To race well you need a proper plan, as it's not enough only to be prepared physically. The mental preparation is at least as important!
Here's three essential aspect for mountainbike XCO race planning, that will prepare you for a good performance.
Remember that just like you need to train your anaerobic threshold, VO2max and power, you also need to train your mental capacity for racing well on the mountainbike!
This preparation is best done the day before a race!
RACE PLAN: You need to write down a race plan with main focus points for each lap of the race. This will help you to keep focused on every single lap, and throughout the entire race. Below is what a race plan could look like:
Lap #1: I want to get quickly and smooth into pedals, and stay at the front on the start loop. I will ride aggresively but also with a high focus on riding technically safe. After the intense start, I want to settle into a solid pace and find rythm on the track.
Lap #2: I want to find my own race pace with a strong pedal stroke on the climbs and good bike handling skills on downhills and technical sections.
Lap #4: I will attack the climbs and ride a lot out of the saddle, to keep my pace high and stay focused. Further good bike handling skills is high priority!
Lap #5: I will leave it all out there. It's time to open up, and fight all the way to the finish line.
FIGHT-WORD: You need to find a'fight-word' og a'fight-sentence' that will keep you focused througout the entire race, and further can help you to refocus if you for example make a technical mistake og loose you mental drive. So choose a word og sentence that can be repeated again and again, to either keep focus og refocus! E.g. repaet to your self 'push, push, push......' og 'I can do this, I can do this.......'!
MENTAL RACE SIMULATION: Lie down in a comfortable position og sit in a comfy chair for 10-15 minutes. Focus on controlled breathing and then simulate your race mentally. Go through each lap of the race, and imagine how you want it to be, and what you need to focus on to make a good performance!
How do you want the start of the race to be?
What lines are you going to ride on uphills and downhills?
What gear/cadence to choose on different parts of the track?
Where to take in water and energy?
Other important aspect to consider?