Day two of training camp is nearly in the books. My body and mind are tired - with lots of lessons and teaching that filled the day as we rode by prickly cactus and speedy road runners. The terrain is great - with lots of rollers and sites to behold, with changing road surfaces and traffic. If you haven't ridden in the Southwest, you've got to put it on your bucket list. It's sunny, it's warm and it's January.
To top off the day of great riding, I had the pleasure of presenting to our group of 15 athletes this evening about one of my favorite subjects - mental training.
Endurance sports are hard. And cycling is no exception. So it's important to get in touch with why you enjoy such a grueling sport. If that's to win a world championship, Leadville, a local crit or to be a group ride hero - pinpointing those goals can motivate you both internally and externally.
There are multiple skills you can use in training and in racing and here are a few of my favorites.
Controlling the controllable. What is a controllable? The things that you can control - your preparation for a race, the way you react to an event, your nutrition, your mind. You can't control the weather, how an opponent prepares for a race, equipment failure, etc and you have to let go of the things you can't control.
Focus. You've got to be present, in life and when you cycle or play sports. Techniques to increase your focus include focusing on your breathing, which helps you relax and focus on your form. You can use mantras when the going gets tough. One of our favorite mantras at ALP Cycles is better, faster stronger. (If you get a chance, ask Alison about the mantra she used when pedaling to her multiple national time trial titles.) Truly listen to your breath and focus on it when the going gets tough and nothing else. If you're really interested in focusing and its benefits, pick up a beginners book on mindfulness.
Visualization. Think about your upcoming event that is important to you. Picture yourself there, ready to go and feel, smell, taste and touch everything you'd experience. See yourself executing perfect form, successfully powering over a climb, flying through a corner, or descending without hesitation. Practice this before you go to bed each night. When it comes race day, your mind will remember being there and you'll perform to your ability.
Those are just a few teasers to get you thinking. What are some of your mental training skills that you use? We'd love to hear from you - please leave a comment below.
Tomorrow - more skills and climbing!