Finding My Groove

by Russell Finsterwald

It may only be the first week of April, but my race season is already fully underway. Thus far I’ve raced the Bonelli Park Pro XCT, Fontana Pro XCT and the Pan American Championships in Cota, Colombia. Each race has gone better than the last and I feel like I am getting into a good groove.

Russell leads a chase group at the Pan American Championships in Cota, Columbia. Image courtesy of Pablo Mazuera.

Russell leads a chase group at the Pan American Championships in Cota, Columbia. Image courtesy of Pablo Mazuera.

The first race of the season is always a bit of a shock to the system simply because, for the most part, it's the first truly maximal effort I've done in months. I also find I’m a bit stressed remembering my routine leading up to the event. In case you’re first event of the season is still on the horizon, I thought I would give a few tips I use to help find my groove. 

The day before the race is the most important for me in terms of preparations. I like to familiarize myself with the course by riding a couple easy laps and then a “hot lap” to open the legs up and see how it rides at speed. I try to keep this ride short and sweet; 1.5-2 hours. Just enough to open the legs, but not too much that I'm fatigued. Once I'm done riding, it's time to focus on hydration and nutrition. I try to drink a little more water than normal, but I don't get carried away and drink so much that I'm uncomfortable. I also increase my carbohydrate intake to top off muscle glycogen stores. Then it’s time to put the legs up, get a good night of sleep, and wake up feeling ready to race!

Our races are typically in the afternoon, so after a light breakfast I head out for a short spin (most the time to a coffee shop!). This ride is around 30 minutes and is just something to get the legs moving. Three hours before the start I have my pre-race meal. Everyone needs to find which foods work best for them, but I prefer either rice, eggs and avocado or a pancake with plenty of peanut butter on it!

Before you know, it’s time to warm up! Just before heading out I like to have a light snack. Enduro Bites are perfect for this. I typically have two Dark Chocolate Espresso bites. My warm-up consists of a 45 minute spin with a high-intensity effort to get the legs opened up. I also normally drink Beta Red Pre-Ride Formula from my water bottle while warming up to make sure I'm able to squeeze every last bit of performance from my body.

That's my race preparation in a nut shell. Hopefully it will help you find your groove! 

Cover image courtesy of Craig Glaspell.

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