Pre-race ride

2.Pre-race-easy-with-effortsAim of Session

A low-intensity session to get prepared for race time

Session description

No targets for this ride, one to ease off the legs and any fatigue. Include 2 or 3 race pace efforts for 1 or 2 minutes at a time. You should come back feeling fresher than you started!


This predominantly zone 1 session is not supposed to provide too much stress in the build-up to the race. Riding at this intensity will enable optimum recovery for race-day, elevating blood flow to the working muscles and removing all unnecessary waste products from previous sessions. The race pace efforts will stress the muscles and energy systems a little prior to race day, helping to break up the session and facilitate recovery in the periods between efforts. Ensure in this session that the last race pace effort is followed by a period of zone 1 recovery of at least 10 minutes. This will allow a gradual return to resting ventilation and heart rate whilst ensuring all the lactic acid is removed.

Application for the Rider

This ride is all about race preparation. Think of the race pace efforts as revving the engine of a car. Revving a little won’t waste much fuel, but will allow everything to be switched on and ready when the lights go green and the race starts. This kind of session could be the ideal one to use to reccy a course. Not only can riding the course give you more confidence on race day, you can also identify where you can put the hammer down using the race pace efforts from this session. 

Practicalities and tips!

By this stage of your race preparation, it is too late to improve your fitness so resist the temptation to ride too hard or for too long. Doing so will only deplete your muscle glycogen stores and leave you fatigued for race day. With this in mind, remember to sip a weak carbohydrate drink throughout the session and don't forget your post-ride nutrition to keep on top of your hydration and muscle glycogen stores.

If using this ride to check out the course consider the timing of your race pace efforts in order to practise difficult parts of the course. If there are tight corners or challenging terrain you will learn a lot more about the correct racing line and/or pacing strategy if you ride these sections close to race pace. For example that tight left hander on the time trial course will feel very different when travelling at 30 mph on the tri bars compared with 15mph sitting on the hoods!

Perhaps most importantly, remember that this session is about preparing you to perform at your best on race day. Over time your experience will begin to tell you what works for you on the day before a race. Some athletes may find a short 45 minute spin is optimal for them, while others may choose to ride for a couple of hours. To complicate things further, as well as individual differences, you may need a different pre race ride depending on your recent training and level of fatigue.

Evaluation of the session

This is not a training session as such, it's success is measured by how well perform on race day. Things to look out for:

  • Do you feel fresh? As this is a pre-race ride, this session should be an indicator as to whether you are ready to race
  • Do you look fresh? In the race efforts, your HR should be rising fast, indicating good responsiveness and low fatigue of the nervous / immune systems
  • Are you hitting realistic race powers? Don't go too hard just because you are fresh and the efforts are short. The race pace efforts are there to help you 'tune in' to race mentality