstown Stew's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Try a sports psychologist if it's really a problem. I had a mental block when I use to pole vault of clearing 16', I could clear it all day with a bungie in practice but at meets I always would have trouble. Worked with a sports psy and within several weeks set a new pr at a meet over 17'.

    But like others have said, the more you race the more comfortable you'll get. After all, it is just another ride when you come down to it.

  7. #7
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    haha, I was looking at my heart rate before my last couple of races, the adrenaline was pumping for sure. I was trying to breathe deep and slow to bring it down, but it was hanging at low 130's. I don't think it effects my racing, but it sure is exciting just standing around waiting for the gun.
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  8. #8
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    I was that way last year. Since last year I have done over 20 races and now that I know what to expect and where I stand in the the field it isn't so bad. How ever I do still find it hard to sleep the night before.
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  9. #9
    SS XC Junkie
    Reputation: dontheclysdale's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Just put some wipes in your back pocket and make sure you leave enough time between your warm up and stagging to stop by the porta-can area. Don't worry, all those guys are having the same problem just make sure you clean up good - hence the wipies.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2007
    Like others have said

    - race a lot
    - make friends and talk to others on the start line
    - on the start line visualize the training you have done to prepare for the race. Imagine yourself cleaning downhills and powering up the hills.
    - Imagine the race over and over in your head. Imagine different scenarios and how you'll react. For example, If I get a flat this it what I'll do...., If I need to pass here this is what I'll do....Try and make this as real as possible think about your heart pounding, smells, taste of your drink or gel.
    - Only think positive thoughts (harder than it sounds). I try to do this the week before any big race. I only think positive and concentrate on the things I want to do and don't let what I DO NOT want to happen enter my mind. For example don't think, I better not crash here.

    I still get nervous at races but it doesn't effect me as much. I used to get so nervous at a race start that after the 3,2,1 GO went off I would feel a huge drop in energy because I wasted so much energy on worrying and being nervous.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Race, A LOT.
    +1. You'll still get the jitters a bit on your priority races, but it will generally take the edge off.

    As far as the pre-race emergent bathroom trips that someone else mentioned, I look forward to them now. I look at it as my body telling me it's ready. It's just an evolutionary process that's part of getting ready to do battle. Besides, it's got to shave off an extra few hundred grams.

  12. #12
    pedal me happy
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    Oct 2009
    I heard once that nervousness and excitment are the same feeling and so when I start feeling nervous
    I tell myself I'm just excited for the race it has helped me. I also try to calm myself down by just
    going out and having fun and not worrying about what place I finish. When I have done this as long
    as my power is good on that day I have a great day racing and finish well. I think when your
    head is calm you do so much better and are able to focus on the course and plan of attack.

  13. #13
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    I dont get nervous because I have ultra low expectations in my racing.......I've done ok in my first season of racing but im def not breaking any records. I keep in mind that its all for fun and that I wont be able to quit my day job anytime soon.....

    I also used to box at the amateur level. If you think a race will make you nervous try stepping into a fight! Your anxiety for that sort of event will be at the highest level.

  14. #14
    Bro is offline
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    I just had my first race yesterday. I went from "hella nervous" to "hella excited" to "oh ****!" within the hours before the race. When we actually started, my nerves got the better of me, and I pushed myself way too hard.

    I ended up washing out on a simple corner, and I couldn't even clean the climb that I've been easily doing all week. Hell, last Thursday I went for a ride with a more senior member on the team. The only reason I didn't completely drop her was because I had no idea where I was going. And then at the race, she won the Women's B Class. I pretty much lost in C Class.

    Towards the end of the race, once the trail started to point down the mountain, I started to chill out, and I was gaining on whoever it was in front of me, even though I was on a 26" hardtail and they were on full-suspension 29ers. But then I dabbled again, and my saddle came loose on the seat post. The bolt on the seat clamp is rounded out, so I didn't bother with fixing it mid-race. I'll just say that spinning 120+ RPM on a singlespeed with a bad saddle position isn't the most fun thing ever.

    When I checked my time, I realized that I've ridden the course faster on normal "fun" rides than during the race. On "fun" rides, I'm relaxed and I go at my own pace. So from now on, I'm going to forget about the number placard in front of my face, ignore the numbers on everyone else, and pretend I'm just out to ride, with a bunch of other people who happen to be riding at the same time.
    Sometimes, I question the value of my content.

  15. #15
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    I am not much of a racer, but just remember like others have said-- it is supposed to be fun, so have fun out there. It is not worth getting worked up over, save that for the important stuff in life. Not bike races. When you get sponsored and start to get a paycheck, then you can get stressed! The last race I did, my nerves and breathing were way out of wack. I just gave it some time and my body seemed to naturally fall into groove while racing. I think the initial start gets me worked up, but it does not last the whole race.

  16. #16
    Reputation: Crosstown Stew's Avatar
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    FWIW having a race strategy can help with nerves and confidence in a lot of new racers. Even if it's really simple like attacking for first 5 mins, find good tempo until last 5 mins, then attacking the finish. At least you've got some kind of plan instead of an immature mentality of "I'm going to give it all see what happens."

    Throw in some race tempo intervals in practice and learn how your body recovers and react under stress as well. Focus on your race plan and don't worry about anything else.

  17. #17
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    My first 3 races were like this and it really effected my starts. This last race, as someone already recommended, I focused on pacing myself and never letting myself get too out of breath or tired (like a funday trail ride). I told myself I would worry about where I was position wise on the 2nd lap and if I could improve on the field, I would.

    It turned into my best race so far with me actually beating a fellow racer to the finish line at the end.

    Try to forget about the placecard as someone said and just focus on having a fun, mistake free race.

    Good luck!!
    People ask me all the time "who beat you up"? I tell them "a tree". They just look at me funny....

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