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SKATE TIP OF THE WEEK
Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Tamping Down Pre-Race Jitters

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By Morgane Echardour
 

Morgane Echardour preparing to race

Morgane Echardour focuses before a race at the World Championships.
Photo: Peter Doucet
 

I have a Cartesian personality, which makes me strive for certainty in all things. On race day, I like to be prepared down to the smallest detail. Even little things can throw me off. For instance, if I forget my sunglasses, I find it hard to focus.

Given my fastidiousness, I’ve developed some strategies for lowering stress on race day. Of course, things don’t always go as planned. But by following these tips, I’m more likely to be ready to roll when it’s time to go.

1) Arrive early.

Sometimes there’s no choice. You have to drive all night to get to a race or you have to camp out or sleep in your car. But if possible, try to arrive the day before you race. Check into a hotel, which you’ve booked in advance, and get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel much better in the morning.

2) Know where you’re going.

I've been on many — many! — trips in which my travel companions and I got lost on the morning of the race. This is always stressful. The more lost I am, the more I feel my comfort zone shink, along with my warm-up time.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, study your map before you hit the road. And don’t put your faith in a GPS. They can give faulty directions, lose their signal or run our of juice. (Check your batteries.)

3) Have your equipment ready to go.

Do an equipment check on the day before you race. Make sure you’ve packed your race bearings and wheels. I always bring along my rain wheels and bearings, even if the forecast is for dry weather. I pack my wheels and bearings, along with my skinsuit, in my skate bag, which I never let out of sight. I also bring some extra safety pins to use to attach my racing bibs in case the organizers run out.

Whatever you do, don't check your skate bag with your luggage at the airport. Luggage sometimes gets lost, and racing without your skates is going to be difficult.

4) Pre-register & pick up your race kit.

The minutes leading up to a race are key to controlling stress. There are lots of things you can do — for one, pre-register. Not only will it save you money, but it will be one less thing you have to worry about on the day of the race.

Even if you do pre-register, arrive at the race early so you have ample time to pick up your race kit. Once you have it, put your bibs on right away. This can head off any last minute panic. And put your chip on as well, so you don’t start without it.

5) Pre-race: warm up & focus.

Give yourself enough time to do a full warm-up, whatever that means for you.

A warm-up not only prepares your body but tends to reduce stress. I like doing a 10-minute run followed by 10 to 15 minutes of dynamic stretches and finally a short warm-up on skates.

As part of my warm up, I like to listen to some pump-up songs on my iPod. Listening to them helps me focus and cuts stress. Lots of skaters have their favorite pump-up songs. Mine include: "Ali in the Jungle" by the Hours, "Wavin' Flag" by K'Naan and "Electric Feel" by MGMT.

If you don't listen to music, you might want to try reading some motivational quotes, for instance: “The only one who can tell you 'you can't’ is you. And you don't have to listen."- Nike.

Another thing that helps me before a race is a warm-up partner. For me, this is often my good friend Sarah. Before a race, we talk about strategy and calm each other down.

On the other hand, some skaters don't like to talk before a race. They need solitude to get in the "zone." If that’s you, let your friends know ahead of time. Tell them that you will able to talk after the race.

6) Review your goals.

Even if you’re just skating for fun, it's a good idea to have a goal for your race. It could be as simple as just finishing. Just make sure your goals are realistic so you don't get discouraged.

7) Enjoy.

You’ve worked hard. You’re prepared. So remember to enjoy your race. You've earned it.

(July 9, 2010)

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Morgane Echardour is a member of the Speed Skate World Racing Team and the 2009 NROC Champion. Born and raised in France, she started skating at the age of eight. She moved to Canada as a teenager and has represented Canada in two world championships. She holds the Canadian national record in the 15 km on the road (27:21.02). She lives in Mississauga and enjoys graphic and industrial design, painting, cycling, cooking and racing.

Speed Skate World web site
 

 

 

Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating

 

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