We've all heard about how important rituals or routines are for racers, however strange they might seem to anyone looking in from outside. And if you follow any of the public media coverage of elite racers, rarely do you get full insight into how much preparation goes on behind the scenes at a psychological level for racers and their teams . The fact is that these rituals have developed as a process racers use to get themselves into the right state of mind for their racing. They know how important it is for them, but they often don't recognise what they're doing and why, they just know they've got to do it as they feel it brings them better results.
Walking the circuit both prior to racing and between sessions (usually morning and evening), is part of this routine and many rookies and underperforming motorcycle racers are missing out on this simple process which is very helpful to improving performance. Lets look at some of the reasons why.
Probably the first and most important aspect to this is that it brings you fully to the circuit. It helps to take you away from your daily life, focusing you on the race weekend ahead to be fully present for your racing. It is a really nice way to relax into the weekend, giving you the opportunity to soak in the amazing atmosphere of great historical circuits. For me, it's almost as if each circuit gives off its own vibe of racing history, which is available for you to lap up to help your performance.
In today's world of psychology, the brain is popularly referred to as a computer, we reprogramme it here, switch it on there, giving the impression that it's like using your iPad - you've got different apps in your brain you can switch between however and whenever you like. Popular psychology is, I think, the worst for giving this impression so that people come away thinking there's something wrong with them if they can't control their brain and their thinking. This is all nonsense, of course.
The brain and nervous system is an electro-chemical system. The chemical nature of it is so complex that modern science really only understands some of the basics of it today. One brain chemical can do one thing in one part of the brain or nervous system, and it can do something entirely different elsewhere. Chemicals often play multiple roles too. Take Dopamine for example. This neurotransmitter is linked to feelings of pleasure and reward but it is also linked to smooth physical movement. With well over 100 different types of neurotransmitters, this all amounts to some very complex stuff.
Because of the chemical nature of the brain, it is like playing chemist. The problem is that the chemicals change the way they respond depending on the existing mix. You can't just add a little bit of this, and a sprinkle of that, as if it were a blank sheet. It also means that it takes time for your brain and nervous system to find the right state. With Adrenalin, the boost might last just a few seconds but it can take as long as 30 minutes for your system to settle down afterwards. So the chemistry takes a little bit of time.
Walking the circuit is a wonderful way of giving your system the time it needs to settle into your racing state of mind - use it and make it part of your racing routine. It can be relaxing, fun, and it gives great benefits without being like too much hard work - all a bit of a bonus.