How to perfect your event day routine for a race or sportive

A relaxed morning routine on the day of an event or race will improve your chances of giving your best performance, explains Vicky Ware

What you do the morning before a sportive could have a big impact on how you perform during the day. Gran fondo and long-distance event expert Mike Cotty stepped in to give us some advice on what to do on the morning of a big ride. “My routine is always the same when preparing for a big ride — I like to get as much as I can ready the night before. This means laying my kit out, getting my food ready and making sure my bike is ready.”

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Some events start really early, making it tempting to get up as close to the gun as possible to get an extra hour in bed. But getting up early is a formula for success, advises Cotty: “I’ll get up at least three hours before the event so that breakfast has time to digest and I have plenty of time to get ready in a relaxed way and make any final preparations. I normally save adding any energy powder to bottles until the morning so that they are as fresh as possible.”

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Remember to factor in the time it takes to get to your event as you don’t want to be rushing due to traffic or roadworks.

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The essentials

  • Prepare the night before
  • Get up three hours before the event starts
  • Relax in the morning
  • Eat a big breakfast
  • Sleep well in the week leading up to the event

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It can be difficult to stomach food early in the morning, with pre-race nerves kicking in; getting up early gives you plenty of time to eat. Cotty makes sure he’s well fuelled pre-ride: “My staple breakfast on the day of a big ride is a hearty bowl of porridge topped with fresh or dried fruit. If I need to top up my energy before the event, then I’ll snack on fruit.”

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Sleep is crucial to performance, but it can be hard to achieve the night before the big ride, with nerves and limited hours in bed due to an early call time. “It’s always difficult for me to have a good night’s sleep the night before,” admits Cotty, “so it’s even more important to ensure that I can get enough sleep in the days leading up to the ride.”

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Being well prepared is one way to ensure a restful night. “I can’t switch off my mind until I know that all the preperation is done, and then I slowly run through things in my head, going through my mental checklist to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything — getting everything done the night before definitely helps me to feel more relaxed and ready the following day,” Cotty concludes.

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Key points

Make sure you know the event details before the morning of your ride. There’s no way you’ll be able to feel relaxed, or eat properly, before the event if you’re running around trying to find sign-on.

Eating early also ensures you have enough time to make any ‘nature calls’ you may need before the event starts. Digestive issues are a common complaint in endurance events and can put a real downer on your day.

Don’t make any last-minute bike changes on race day. Put those thoughts of changing your saddle height down to race-day nerves, and focus on eating well and getting to the start line focused on your performance.

It might be cold at 7am when you start your foreign gran fondo, but don’t forget the sun cream. You’ll be out in the hottest part of the day, possibly at altitude; sun protection is a must.

Getting ready can be a mucky business — so take some time to freshen up before the start. Wash your hands free of sun cream and toast crumbs to feel as fresh as possible for the ride.

Eat as soon as you get up so your meal isn’t sitting in your stomach on the start line. Eggs and porridge make great long-lasting fuels, if you can stomach them.

Get to the start of your event in plenty of time. If you’re staying nearby, great; if not, plan enough time to get parked and find the start line.