Tryouts for my university team are tomorrow (we re-tryout every year, regardless of number of years spent on the team) and I’m a tad nervous. I don’t think I’m as well-prepared as I was for last year’s 5k, but it’s inevitable. In hopes of easing some of my anxiety, I’ve decided to post my tried-and-true race plan and preparation!
Remember: self-care is essential. Be sure to get a good night’s rest and begin eating healthy, balanced meals as far ahead of time as possible. The sleep and nutrition you acquire in the days leading up to the erg test are all the fuel that your body as to run off of during the real thing.
Condition your body. Never, ever, ever attempt an erg test if you haven’t erged, run, or conditioned recently. In addition to your normal conditioning regimen, do a couple of practice 5k’s in the weeks leading up to the test. Not only will the practice pieces contribute to your fitness, but they will also allow you to gauge what the actual test will feel like. On the day before and the day of the test, be sure to rest your body. Don’t erg or run and avoid any other activities that might be too taxing.
Prepare mentally. Visualize, meditate, think happy thoughts, look at crew pictures, or medals from races past. Remind yourself of your accomplishments. Relax. Think soothing thoughts. Practice mindfulness. Before the test, practice whatever rituals are normal to you - listening to your pre-race playlist, stretching, warming up, playing a game on your phone - whatever gets you “in the zone.”
Have a plan. Look back at your 5k erg times from the past or at those of somebody comparable to you in speed. Jot down the split times and know what you should pull at each interval during the test. Let your teammates know if, when, and how you like to be coxed. Listen to music, if you want (as long as your team allows). Jot down your plan on a post-it or on your arm or thigh and reference it during your test. It will help guide you to the results you so desire and will give your eyes and mind something to do, other than focusing on the erg screen and the searing pain in your muscles.
If it helps, think "preparation, planning, and positivity" (the 3 P’s…I totally made that up). Good luck!!