The perfect race day

11. May 2024

Foto: zVg

Are you a training champion but struggle to achieve your best performance on race day? We've got a few simple and effective tricks for clearing your head before that next race. This way, you can unleash your full potential during the competition.

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to achieve your best performance on the day of a competition. Countless factors can put a spanner in the works that have very little to do with your training preparations. Elite athletes rarely achieve that final, crucial percent needed for a competition through training, diet or recovery: they gain that extra advantage by carefully planning for the competition and trusting in their preparation during the race.

9 tips for a successful race

  1. Clarify the details: however banal it might seem, be aware of all the race details to avoid unpleasant surprises. How will I get to the start on the competition day? What time does the race start? Is it worth getting there early? When and where should I eat my last main meal? What do the route guidance and rules look like? Understanding all of these aspects helps to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  2. Equipment: test your equipment thoroughly beforehand so that you can be sure that it'll work under competition conditions. Keep an eye on the weather and be prepared for all scenarios. Well-prepared athletes have an additional advantage over their competitors in extreme conditions.
  3. Realistic competition goal: if you know how well you are able to perform, you can work out a realistic end time and select your race pace accordingly. This will thus give you the assurance that you won’t start off too fast and still have sufficient energy to get ahead in the second half and enjoy the race.
  4. Acceptance: many factors determine whether your (previously) hidden (realistic) competition goal can be achieved on the competition day. You should scale back on your training in the week before the competition. Your preparations are now complete. Accept your current state of fitness and realistically adapt your goal and tactics accordingly. Remember that there’ll always be another opportunity. This will relax you and remove some of the pressure. In the event that something doesn’t go right during the competition, have a plan B ready that you can follow if things aren’t running smoothly.
  5. Race and nutrition strategy: how will I optimally pace myself? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? When and how will I feed during the race? Successful athletes divide their race into multiple stages in order to perform optimally right the way through and coordinate their nutrition along the way. You should be sure to test this out in training beforehand. This particularly applies to any nutrition offered at the event.
  6. Simulate the competition: ideally, you should visit the course before the competition, simulate the competition conditions on a similar route during your training sessions or take part in other competitions to prepare. This way, you'll get experience for your race and nutrition strategy.
  7. No experiments: the closer the competition date, the more the nerves increase. Instead of reducing their training volume in those final days, many people experiment a lot or try to make up for lost time. While this might feel like a positive step, you'll often pay the price for it during the race. Stick to your training and nutrition plan as well as your race strategy.
  8. Worst-case scenario: Focus on yourself and your training plan, breathe calmly and pay attention to executing your movements. During your training sessions, practice positive thinking whenever negative thoughts arise (e.g. bad weather). And if, despite all the preparations, something goes south during the race: adapt your goal and focus positively on the new conditions.
  9. Anticipation: positive thoughts have a huge impact. No matter whether you couldn’t sleep due to nervousness or could barely eat breakfast. Today is an important day for you – a day in which you have invested a lot. Start the race with joy and enjoy that which you have been training so long for. After all, you want to reach the finish with a smile. Enjoy running to the finishing line Have fun!