There was a lot of race action this weekend on the East coast so I figure it was a perfect time to share some advice.
You worked hard all winter long and put in countless hour of pain to see if they can finally start paying off. However, all of that hard work needs to be backed up by your mental game. I’ve seen many athletes who have the skill and ability to do great at races but fall apart when it’s show time. Here is some advice to help keep your head in the game.
First off you need to stay focused on all of the things you can control. This advice can also be applied to everyday life. For example, you should have paid your dues suffering like many others in the off season so that you’re prepared when the season starts. If you didn’t train, then you should also be willing to accept that you didn’t and just use the race as a learning and growing experience. Something that you can control is making sure that you’re not rushing around last minute to get ready and adding more stress to yourself. Make lists of what you know you will need, and lists of things you need to do. Ok, so what can’t you control? Well, you can’t control the weather, but being better prepared for it will help your chances of success. Being better prepared may mean having some specific gear as well as riding in those specific elements. (this applies to rain, snow, excessive heat/cold, etc) Other things you can control are having your bike and gear ready for race day. This means having it fully tuned and ready to go a few days before the event. The goal is to be able to focus on the big things that really matter without sweating the small stuff.
Think about where you want to go, not where you have been. Many people will think about where they finished during a certain race and still stay in that moment and focus only on the negatives. Such as who beat them, what they did wrong, what they didn’t like about the course, and so on. These thoughts are not going to help you at all. So put them in a mental trash bin. Instead focus on little things to keep you positive. Think about getting to see you friends, traveling, and just participating in the sport you love. I look at it like riding a piece of sweet single track. There you are riding along on a beautiful sunny day and you notice that some rocks have been kicked loose. If you focus on those rocks you’re bound to run into them or let them ruin your ride. It’s only when we take our focus off of the negative and steer where we want to go that we start to dictate the ride.
Race day means nothing to the track, your tire, tube, chain, bike, car, earth, or anything else. On race day we are all equal and we all still put our pants on one leg at a time, or at least I still do. My point is that anything can happen on race day. You may want top five in a field of ten people who consistently beat you. There is nothing that says that they will all have clean races and there is nothing to say that you can’t step up your own game. Do not let your mind take you out of the race before it even starts.
Never stop believing in yourself, or what you’re trying to accomplish. Everyone wants to podium and yet everyone can’t have it. What we can do is focus on improving our weaknesses, making our strengths even stronger and to above all try and have fun while we’re doing it.
I hope everyone had a great weekend, and that this will help some of you to up your mental game.