Mental Preparation – Utilise Pre-event nerves

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

In the first of this series, Alan Heary explained the importance of mental preparation for your cycling and the practical ways you can achieve the right mindset through goal setting.

In this instalment, Alan details practical ways a rider can utilise pre-event nerves…


How can a cyclist tackle or utilise pre-event nerves?

Pre-event nerves can be a vital part of any preparation. Adrenaline and endorphins begin to kick in and it can be a great way to feel ready for your event. However if these pre-event nerves aren’t kept in check they can creep up to become more of a hindrance than a help.

Imagine an arousal scale between 0 to 10 where 0 is sleep and 10 is blind panic. As you prepare for your event your arousal level rises. At about 6 on the scale you find yourself focused, motivated and physically ready. This could be considered the zone state. Any less than 6 and you don’t put in the effort required to perform at your best while anything above 6 and you begin to lose focus and your mind is jumping all over the place as you begin to feel less in control and more anxious.

So the question becomes, how can I get to 6 and stay there?


Here is what you need to do if you feel you’re slipping too high up the scale:

  • If you feel like you have butterflies in the tummy take a moment to imagine that you can make them fly in formation. Now you have control!
  • Take control of your breathing by consciously taking in a breath and breathing out slowly. Some cyclists find it useful to imagine they are breathing in blue energized air while breathing out red tension.
  • Muscles become tense when we are anxious so take control by using progressive relaxation. First tense up your legs, take in a deep breath and as you breathe out relax the muscles in your legs. Do the same for your upper body, tense shoulders arms and make two fists. Take a deep breath and then release the tension.
  • To stop the negative chatter that can begin to happen with pre-race nerves use positive self talk – “I am Strong” “ I am fast.”
  • Spend some time before your race to visualise what you want to do in the race. See yourself moving up the bunch, climbing easily up the hill or sprinting to the line.


Next time, Alan will share his advice on how to recover from a cycling setback.