How to Survive Early-Morning Race Starts

Question: I'm not a morning person, never have been. A lot of the long endurance races I have been doing start early in the morning and I feel like I have a hard time getting going. I usually get off the line feeling flat with tired legs and don't really get going for the first hour or so. How can I get better at these early morning events?

Dawn patrol endurance race start times can be difficult for night owls! In general, the longer the race, the earlier the start time. Riding conservatively and taking an hour to open up in these longer endurance races can be a good tactic, and could lead to a personal best race time. It is all too easy to over-pace the start of an endurance race.

I've outlined training and race-day strategies that can help you feel sparklier at race start, and have you firing on all cylinders right from the gun.

More: How to Finish a 100-Mile Mountain Bike Race

Pre-Adaption

In the five days leading up to race day go to bed early and wake up at the same time as race day. Give yourself enough time to log eight hours of sleep. Start your ride in the morning at the same time as the race start if possible. Like pre-adapting to a new time zone before travel, this will shift your biological clock to be awake at race time.

In the five weeks leading up to the event, once per week, go to bed early, rise early and ride early. This will teach your body to put in the work early and more importantly, provide you the opportunity to experiment with different breakfast and wake up routines.

More: 10 Tips to Survive a 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race

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About the Author

Lynda Wallenfels

Lynda Wallenfels is a Category 1 certified USA Cycling coach. She coaches mountain bike, cross country and endurance athletes to personal bests and national championships. Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes for 16 years and racing professionally for 18 years. Contact her through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching and consulting at lwcoaching.com.

Lynda Wallenfels is a Category 1 certified USA Cycling coach. She coaches mountain bike, cross country and endurance athletes to personal bests and national championships. Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes for 16 years and racing professionally for 18 years. Contact her through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching and consulting at lwcoaching.com.

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