Endurance Skating

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Signing In The Rain… Mastering Race Day Conditions

wet

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

This is the mantra that I have adopted when it comes to dealing with the weather on race day. On the start line you have no control over anything except how you well you skate given the conditions that Mother Nature has betrothed to you on that particular day in history. Those who complain that the conditions are not perfect or somehow let it get inside their head are destined to underperform. This year alone I have witnessed difficult conditions break the will of skaters far better and more experienced than myself.

Understand that coping with race day conditions is part and parcel of racing. Embrace whatever the weather throws up and think how you can use it to your advantage; the power of positive thinking will give you a massive edge if you make the most of it. We can’t do anything about the conditions, so why fret about it? Far better to devote our energies more productively and focus on what we can do to ensure that we race at our best. Look ahead to race day – imagine the very worst conditions that can be thrown your way, and then do whatever you need to do to ensure that you can handle that scenario.

A part of my race day ritual now is that I say: “Whatever the conditions are today… I have planned and prepared to ensure that I can make the best use of them – therefore these are the best conditions for me!”

In my mind, here’s how it works:

  • Rain- Let’s get this one out of the way straight away. I’m not afraid to race in the rain. I’ve pushed myself to train in the rain when others have stayed at home, and I have many more miles of wet weather skating than most others who will only train in the dry. The rain is not my master and it doesn’t dictate my training schedule. If it’s wet, I have a large advantage because of my preparation, therefore these are the best conditions for me!

  • Heat- I’ve already written about Heat Acclimation and why it is a good idea for all race conditions. I go out of my way to actively skate and exercise during summer, often at the hottest part of the day. In addition, my Asian genes mean that I’m better equipped for handling heat and humidity than most. So if it’s hot, then good – these are the best conditions for me!

  • Wind – If it’s windy then you better believe that I’m going to be looking for the largest, tallest, widest skater who fits the bill to draft behind. I’m going to let them tow me around for as long as they can before moving onto the next victim and repeating. When it’s windy then be prepared because it means that I’m going to outrace you – so these are the best conditions for me!
  • Cold – Yes, it has sometimes been freezing cold during races I have competed in – overnight at LeMans and RAPS 24hr races immediately spring to me. That’s OK, because I’ll be skating and not resting or giving myself the excuse to cool down and get cold. That’ll be someone else’s problem. And did you know that Heat Acclimation helps increases your performance in the cold? So if it’s cold then these are the best conditions for me!

  • Ideal Conditions – If it’s ideal skating conditions then… great! Given the choice we’d all prefer for those ideal conditions and I’m no exception, so if it’s dry, still, and not too hot and not too cold, then that is what I wanted… therefore, these are the best conditions for me!!

Of course, you have to be honest enough with yourself. Make sure you you actually *have* taken the time and effort to put in some wet weather mileage in training; make sure you have storm surges and know exactly what kit you are going to wear; and have a plan to keep your socks and your feet as dry as possible. Make sure that you actually *have* taken some effort to acclimate to the heat.

It comes down to preparation and planning – don’t leave anything to chance. Circling around in the dark on a solo training session on a cold and wet January evening is not much fun, but I’m firmly of the belief that the value of such session is worth MANY times that of an ordinary fair weather session, and just a couple of such sessions at the start of the season will stand you in very good stead. It’s something in the locker you have that only you can draw on during the toughest point of the race and hang on to – that’s an important competitive advantage. Prepare, plan, and embrace whatever race day throws your way. Master the conditions.. don’t let them master you, and you will be able to say: “whatever the conditions are… I *know* these are the best conditions for me!

 

If you didn't embrace the rain, then LeMans was a miserable race for you.

"Whatever the condition.... these are the best conditions for me!"

“Whatever the condition…. these are the best conditions for me!”

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One comment on “Signing In The Rain… Mastering Race Day Conditions

  1. JC
    August 22, 2014

    Great mindset to have Van! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 22, 2014 by in Mental and tagged , , , .

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