Hey Blayze fam! A frequent question I get from our racers is “how do I prepare myself for race weekends?” This is an excellent question because prep work is crucial to a successful race. In reality, if you are waiting until the actual week of the race to start preparing it is likely too late. But, starting late is better than not preparing at all!
I like to split how I prepare for races into two parts:
- Race week prep
- Day of race prep
In this article, I will discuss what my prep work looked like. Use these steps to help you prepare your mind ahead of time.
When I look at race prep, I’m focused on getting the most out of my performance. Performance is broken up into 3 areas:
- Physical Fitness
- Mental Fitness
We are going to take all these into account here! Let’s get started.
Starting the Week Off
My focus heading into a race week was to taper off my hard training days. During the race week I was focused on mostly body weight exercises, light runs or light cycling, and lots of stretching. I was still working hard enough to get a good sweat going but it was more about getting recovered and staying loose so that my body was at 100% going into the race weekend.
My schedule would end up looking something like this:
- Monday: Light 5k run (slower pace) and lots of stretching
- Tuesday: Yoga
- Wednesday: Light warm-up and then rolling out + stretching
As I taper off the strain physically, I increase the amount of time I spend focusing on my mental training. Here is how I would focus on getting ready mentally:
Biofeedback Games: I love working with tools that give me insights into how I am doing. One of my favorites was a simple game that had a large square split up into 100 smaller squares. Within each little square was a number 99 - 0 that was randomly placed. The aim was to click chronologically from 99 down to 0 as fast as you can without making any mistakes.
My prep during race week focused on “finding the zone”. Before I started these games I would go through my usual mental prep as if I were about to hop in the racecar. The great thing here is that there are clear results. It is me vs. me and I can get a lot of reps in.
Visualization: I would ramp up my time spent visualizing laps around the track for that weekend. The most important part here is that I was not just visualizing laps, I was visualizing exactly what I wanted to execute to improve at that racetrack. If I was going to a new track, I would spend a lot of time studying onboard videos on YouTube and trying to visualize what this track would look and feel like from behind the steering wheel.
Meditation: Before I work on the biofeedback games, or before I visualize, I would work on meditation. For me, this meant taking a few minutes to square breathe and try to clear my mind and relax my body. I found this was a critical step that helped me with track performance. I began incorporating this into everything I did.
There are a few ways that I would focus on my technique ahead of a race weekend. If I knew the track, I spent a lot of time studying old onboards and looking at my data from previous years. When possible, I would study my driving vs. my teammates. Then spend more time going through where I could improve.
If you do not have data from other drivers, then I would spend a lot of time on YouTube studying films from credible drivers. Shoutout to my friend, Mike Skeen who has an epic channel for this.
When I am focused on improving my technique, I’m trying to find 1 - 2 things to improve. Once I have those things identified, I work on visualizing what it is going to look like, what it will feel like, etc., to implement on the track.
Race Day Prep
My actual race day prep truly starts the night before when I lay down in bed. Getting enough sleep is one of the single most critical aspects of performing well. I would get at least 9 hours of sleep. That’s what worked best for me. This is an area where we are all a bit different. But you need to be selfish when it comes to your sleep on race week.
As I lay down in bed, I usually spent about 5 minutes meditating and then some visualizing for the next day. I do not just visualize what I want to execute once I get on track. I visualized the entire next day (on fast forward). I liked to know how many sessions, when the sessions were, when I had time to get lunch, when the autograph sessions were, and the time I had leading up to the race. And so on.
By visualizing all this I felt prepared for the entire day ahead.
As I wake up on race day I like to try and get a very light workout in before getting to the track in the morning (unless we have a very early start time). I would do a light 1-mile run at a slow pace and then work on stretching and square breathing.
30 Minutes Before Getting in the Car
The most important thing for me on race day is ensuring I can find a quiet place for about 30 mins or so before I hop in the car. It is this moment and the moment I put my helmet on that are the most important moments for me to perform at my best.
In my quiet time before the race, I had my routine, the same routine I do when I get ready for biofeedback games.
- Go through my mantra phrase. I used a phrase that describes what that “zone” feels like to me. Think about the best race you ever had, and then try to think about what you were feeling like while driving. If you can put a few descriptive words together to describe it, you’ll have your great mantra.
- 2 - 5 minutes of square breathing
- Body scan. Here I would just go from my head down to my toes trying to find any stress or tension I had in my muscles and try to release it. It is amazing how tense your body can be without noticing it - we want to be relaxed so that we can feel the car.
- Last bit of visualizing. I would visualize the race start, a perfect lap, what the conditions are going to be like, etc.
After that, I was ready to go. I knew what I needed to execute. I knew what to expect. Now I needed to get out of my own way to execute.
Getting Into the Car
At this moment, there was no more visualizing. No longer thinking about how to go faster. All that work was complete. Now I could focus on being in the moment. Once I put my helmet on and got in the car, waiting to start, I was doing one thing and only one thing: square breathing.
I wanted to get out of my head. I wanted to clear out all that mental chatter and I wanted to be present. In the moment, on the task at hand, to the exclusion of everything else.
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