Most people, if they are honest, get nervous. Nerves are normal. Nerves are fine. Nerves show that you care about what you are about to undertake. There is a quote I heard once that I always try to remember on event days. It is:
‘Physical strength will get you to the start line, but mental strength will get you to the finish line.’
I would say that my mental game is not that strong and something I could work on, however, with experience I have gained over recent years I would offer the following 3 tips both for during training and on event day itself:
1.Set yourself a goal. It is key to remember that everyone’s goals are different and that is ok! Some will be going for PB, some for the win, some to enjoy it, some to finish and whatever your goal is, it is good to have that in mind and plan accordingly so you do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself and end up comparing yourself with others. Smaller goals in the lead up to your main goal are also a good way of keeping focused. Whatever your goal, do it for you and no one else.
2. Training. Once you have your goal you can plan your training accordingly. Your training should be realistic. Consistency is key and you will benefit hugely from incorporating strength and conditioning (leg and core strength are key to endurance riding). Rest days are part of the process too – don’t ignore the importance of allowing your body rest and recovery. I keep a training diary where I log my training and keep note specifically if I have a good or bad session so I can adapt as needed. Not all sessions will be good, but you just dust yourself off and try again. I also fuel with nutrition through training that I will be using on event day as you want to know what works for you. Trust your training on event day and enjoy the ride! I have a blog post on training for an endurance event that you can read here.
3. Be flexible.
My husband once told me that the circumstances on the day dictate your performance and I have learned through events with terrible weather that this is very true, and it is so important to be able to adapt if necessary. Things like weather or mechanical issues are out of your control and you shouldn’t waste your energy on things like this but instead adapt and overcome. For longer rides I would advise breaking down the mileage, yes you are still doing the same overall distance but breaking down to smaller milestones is more manageable to process and will not seem as overwhelming.