What's on Latest Blogs Former Olympian Mark Foster – Why you need a race plan! Former Olympian Mark Foster. When I was competing I would always maintain a good level of fitness, staying in shape, eating healthily and regulating my sleeping pattern. Mentally, I would start to break down each part of the race that I felt needed attention and keep practising each bit until I was happy with each section. As I was a sprinter, in the early days I would just get the start right and then go as fast as I could until I hit the wall and that’s not a bad framework. But, as I got more experienced, I realised that each part of the race had to be broken down. The start, the first 10 meters, and then the second until I had a clear picture in my mind about every part of the 50 metres. I know it was only 50 meters, completed in 21 seconds, but in the water that is a very long time. You have to know in your mind where you are in the lane and where to concentrate your efforts. That becomes your race plan. The mental preparation was also essential. I always had to be able to imagine the race in my head – diving in, moving through the water and finally touching the wall. I would go through that sequence in my head over and over again until it was all seamless and that’s when I knew I was ready. The team of people around you is also very important. You need to listen to your coach and listen to your body. Do what you are told to do and listen to your body, as in times of stress – physical and mental – you sometimes need to ease off. Your training partners are there to push and support you, every session is an opportunity to improve. Just remember these three things when you race. Me. Water. Wall. Swimming is a closed sport, meaning there is nothing that can get in your way. It’s you, the water and the wall. Stick to your race plan and only focus on you. After all that mental and physical discipline, the night before I would sometimes just eat a huge bar of chocolate as a way to treat to myself for all the hard work! I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone but it worked for me. Just before the race I was always calm and chatty to everyone in the changing room, lots of people thought it was a mind game but it wasn’t, it’s just how I was. Once I was on the starting block it was anyone’s race – you’ve got a lane, you’ve got a chance. Good luck!