Friday, July 19, 2024
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Managing track day nerves

I’ve seen a few posts recently about track days coming up for ladies who are doing it for their first time! Wow – what an exciting experience! Trying anything for the first time is inevitably going to stir up some anxiety. This is really normal and totally expected. But it can be really frustrating too! I’m here to tell you there are ways to manage it so you don’t have to suffer in silence!

Some of the things you might expect to feel leading up to the day:

  • Restless sleep
  • Lots of overthinking
  • Irritability (your partner/ family might wonder why you are doing this to yourself)
  • Excitement

What about on the day?

  • Have you heard of nervous wees! You are about to do 20 of them and then once you’ve got your leathers on, you’ll need to go again!!
  • Maybe an upset tummy
  • Your heart rate might be pumping a bit harder than normal
  • Sweaty palms

Guess what all that means?!

The adrenaline is pumping and you are excited to get out there. This is all good stuff but it’s actually really important to have some tools to settle this down, so that when you are heading out for the first session, you can actually enjoy it and feel confident on the bike.

What can you do to settle those nerves before you go out?

1. Breathing – In the days leading up to it, practice deep breathing. You can Google it if you aren’t sure how to do it properly. It’s really important to practice it when you are calm so that you can use it effectively when you need it. It is the most amazing and effective strategy to settle the nerves in a really short space of time. But remember, the more you practice it when you’re calm, the better you’ll be at using it when you need to!

2. Self talk – This is pretty self explanatory, but what does it mean and how can we use it to our advantage? The way we talk to ourselves has a direct impact on our performance. If, when sitting in pit lane ready to go out for the first time your self talk is:

“I really don’t want to come off my bike”;

“I’m not good enough to be doing this”;

“I’m going to fail”….

What do you think will happen? I can guarantee it’s not going to be anything good! And even if none of that happens, you certainly won’t be enjoying yourself.

Plan some statements that you can say to yourself that are supportive.

To help come up with some ideas, imagine you were saying it to a friend. Things like:

“I love trying new things”;

“I’m going to do the best I can”;

“It’s great to get out of my comfort zone”;

“I have all the skills I need to do this”!

These are just some ideas but I definitely recommend thinking of some before the day so they are ready to go in your mind!

3. Visualisation – This is a really great strategy and is basically all about using your imagination. However when we are nervous about something, we tend to use this strategy for thinking of all the worst case scenario’s. So imagine using it for GOOD not evil!

Imagine yourself riding down pit lane, ready to go out for your first lap. Imagine doing your deep breathing and saying your positive self talk statements. Visualise yourself riding out and completing a lap. Then imagine finishing the session, hopping off your bike. How good does it feel!! If you can go through all of this in your mind in the days leading up the track day, it will absolutely make a difference to how you perform on the day!

Try it – I’d love to hear your feedback.

These are 3 strategies that you can prepare to use for your first track day.

And guess what?! You can use them for your second and third time too!! These strategies can be generalised to use in lots of situations.

When I was weightlifting, I would use these in the lead up to a comp! Especially if it was a national or international level! And then on the day, I would use my deep breathing as I was waiting to walk out to the platform. Once I started chalking up my hands, I’d use positive self talk to prep me for my lift. The more I used these strategies, the better they worked for me.

So give it a go. Google the things I’ve talked about to get more information. There’s so many resources to help you develop these strategies so they work for you.

If you are keen to learn more, comment and let me know! I’d love to run some group sessions to help people develop these skills.

Kim
Kim
After growing up in the country town of Warwick, plus a few more "way out west" towns during her 20’s, Kim became a country girl at heart. Her love of bikes started early riding dirt bikes around country properties. Today she loves to go exploring on her road bike, but it's her crazy love of F1 side-car racing that keeps her adrenaline flowing. It comes from her "give anything a try once" attitude. Which also led her to compete at National and State levels in Olympic Weightlifting. But as if that wasn't enough, Kim can add competitor on the first season of Australian Ninja Warrior to her impressive list of achievements. By day, Kim is a psychologist, passionate about working with riders on issues impacting their performance. Kim is proud to be Girl Moto's resident psych, contributing regularly to content related to all the mental stuff!
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic article! It really is about breathing and stopping the runaway train of thoughts of what if… my first track day I reckon I did about 50 nervous wees over the course of the day. Thankfully I had my husband who there with me who has done lots of track days and he said to me, don’t overthink it, you can ride a bike so go out and just chuck some laps. It really helped and I came in after my first session saying I totally get why you love doing track days now, you can just concentrate on riding it! I have my second track day coming up next weekend 18/9 and while I’m looking forward to it I can already start to feel those butterflies.
    I would love to learn more techniques about conquering anxiety with track days.

    • Congrats on your 2nd day coming up. My first is TOMORROW! I am so excited. Thanks for sharing your experience. There’s something comforting about knowing you’re not the only one feeling a certain way. I’m grateful for Kim’s tips & I’m grateful that I’ll be on track with 24 of my sisters probably feeling the exact same thing!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience Jodie! I’m more than happy to chat with you further about managing your anxiety better for track days! I’ll let you know when we are booking in a group session if you are in South East Queensland. Otherwise get in touch by email and we can organise a one on one!

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