cycling psychology

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by numminummi, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. numminummi

    numminummi New Member

    Oct 12, 2010
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    Hi! I've just read the book 'with winning in mind'. It did have a lot of good aspects to use for cycling, but did not seem to cover how to overcome pain for longer periods (TT). Do you have any recommendations for books/articles on that?

  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2006
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    I don't have any good links or book recommendations, I know Hunter Allen co-authored a book on time trialing, but I haven't read it.

    FWIW, the question you pose is one of focus and there are a lot of ways to develop better race day focus that will help you stay engaged and on the rivet from beginning to end in a time trial. One approach that I really like is to break the course down into manageable sections and have a goal and focus for each section.

    For instance if it's a dead flat out and back 10 mile TT then break it into a starting quarter, a quarter to the turnaround, the quarter leaving the turnaround and the finishing quarter.

    - The first quarter is all about getting started and settling into a manageable pace without going crazy at the start and digging a hole you won't climb out of. So the first two and a half miles of a 10 mile TT or roughly 5-6 minutes of riding is about getting started and finding your sustainable pace.

    - The second quarter to the turnaround should focus on maintaining or building on the starting pace as you're past the first few minutes, RPE and HR have caught up with your efforts and you can start trusting your legs so try to roll at speed to the turnaround.

    - The dreaded third quarter is where most riders lose focus and lose time so really work hard here to stay engaged, keep your head in the game, glance at your power meter, speedometer or HR monitor to make sure you're not slacking as RPE has been high for a while and it's easy to lose focus and back off if you don't stay on top of it.

    - The final quarter is all about finishing, you're smelling the barn and just have to hang on, dig deep and give everything for the last bit but it will be over soon. Most riders do pretty well here, unfortunately those that went too hard at the start and backed off for the middle sections to recover often do really well at the end but they've already given away too much time. So this isn't really the hardest part mentally for most folks, getting here in a decent time is but still dig deep and finish hard.

    If it's not a flat course or the wind is an obvious factor then break up the course into segments based on the hills or the dominant winds. Figure out in advance what the mileage markers are for each substantial grade change and have a plan for each section. Display mileage on your cycling computer instead of time as you'll be going as fast as you can go but it's where you are on the course that tells you what's ahead based on your segments and tells you how much longer you have to dig to crest the climb or how long you can stay on steady pacing before the next climb/headwind section.

    Those kind of approaches along with a lot of long sustained intervals like 3x20s, 2x30s, 2x45s or even 1x60s are the best way I've found to develop the focus it takes to drive at your limit for long durations.

    BTW, pet peeve on my part but it might help to differentiate between 'pain' which is a bad sign and what your body tells you when you've injured something like broken a bone, pulled a muscle or torn a connective tissue vs. the discomfort that comes from hard physical efforts. I know our culture loves to blur the lines and talk about 'no pain, no gain' but pain really is a sign that something's gone badly wrong and your body needs help. The discomfort of hard physical efforts in sporting events sure can hurt but it's a good thing, not a bad thing and is exactly the sensation you're trying to achieve. IME, it pays to embrace the burning lungs and muscles and high RPE that's associated with hard efforts and to distinguish it from actual pain. That helps turn those high RPE sensations late in a TT into something positive instead of something to fear and can help you maintain the effort all the way to the finish line.

    Good luck,