THE RACE PLAN - By Kevin Hansen
The first thing every racer should do to prepare for a race is to set specific goals. They should be realistic and attainable. Planning on winning the Boston Marathon when youíve only been racing 3 years is unrealistic. But planning on going under 1:40 might be attainable. Another goal might be to get some good drafting experience or to plan on being with a certain group of racers at Heartbreak Hill, knowing you are a better hill climber and will then be able to dust them. Winning a particular race may not be a realistic goal for you. But by meeting YOUR individual goals you gain a personal victory which will improve your confidence and enable you to step up to the next level of performance. After youíve decided what your specific goals for a given race are - you can develop a plan which will enable you to meet them.
If you want to win a major event you have to plan to win. Rarely is a race won because of dumb luck, yet many well known wheelchair racers enter competitions without effective planning. How many times do you hear ``Oh I would've won if my buddy had been there to block" or ``I would've won if so & so had taken a pull"! In racing should've & would've DON'T COUNT!!! The racer who wins consistently has conceived, commited to, and executed a race plan. And that plan probably took into account several different contingencies.
To conceive an effective race plan you have to do some home work. Find out everything you can about the course, the usual and predicted weather for the date of the race, who is expected to compete, etc. Study any video tape that is available or articles that have been written about the race. Tour the course as thoroughly as possible as many times as possible. Examine strategic points along the course where gaps might be made, especially the last few hundred meters to the finish. Many races have been lost by well known racers whoíve neglected to adequately tour a given course.
Weeks before a race try to picture yourself racing and put all the other people from the race in your mind. Picture every possible situation that you might find yourself in...behind someone, boxed in, being bumped from behind or the side, different positions, laps or meters to go, and of course the final stretch. Imagine what you can do to counter any situation. Write all the possibilities down. Then as the race date gets closer visualize all the possible situations - but Always picture yourself winning the race - no matter what! If you accidentally picture yourself losing, ERASE that picture out of your mind and picture yourself winning. This practice should alleviate some pre-race nervousness and it WILL give you confidence.