Episode #9 – 4 Steps to a Stress Free Race Day

Episode #9 – 4 Steps to a Stress Free Race Day

Stress Free Race Day

Race day can be very stressful, between registration, trying to remember all your equipment and warm-ups, it’s hard to stay focussed. This episode details everything you need to help build a solid pre-race routine to make your race day stress free.

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Lance-and before it really began it was over. He made his play by not challenging the USADA and the outcome was rapid.

There is no doubt in my mind that he’s guilty, and by not entering into the battle he gets to control (somewhat) his message and legacy. This move, which is just like every other defence against this issue is claim an unfair fight, rather than his innocence. Just like this outcome, his legacy in cycling and cancer awareness, is left up to you and me to decide. Personally, I have never donated to his foundation or worn a yellow wristband. Does this make me any less a supporter if I continue to not donate. I’m not sure, but I know one thing, I will never defend him to non-cyclists.

And what about our sport? Where does it leave cycling? Cycling moved on long ago, it’s only the non-believers that waiver and make noise, the real believers just get on with it. As long as there is a love for riding itself there will be support for pro-cycling. One other interesting take on the entire issue of doping is, have we had a clean peloton this year? GB could be benefiting from a clean peloton and a clean culture, their methods have shone bright this year, is it a coincidence or is it just their time?

Back to Lance, I never considered him a cheater, but the developments over the past 2 years indicate that there is no way that he is not. Put it down to naivety or selective ignorance or not caring enough, it wasn’t until watching Tyler Hamilton’s interview on 60 Minutes that my mind was made up. It was raw and it was real. This was not a man that talked lightly about his own legacy, let alone the pressure of bringing down an American hero. As to the man himself, my final statement on the matter is a question to you. If he’s innocent, then he’s a man that has been done wrong by, and we can stand behind him 100%,

if he is guilty of the charges, then is he calculating, manipulative and most importantly unremorseful…you decide.

I was going to do a Vuelta wrap up cause it has been awesome racing. Unfortunalty Lance’s shadow cast itself over this week’s podcast. I will get back to you about the race next week.

4 Steps to a Stress Free Race Day

We are going to look at tweaking your pre-race routine. Any race day can be stressful, especially if there is something big on the line, your performance on the day is dependent on three factors; your physical and nutritional preparation, your mental preparation and your pre-race warm-up. Putting time into planning your pre-race routine will save vital energy from being sucked away by wasted time and effort. Ultimately it would be great if someone could do this for us, but we are semi-pros not pros, so we need to take it into our owns hands to enusre our systems are tight. Having a system in place ensures that nothing is left to chance, it also allows us build habits that protect us from unplanned events. The system below is built on my experience in self supported races, meaning I’m the person getting everything ready, no soigners here.

My main here is to list out all the elements involved so you can get an idea of the level of detail involved in putting together a complete pre-race plan. It’s a comprehensive list so don’t be overwhelmed. In the next few weeks I will be bundling it all up into Race Day Pack with checklists and warm-ups so you can map out and customise your pre-race routine.

1. Home Base

Night before

Shower: Don’t waste energy showering on the day of the race.
Pre-Race Routine Checklist


  • Tuned
  • Cleaned
  • Checked
  • Packed


  • Race wheels: Check PSI
  • Spare wheels: Check PSI

Tools and Spares:

  • Tool kit ready packed
  • Floor pump
  • Hand pump
  • Tubes
  • Tire levers

Warm up:

  • Ergo or rollers
  • Cotton balls and oil
  • Breathe right
  • Embrocation cream
  • Towel


  • Before/After casual socks, shoes, pants, top and jacket
  • Before/After socks, shoes, leg warmers, arm warmers, jacket
  • Race: Jersey, knicks, gloves, helmet, socks & undershirt


  • Before/during/after


  • Before/during/after


  • Licence
  • Money

Set the following schedule times

  • Bed time for optimum sleep.
  • Wake up time to eat breakfast on time.
  • Breakfast time to leave enough digestion time.
  • Leave house with plenty of time to travel to race.
  • Start/finish warm up time to leave enough time to get to start line.
  • Race time so you can plan your warm-up and don’t miss the start.

2. Race Day


Race Site


  • Confirm start time and set your watch to this time.
  • Pin number on race clothes and/or bike.

Prepare you gear

  • Set up bike
  • Set up warm-up
  • Ergo
  • Towel
  • Drink
  • Post warm-up food

3. Warm up

It’s the one thing that can most likely break your race if not done right, or at all.

Most days pro road riders hop out of their team bus and roll to the start line without a warm-up, but before the time trials, mountain bike races, crits and ‘cross where it’s necessary to bust out from the gun at peak effort, the riders warm up. I want to take a closer look at warm ups because they are the 80/20 of the pre-race routine. I am going to focus on the elements surrounding your warm-up rather than the warm-up itself. I am saving that for next time because it deserves it’s own episode.

Here you will find a list of useful ideas and tools for a better warm up. While yes you are going to need a trainer, ergo, rollers, whatever you use, there are some other things that help in certain situations such and hot and cold weather.
Let’s start with the weather: The colder the day, the longer you would want the warm-up to be. You will be wearing layers of clothes, strip these off as you warm up.

Hot weather

  • Electric fans
  • Warm up legs while keeping their cores cool is very important. Warm up for all out efforts from the gun by wearing an ice    vest. Keeping the core cool despite effort  gets the muscles primed without overly taxing the cardiovascular system. Cadel,  Sylvain Chavanel, Tony Martin all use them. You could use an ice sock or fork up the $250 for an ice vest.

Cold weather

  • Embrocation

Integrate nutrition as part of the warm-up:

  • Finish 1 bidon, and coffee an hour before the start time and keep sipping on another while you warm up.


  • This may sound dumb but we all know it, a computer that runs from your rear wheel
  • Now have you seen the pros warming up with cotton balls shoved up their noses? Or Chris Froome riding this years tour prologue (by mistake mind you). The warm-up nose plugs are cotton balls soaked in Olbas oil which are used to keep the airways open. It opens the sinuses to help breathing and that it helped clear stuffy noses. The oil is a decongestion oil made with Cajaput Oil, Clove Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Juniperberry Oil, Levonmenthol, Dementholised Mint Oil and Wintergreen Oil. All these natural ingredients clear the sinuses and airways so you can breathe in the necessary oxygen for a proper performance. The team masseur will prepare the cotton wool with the Olbas Oil when he gives the riders their pre-race massage, then the riders will warm up on the turbo trainers so that they are ready to perform. Why? It’s the oxygen that makes the muscles work so you have to have efficient breathing to keep riding at top speed. There are other similar products that also clear the nostrils, but Olbas Oil is the best known.

While I’m the topic of breathing and noses, if you use Breathe Right make sure you put it on before you even break a sweat. It won’t stay on properly otherwise. Also one other tip, tape your warm-up to your top tube.

The practicalities of warm up is an article that is a great place start when planning the system around your warm-up. I have copied there list below.

1. Have a routine that prepares you physically and mentally
2. Set your watch to the “official” race time so you won’t be late.
3. Time your warm-up to finish about ten minutes before your race start.
4. Know where the start is, and how long it will take to get there. Factor this into the warm-up.
5. Give yourself a 5 minute cushion to get to the starting area, make sure you are sweating (but towel off after the warm-up)
6. Sit alone or roll around and focus on the effort, thinking about the desired wattage and heart rates for the effort you are about to put forth
7. Arrive at the line ready to go.

Post warm up:

  • Set up bike: Change wheels after warm-up.
  • Toilet and change clothes
  • Embrocation/massage

4. Race

  • Arrive at start line or staging area
  • Stay focussed on your race and limit interaction with others.

And your away! Like I said at the start there is a lot that goes into a your pre-race routine so don’t be overwhelmed at this stage. I am going to put all this information together in a pack so you can really experiance stress free race days!




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