How to Prepare for an Event
“Whether you’re doing an event for the first time, you’re an old hand aiming to achieve a P.B. or at the top of your game going for a win you can never be too prepared for a big race” says Ironman athlete Amanda Till. Follow Amanda’s guide to preparation for an event or race and you’ll be crossing the finish line with a big grin on your face before you know it.
One month prior to the event
* At this stage you need to have your training schedule really buttoned down and you need to stick to it as much as possible. However, don’t forget that putting in a rest day is an essential part of your training schedule as well.
* The training you do should obviously be focused on the distance and intensity of event you are doing.
* You should ensure you’re going to peak for your main event and not too early (or too late!). In fact going into an event slightly underdone is better than heading to race day feeling you’re your body is cooked!
* In this last month you should be doing at least one ride that is close to the distance or time and intensity of race day, 2 or 3 weeks out from the event.
* On your long rides you should be consuming the same type of nutrition you are planning to consume on race day. This will help to ensure your are training with energy, aid recovery and that there are no surprises for your system come race day. (See our article on quality training nutrition).
One week prior to the event
* It’s time to taper. With the race just a few days away you’re not going to achieve much by training really hard. It’s more of a recovery week to ensure you’re in the best condition when the start gun goes.
* 4 to 6 days before the event, train each day with a moderate intensity for a short to moderate distance. If you usually do interval training then still include some ½ distance interval sessions in your training.
* At this stage reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase protein and fat content slightly to keep your calories up in preparation for carbo loading from day 3.
* 2 to 3 days before the race take one or two rest days. Begin carbo loading with rice and pasta so you maximize the amount of glycogen in your muscles come race day. Resting prevents the glycogen being burnt off as you load up.
* Make sure you get your bike and other equipment in order during this week. Don’t leave it all to the last day before the race as it will increase stress on a day where you should be relaxing. A quick visit to your bike shop workshop for a check-over can prevent anxiety on race day. Don’t forget to included checking your race wheels if they have been stored away for a while.
One day prior to the event
* Know where you’re going and get there in plenty of time to get registered and get your event bag. If you get lost or delayed and arrive late it will create added nerves and unnecessary stress.
* Aim to go for an easy ride for 30 to 60 minutes with a few sprints once you have warmed up. This helps prepare the body for racing. A complete rest on the last day before the event can result in you feeling flat on race day.
* Prepare a checklist. This will avoid you forgetting something important. Like your bike.
* Get your event/race clothing and gear ready to go including tools, shoes, helmet, gloves, tubes, extra parts and anything else you might need.
* Get your event nutrition prepared (except your drink which should be prepared on race morning).
* Pre-pack your post-event clothing and food. You can’t rely on event food supplies to be sufficient and you will more than likely be hungry after the race. Eating within the first 30 to 60mins after you complete your event starts the recovery process.
* Spend some time relaxing, have a good, substantial healthy meal that’s mostly carbohydrate and go to bed nice and early.
Race day/event day
* Have a substantial, but not too large, mostly carbohydrate breakfast ideally 2 to 3 hours before the start. Examples are: Muesli with yoghurt and banana; or toast, honey and bananas with a glass of milk. However don’t try anything new only eat what has been trialled and tested!
* Drink plenty of water. Also prepare your drink bottles/ hydration pack for during the race.
* Get your mind in a positive and competitive mental state. This is most important to a successful and enjoyable ride. Remember it’s supposed to be fun, not a grind.
* Get your gear, nutrition and your bike and get to the start nice and early.
* When the race starts go for it – and enjoy!