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mental skills

The Limiter

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The Limiter

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

"I'm 100% sure I can't do this" I told the yoga instructor after she showed us the next pose we were suppose to get into and hold. With tight shoulders and a delicate elbow, I was sure that my body would not get into or like the pose.  The nice instructor came over and, in less than a minute, I was in the pose doing something I was convinced my body couldn't do and it actually felt good. 

I'm 100% sure I can't do this. All it took was one silly yoga pose and I lost all self confidence in myself and my body. Without the nice yoga instructors help, I would have never tried that pose, would have never learned that I actually can do the pose, that it felt good, and could help me with my tight shoulders. My mind and mental state would have held me and my progress back without even giving myself a chance to try, learn, and get better (or more flexible). 

As a coach, I see athletes set their own mental limiters before training and competition even begin. They have set themselves up for failure before giving themselves a chance to succeed. This time, it was me, setting myself up for failure- in front of our athletes. 

The mind and one's mental state are powerful tools. If you don't think you can do something, then guess what, you can't. Our body is capable of doing so much more than our mind thinks it can. When it comes to making progress either as an athlete or a person in general, the mind is the limiter. 

When it comes to your own training, racing, confidence, bike handling skills, or challenging route with lots of climbing and descending, how is your mental state? If you truly believe that something is too hard, or you are not good enough, or won't be able to complete it, and you don't give your body and chance to really try it and give it a go, then guess what? You just made your own self-fulfilling prophecy and you won't be good enough. You won't get good enough. You won't become more confident. And, you won't achieve the results and goals you have set out for yourself. 

challenge-accepted.jpg

When it comes to challenging things, if you really do want to get better and grow as an athlete and/or person, then you must be open minded and willing to really try, give 100%, try your best. Allow yourself to have success. Sure, there is a chance that you won't be able to do that thing, but there is a very good chance that you learn something along the way that makes you better. 

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The Limiter

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The Limiter

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

"I'm 100% sure I can't do this" I told the yoga instructor after she showed us the next pose we were suppose to get into and hold. With tight shoulders and a delicate elbow, I was sure that my body would not get into or like the pose.  The nice instructor came over and, in less than a minute, I was in the pose doing something I was convinced my body couldn't do and it actually felt good. 

I'm 100% sure I can't do this. All it took was one silly yoga pose and I lost all self confidence in myself and my body. Without the nice yoga instructors help, I would have never tried that pose, would have never learned that I actually can do the pose, that it felt good, and could help me with my tight shoulders. My mind and mental state would have held me and my progress back without even giving myself a chance to try, learn, and get better (or more flexible). 

As a coach, I see athletes set their own mental limiters before training and competition even begin. They have set themselves up for failure before giving themselves a chance to succeed. This time, it was me, setting myself up for failure- in front of our athletes. 

The mind and one's mental state are powerful tools. If you don't think you can do something, then guess what, you can't. Our body is capable of doing so much more than our mind thinks it can. When it comes to making progress either as an athlete or a person in general, the mind is the limiter. 

When it comes to your own training, racing, confidence, bike handling skills, or challenging route with lots of climbing and descending, how is your mental state? If you truly believe that something is too hard, or you are not good enough, or won't be able to complete it, and you don't give your body and chance to really try it and give it a go, then guess what? You just made your own self-fulfilling prophecy and you won't be good enough. You won't get good enough. You won't become more confident. And, you won't achieve the results and goals you have set out for yourself. 

challenge-accepted.jpg

When it comes to challenging things, if you really do want to get better and grow as an athlete and/or person, then you must be open minded and willing to really try, give 100%, try your best. Sure, there is a chance that you won't be able to do that thing, but there is a very good chance that you learn something along the way that makes you better. 

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3 Tips On The Art of Suffering

Standing on top of the podium makes all of that suffering worth it. ALP Cycles Race Team athletes Cory Popovich and Sandy North's smiles say it all. 

Standing on top of the podium makes all of that suffering worth it. ALP Cycles Race Team athletes Cory Popovich and Sandy North's smiles say it all. 

Written by ALP Cycles Coach, Jennifer Sharp

Shhhhhh…. Don’t tell anyone new to the sport but cycling is based on suffering. A lot of suffering. You have to push your body to the extreme to overcome gravity, inertia, strong winds, and at time physical ailments just in order to cross the finish line. It can be painful, gut wrenching, exhilarating and 100% satisfying.

When I first started racing back in 2004, I stumbled upon CyclingNews mental tool box. I was fascinated with how the mind worked and how something as simple as changing your perspective toward any obstacle could make a huge difference and decrease your suffering.

By decrease your suffering, you can increase your joy of the experience.

So how do you do that? Here are my top three mental tools that I find myself going to over and over again.

ALP Cycles Head Coach Alison Powers discusses bike handling techniques to give riders the tools they need to ride their bikes confidently.

ALP Cycles Head Coach Alison Powers discusses bike handling techniques to give riders the tools they need to ride their bikes confidently.

1.     USE POSITIVE SELF TALK. The voices in our head can make or break you. Cycling is hard enough. If you don’t make the break, can’t keep up with the group, or hit a certain power threshold, then it’s really easy to let the negative voices creep into your head and take over. It takes a conscious choice to break the pattern and snap out of that funk and focus on the positive. Olympic Training Center sport psychologist Diana McNabb once shared with me her rubber band trick: put a rubber band around one of your wrists. If you find yourself traveling down a path of self-doubt and negativity – snap that rubber band and tell yourself, you CAN do it. The act of snapping the rubber band can break the pattern of negativity and work like a charm.

2.     KEEP PUSHING. Say you’re climbing a hill and it just keeps going and going and going. You’re pushing your body to the limit – your heart rate is through the roof, your muscles are screaming at you and you know you could just pull over and the pain would quickly stop. This is where you really have to fight the urge to back off. Acknowledge the pain. Tell yourself that you know it hurts, but you’re going to keep pushing to the next tree. And once you get there, you keep pushing to the tree after that and the tree after that. Each time you push your body that much further, you build confidence that you can go further even when everything hurts. Our minds are often the biggest limiter.

Surround yourself with positive coaches, teammates and friends and enjoy the process.

Surround yourself with positive coaches, teammates and friends and enjoy the process.

3.     SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE. This applies to all faucets of life. If you want to focus on positivity and growth, then finding positive like-minded people can make a huge difference. They’re your support system and cheerleaders. These are the people who make mistakes, learn from them and can laugh about it later.

Have a tool that you use you’d like to share? Please add a comment below. 

 

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Got Skills?- Tucson Training Camp Day 2

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Got Skills?- Tucson Training Camp Day 2

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! 

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