I hate to say this but as a coach who has worked with endurance athletes of all abilities and race disciplines some times it comes down to how you feel on race day. This doesn’t mean that your hard work, discipline and focus have nothing to do with your success as an athlete. However sometimes how you feel on race day is the difference between winning or standing on the podium.
When it comes down to the event or the competition what is going on between your ears, your heart or that gut feeling may be your biggest problem or your biggest asset.
Every season as an athlete and a coach I pick a few performance goals, training objectives and areas of education that I need to work on or would like to improve. This season I will be spending time creating new training programs, adding new coaching services and learning more about Mental Training.
Why Mental Training?
When an athlete has trained properly, met their training objectives, crushed performance goals, fueled correctly and is just as strong or stronger than their competitors what is left? The mental aspect of competition is what’s left.
As I and others that I coach wrap up their bike racing season or their multisport season I am thinking more and more about how I felt on given race days. I think about the days I was successful and the days I wasn’t and what feelings or thoughts were keeping me from doing better or the ones that helped me to succeed.
As a coach and as competitive athlete I do not like to have my competitive outcomes based on unknowns and this is why I will be educating myself more on Mental Toughness, Sport Psychology and Visualization. I will also be bringing in a new partner or two to help athletes gain a better understanding of how to prepare mentally for competition.
Mental tips or smart thinking?
I have learned a few things this year that you may find useful at your next race.
- If you “can’t” do it you won’t. So don’t use negative self-talk even when you’re unsure of outcomes.
- Visualize what you want. Use as much detail in your imagery. The more details the better. Think about how the weather feels, sounds you hear, how you want your body to feel…
- Use music appropriately. I found myself listening to my high-energy mixes on my iPod all the time. So when it came time to listen to the same high-energy music on race day when warming up it wasn’t effective anymore. So now I reserve that mix or artists for race day only.
- Steer clear of negativity. I found that the largest sucking sound I was hearing in my life was the constant drone of negative attitudes and language from others. These were people in the media, some coworkers, people I know from competitions, and even my own inner dialogue. While it’s not possible to live in “Happy Bunny Land” 24/7 as a friend of mine would say I sure can limit my exposure to the negativity that seems to permeate modern life. Turn off the TV, go to different races, make new friends and be with people who want to improve their lives.
- Just breathe. I think something that we forget as human beings is the simplest form of relaxation is to take a few minutes out of the day and focus on breathing.
There you have it, a few tips to help you with your next big event, run, race or favorite group ride.
If you are contemplating hiring a coach this is the time of the season to do so. I will be updating coaching services and adding new plans in the next couple of weeks. If you want me as your coach for the next season I would suggest reaching out to me soon. I do limit the number of athletes I coach. Visit our contact page to reach me. To learn about when the new services and training plans come out register for our email on the right of this article. When you register you will also get access to Free Testing Protocols used to find your Training Zones.
Until the next article have a great ride, run or race!