Stay Headstrong: Train Your Mind

There is only one way to reach goals: training. There are no shortcuts. One must push themselves physically, but not limit training to the bike only. Get the mind ready for the season ahead. Part of this is accomplished alongside the simple task of fitting training into life: scheduling training time, keeping to diet, monitoring your sleep, and spending time on work and family all require the power to focus, and that can use that in an event.

Use Anxious Energy Productively

One might feel nervous before a competition. The key is controlling that nervous energy so it can be productive. Feeling nervous is good. But feeling so nervous to become afraid and anxious is negative and can adversely affect performance. Excess anxiety causes muscle tension, increases stress levels, and reduces focus. Some signs of trouble are problems sleeping, feeling on edge, or being totally quiet and withdrawn. Athletes can battle against this unproductive emotion using meditation, breathing techniques, and visualization.

Acknowledge Your Achievements

Visualization is a helpful mental strategy for cycling. It involves using all the senses to provide a clear mental image of the performance. It’s important to focus not only on the end goal but also on the steps toward the goal. Visualization can be done with internal imagery (first-person view, or how the activity looks to the person) or external imagery (third-person view, or how it would look if the person was the spectator). In both perspectives the goal is to clearly watch oneself perform the activity. With mental imagery one can go through the emotions, control the performance, see the technique, the breathing, the competitors, and visualize the outcome that you desire. It’s a process that should be done three times a week for about 10 minutes each session. This will not only allow to produce an image of the result but will also help motivate to train and obtain the result.

Mantra Motivation

In competition, positive reinforcement helps push harder, so it’s important to learn to connect the pain of competition with a positive emotion, not a negative one. Know that the pain is temporary and remind that it was done during training and that can repeat the process in competition. Focus on immediate, even extremely short-term goals. Get through the next minute, to a certain mile marker, or to the top of a hill, and don’t feel overwhelmed by thinking of the whole event at once. Try to always stay in the present. Having a mantra is also useful. For example, phrases to overcome the pain: “Come on, you can do this, a little longer, don’t stop”

Some riders need races to get fit. They just can’t duplicate the intensity of training by themselves, even with fast friends. Other riders have the motivation to train hard enough on their own to get race ready. Train hard, channel nervous energy positively, visualize success, and stay motivated, the power of the mind will help accomplish the goals.