Preparing to Race Gravel
Getting Ready for the Race
Part 1: How to Create Goals
The first race of the year is officially 1 week away! As always, time has gone by fast, and it doesn’t seem that long ago when I was lining up for my last race of the 2023 season. But this is different, this will be my first ever gravel race! I have a lot of feelings going into this first race. I am excited, nervous, anxious, but mostly, I am excited to see what I can do. In the past, I go into every race with high expectations of myself. I normally will make a list of goals with my coach as well as personal goals of what I want to accomplish at each race. However, with this race being my first gravel race, I am not sure what to expect or what are realistic goals for me to have? It is hard to have specific performance goals as I don’t have much to go on. This is hard for me as I am very goal-orientated, and I hold myself to a high standard. I have put a lot of time and effort into training this winter and I want to prove that I can be competitive in the gravel scene. But I also need to be realistic that, in my first race, I can’t expect everything to go perfectly or to have my best performance. So, with all that in mind, I want to dedicate this blog post on how I am creating goals to get mentally prepared for my first gravel race!
Firstly, changing my mindset is difficult, especially when you are a competitive and a performance-orientated person like me. It took some reflection to come up with my goals for this race. The big thing for me was to frame my idea of success in a different way. Normally, success to me is winning, like for everyone else we want to win, and we want to be the best. But when you don’t know what to expect, you need to be a bit more realistic. So, I have changed my idea of success, success right now is being brave and making the switch to competing in gravel, taking the time to make sure my equipment is prepped and ready, studying the courses and making a game plan, visualizing myself racing, practicing skills that take me out of my comfort zone, and giving 110% every time I get on the bike. Those are all things that I have done that I am proud of and not one of those things is winning the race. Saying that, of course I want to win, and I will do everything I can to do so. However, shifting my mindset to process goals rather than just the result has made me feel more relaxed and recognize what I have done so far that I can be proud of. A lot of the time, I have a hard time celebrating the little things I have done because, for most of my life, my goals were all centered around winning and being the best. Moving through the race season, I will keep making focused goals and focus on controlling the controllable and accepting the mistakes along the way. I have listed my goals for my first race, which are goals that I will carry on throughout the year. Although some will change or evolve with different races, such as when I want to peak at a specific race or how to mentally prepare for a race like Unbound. Here are the goals!
- Control the controllable.
- Be proud to be at the start line, this is the start of something new.
- Make sure my bike, wheels and tires are ready. Eliminate any extra stress.
- Follow the best, do everything I can to stay with them.
- Ask questions.
- Take the positives and failures from each day and look how I can change what I did to be better for the next day.
- Don’t leave anything behind, push!
The good thing is that there are three stages, and three days to change things and recognize the things that went well. This could be pacing, nutrition, tire pressure, or technical sections on the course. I always go back to my favorite quote, “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” I often think that this not only sums up life but cycling, as no hard effort or race lasts forever. Just remind yourself to keep pushing as no feeling is final. If you have read all of this, thank you! And feel free to use any of my goals for your upcoming race.
Part 2 of how to get race ready will be up next week with a more in-depth look at the course and my tactical plan and bike set up for the race. Stay tuned!