By Kristin Keim
I’m sure many of you have some pre-race rituals or lucky charms that you do or like to have either before or during a race… don’t be shy. Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that I used to have a pair of “lucky” race socks that I had to wear during important road races…they gave me a sense of extra confidence as I faced the long race ahead. Think back to any of the your own rituals or routines…maybe you like to eat a specific pre-race dinner, breakfast, or listen to a certain playlist as you warm-up…these are all aspects that can be incorporated into your own Pre-Performance Routine (PPR).
Over the past few months I have had the wonderful opportunity to share my passion for Sport Psychology with an amazing group of beginner and professional level athletes. I am truly grateful to have worked with all the women racers as well as the director of Team Velo Girls, Lorri Lee Lown. Development programs and clinics, like those run by Lorri Lee, are important for women and men who are interested in competitive cycling. These types of programs allow both entry and seasoned riders to learn the basics of both physical and mental preparation that will increase their confidence as they kit up and pedal to their first starting line, while also enabling them to tap into their inner athlete.
Speaking of inner athlete, throughout this experience I became aware of how important it was for athletes to not only be physically and mentally prepared to race but to actually learn the proper tools of how to create a PPR. Most of the athletes I worked with were preparing for their first season of racing or had only been racing for a year, so it was important to look at the advantages of starting a PPR that could enable them to stay focused and motivated.
Pre-Performance Routines can enable you to be completely prepared physically, tactically, technically, and mentally to perform at your optimal level. It’s also important to focus on creating routines that that will have you fully prepared for both training and competition as these routines will help strengthen your ability to expect the unexpected and stay focused on what’s in your control.
PPR’s allow you to develop consistency, where you can train the mind and body to respond the same way regardless of the situation. You want to include all the necessary tools that will allow you to be fully prepared, inspired, and excited to race your best! How do I go about creating a PPR? Well, let’s start with the 3 P’s to a PPR:
1. Make it Personal: Focus on aspects that will help increase your Confidence and Motivation. Maybe look at your Goals for the race and any good luck charms (lucky socks) that might provide an additional confidence boost.
2. Make it Positive: Your PPR should empower you to not only feel prepared but to also provide you with a sense that no matter what you might focus on is in your control (like having your bike, bottles, race bag, and directions ready the night before) so when you get to the race all you have to do is pin on your number, warm-up and go full throttle in the race! Being ready will allow you to enjoy the moment and lessen the Anxiety that you might be feeling on race day. Hopefully that playlist of Lady Gaga, Death Cab for Cutie or whatever floats your boat will put you in an optimistic mood as you Center your energy before the start.
3. Make it Productive: You will also want to look at making your PPR consistent, realistic and flexible. Make sure to practice your PPR on training days as well as race days. Practice really does make perfect…it’s not rocket science or brain surgery.
*Below is a simple format that you can utilize on your iPhone, computer, or in the old fashion way…a PPR Journal:
Night before competition –
Early in Day –
At Competition Site –
Final Preparation –
And remember… Races are not won on the day you compete, but rather in the days, weeks, and months leading up to the race.
Now go race prepared with fire in your heart.
“When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” – Suzuki
Kristin Keim is a graduate student at John F. Kennedy University where she is currently working on her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. After racing a couple of seasons as a Cat 1 road cyclist on the NRC circuit, Kristin decided that it was time to pursue a new adventure in life and is now studying to become a Sport Psychologist. Her main focus is to help her fellow athletes become more aware of the mental tools they can use to reach their full athletic potential. Follow her on Twitter – @thek2
Photos: Leonard Basobas/LB Photos