• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015

It's been some four years since I started taking training seriously and the hardest part of the training has been conditioning my mind for competition. While solving problems and working hard comes naturally for things involving computers, it doesn't come natually for things involving bike racing and other sports related activities. Learning the meaning of "Rule #5" and "HTFU" have been and are hard. In fact, I had no idea about anything of the sort until last year. If I recall correctly, I tweeted "Bike is 50% mental" and I got a response from Mike "The Gorrila" Mandel from Real Deal Racing that is is 99% mental. He was certainly correct.

One of the things I learned last year while training with the Real Deal Elite team was about giving up - and why you can't do that if you want to win. However, I also discovered that showing up to a race with the "gotta win, gotta win" idea rolling through my head has a negative affect on performance. The anxiety and stress from those throughts tends to cause me to make mistakes, miss opportunities, and generally under-perform. I have thus taken on the "it doesn't matter" attititude when showing up for a race. I tend to do better when I have no expectation from the outcome. However, that does not mean I do not give 110%. The mental training is still put to the test during hard efforts, attacks, and the sprint for finish, but after it's all over and I pack up and go home, I am not worried about not making the podium. This is the reason I put "having fun" as the first goal for this season. Because I am not being paid to race a bike, the moment racing and training becomes work, I need to rethink why I am doing it.

 

I am currently reading "The Chimp Paradox" by Dr. Steve Peters. Dr. Peters is the Sports Psychologist working with British Cycling/Team Sky. He has helped Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy reach top poduim finishes as such small competitions like the Olympics. The chimp paradox concept basically suggests that one externalize one's emotions so that better managed. This morning I was reading the book on the TTC (no riding today, dammit!) and I found interesting when I read the following paragraph related to unrealistic/unhelpful expectations:

 

"Another example of unrealistic expectation is that you always have to win to prove yourself. Playing a game of tennis is good fun if you have the belief that it is just a game and that the outcome doesn't really matter. It doesn't mean you won't try, but it means that you have perspective. However, if you have the believe that you have to win because it reflects on your worth as a person, the game will become intense and probably unpleasant. What you hold as a believe affect the way you handle outcomes or respond to them, whatever they are. It is better to have realistic expectations or to have no expectations whatsoever. (bold mine) - Chimp Paradox, Dr. Steve Peters, pg.82 

The hold no expectations mantra is how I handle the bi-weekly races at the track. If it worry about getting dropped and not finishing when getting tossed in the the A races, or having to finish in the top three when racing in the B group, I become anxious and racing becomes work. Self-doubt starts to kick in and I beat myself up after no getting the result I wanted. I look at the sessions as training. I've also received enough pats on the back for some smart racing from others when I didn't win, that it doesn't really matter. Nevemind, sometimes the smart/risky moves in the race are what is remember over who wins.

Perspective. Keep it in perspective. You can't win every race. In my case, I won't make the Olympics, so, for me, it's about keeping fit and have fun in the process. Check out the video below by Dr. Peters taken at a recent TEDx where he reviews the Chimp Paradox concept.

[youtube]R-KI1D5NPJs[/youtube]

 

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