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Pre-race jitters

Tips on dealing with pre-race jitters before an event

This past week I did the Volta ao Algarve, one the most important cycling races in the Portuguese cycling calendar and I had some pre-race jitters. The athlete that tells you they don't get nervous before an important (or dangerous) event is lying. Here Tony Martin winning Volta ao Algarveare my suggestions for dealing with nervousness:

Recognise your limits, don't over reach. Don't set unrealistic goals, if on the day you fall a little short of your goal be content you've tried your best, reassess the situation and pursue different objectives.

Don't set goals relative to other individuals, but set them relative to yourself. There are a million different thing that affect human performance and while you may have a grasp of factors affecting your own performance, you 'll have no idea what's going on in another athlete, even if you train together every day.

A stable life away from competition is also important. If you have problems in other areas of life, you simply wont perform optimally, you'll be thinking about things.

Organisation. If you are more or less organised and have your eye on all the variables that affect performance, you are far less likely to get unlucky, since you'll avoid most problems. Here's a short list of thing to keep organised:

  • Diet.Do a weekly shop and avoid buying things that will harm your perform.
  • Sleep.Keep your sleep patterns consistent.
  • Training.Try your absolute best
  • Keep your equipment in excellent condition, never forgetting that a bike (or any other equipment) is a tool to work.
  • Discipline.Being neat and tired so you don't need to worry about finding things, or their condition.
  • Letting loose when necessary, using planned breaks (off-season) to do so. Most athletes are incredibly highly strung and need this.


Severe diets, training sprees, doing with out, are all bad things when it comes to human performance. Seek lifestyle changes, rather than rules; prefer to train well year round, than only before big events, prefer good food over hamburgers, have a beer or glass of wine if you feel like it, but not more. This will help your over all state of confidence.

I've only learnt how to deal with this in the past three years, as a late starter at the age of 20 I found it very hard to acquire the skills to race -but I got there. The main thing I learnt to do was I must control fear and expectation


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