By Morgane Echardour
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...