Mental Training

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by runnerj, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. runnerj

    runnerj New Member

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    I am doing about all I can to train my body. I was wondering if anyone had any techniques to build mental strength, relaxation, consistency, etc. especially on long hard rides.
     
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  2. bigringing

    bigringing New Member

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    About two months ago I came across a CD (the ultimate cyclist) that seems to do just what you are asking about. It's a hypnosis CD that's designed specifically for cyclists, to help confidence and relaxation. I'll admit, I thought it was pretty strange, but after only a few days of listening to it, I could see how it would help in hard races when the self-doubt starts to creep in.

    If you look on their site,www.ultimatecyclist.com, they have some fairly big names in cycling touting it's benefits. You might want to check it out.

     
  3. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    Sure, all of that is essential. You have to avoid negativity - comments such as "You know, the champs are a special breed and I'll never be at that level!"
    There's a saying by Muhammad Ali that went something like, "If you ain't a champion, pretend you are." Don't strive for a positive beginning from a negative is the rule.
    There will always be a hundred and one people who tell you you'll burn out if you train harder than other folks or that you shouldn't be doing this that or the other. Armstrong would never have won the tour de France if he hadn't believed he could have won it and then busted his ass several hours a day to make the vision a reality.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we can all be as good as Lance but ask yourself how many people really train hard on the bike and push the pain barrier from time to time. Mentally you need to be able to withstand the rigours of such hard work in wind, rain and sun. Even if it's just a local race in a town, you have to believe you can be at the front.

     
  4. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    Sure, all of that is essential. You have to avoid negativity - comments such as "You know, the champs are a special breed and I'll never be at that level!"
    There's a saying by Muhammad Ali that went something like, "If you ain't a champion, pretend you are." Don't strive for a positive beginning from a negative is the rule.
    There will always be a hundred and one people who tell you you'll burn out if you train harder than other folks or that you shouldn't be doing this that or the other. Armstrong would never have won the tour de France if he hadn't believed he could have won it and then busted his ass several hours a day to make the vision a reality.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we can all be as good as Lance but ask yourself how many people really train hard on the bike and push the pain barrier from time to time. Mentally you need to be able to withstand the rigours of such hard work in wind, rain and sun. Even if it's just a local race in a town, you have to believe you can be at the front.
     
  5. bigringing

    bigringing New Member

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    Carrera,
    Agreed. I've always found that for me to perform well, I have to at some level know that I can do it. At certain times, I've just known that I will do well, and that's exactly what happens. These are the great times of the season when everything is positive, and you're feeling very confident. Of course, just the opposite can happen too, when self-doubt is just about all you can think of in a physically demanding race. I think this is where the mental preparation that we do off the bike (and hopefully the CD that I mentioned eariler) will really help.


     
  6. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I can't say I have any special techniques. For me, the mental strength in racing comes from 1) confidence in your abilities derived from training where you've pushed your own limits, and 2) desire to push through your own limits or beat the other guy. #1 seems to be the more relevant of the two, so in training I specifically test myself in such a way that I know what I'm capable of, and yet still leave something to strive for. It's a delicate balancing act, but I think each workout should end with "Yeah! I did it (and maybe could have done a teensy-bit more)!" rather than "Ugh, I guess I found my limit."
     
  7. bikeguy

    bikeguy New Member

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    There is a whole subsection of sports literature dealing with the psychology of "winning". A trip to the local library might be in order.

    -Bikeguy
     
  8. bigringing

    bigringing New Member

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    Agreed that this is a well documented for sports and other ventures such as business. But I think the original question was about cycling-specific mental training. Though I would agree that there is probably a great deal of cross-over from one sport to the next when it comes to having a winning attitude.

     
  9. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Nothing breeds success like success. From 2000 on Lance would always start the Tour with the higest confidence as he was defending champion and prepared so well.

    Set lots of small achieveable goals and enjoy succeeding. As you develop and improve start setting more challenging goals and you will achieve more.

    When coaching young riders I try and get them to win as often as possible even if it means holding them back in a grade or getting them easy handicap starts (we do a lot of handicap racing in NZ) so they can enjoy lots of little success. Through this approach lots of riders that others didn't think had what it takes have gone on to great success!

    Hamish Ferguson
    Cycling Coach
     
  10. Yippee38

    Yippee38 New Member

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    Heh. I'm glad I found this thread because I just had a revelation recently about this. I've been doing Tae-Bo interspersed with my cycling workouts for my cardio training (being winter here). Because of my schedule I've been working out first thing in the morning. I am NOT a morning person.

    The other day I got up and was dead tired, but determined to do my workout. I kept grumbling, "I'm so tired." I did my Tae-bo workout, but I was just flinging my limbs around. It was a crappy workout. I didn't get much out of it. Two day later, I found myself in the same situation. This time I decided to try something I had read in a book. I kept saying to myself, out loud, anything that was positive. I would say, "I feel great," "I've got lots of energy," and "I'm making myself stronger and fitter," and anything like that. Anyway, I had a great workout and actually almost pushed myself too hard. If you try it, avoid any negative words. For example, you don't want to say, "I'm not tired," but instead use, "I've got lots of energy." The trick is that as long as you keep talking to yourself, you will not be able to build those thoughts of self-doubt. For some reason though, it only works when you say it out loud (at least for me). If I just think it, part of my brain is thinking, "yeah right." If I say it out loud though, it's almost like it uses up just enough brain power that it doesn't leave enough for that negative thought.
     
  11. runnerj

    runnerj New Member

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    I hadn't thought much about confidence when I asked the original question, I was more thinking about focus and consistency. I can definitely see, in retrospect, how negative thoughts and attitudes can effect my performance and am interested in ideas on how to improve my positive thinking. Just saying positive affirmations to myself may not be enough as I don't believe anyone, including myself, without backup support. Perhaps the CD suggested by Bigringing would give that extra boost to make it stick... Any thoughts?
     
  12. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    My biggest psyche-up is successfully completing a tough workout. I don't think CD's, meditation, pep-talks, etc. would work for me.
     
  13. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I agree. I have come to learn that my mind can write checks that my body can't cash. My greatest confidence comes from knowing that whatever I need to do in a race I have done on training rides, whether it's a specific effort or a cumulative effort. If I'm trying to ride a hill at a sustained intensity I have never done before in practice, chances are pretty high that I am going to run out of gas regardless of how badly I want to do it emotionally. OTOH, if I know I have done it before on training rides, I'm likely to overcome any doubts I may have about whether I can complete the effort.
     
  14. fergie

    fergie Member

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    I think confidence will be higher if one knows they can do something (ie training has been specific) than by just telling themselves they can do something.

    Hamish Ferguson
    Cycling Coach
     
  15. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Back in my competitive days (different sport than cycling) I practiced visualization techniques and it worked for me.

    If you can't see yourself as a winner you are more than likely not going to win. Especially when you have equal level competitors.

    I used it for both off season and on season training and the longer I used visualization the better I got at it.

    For me performing near maximum lifts were very important and when you step up to a bar on the squat rack with your near maximum weight your mind will easily and quickly talk you into failure. Before I went to the gym for leg day I would start a day ahead and begin to relax in a meditative state and "day dream" about performing the lift with a weight that was beyond my reach. I would focus until I could actually visualize the lift. If I could not I knew I was not mentally ready. If I could I went to the gym and gave it a shot. Sometimes I could not make the lift, but at least it was my body that failed to lift and not a mental failure.

    I used other techniques of psyching myself up before a lift, but the visualization was absolutely key for me to get past some mental barriers.

    I cannot stress enough that is important to see (visualize) yourself as a winner. If you cannot you will probably not win unless you entered in a division that you are well above the competition. We used to call those kind of guys "trophy hunters" because they puposely entered a division they knew they could win. :)

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/sport_psych/a/aa091700a.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/il2/figskating/competitive/psych.html

    http://www.performance-media.com/
     
  16. bigringing

    bigringing New Member

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    I know what you mean, but after having used this CD for a while now, I'd say it helps quite a bit in getting through those tough workouts, which will of course help in your next race.

    The way I look at it is: How will you ever get better if every time you ride, you think you'll only do as good as your best ride so far? By being positive, and not letting the self-doubt creep in, I've been able to set some pretty lofty training goals (at least lofty for me) and sometimes I've achieved them. And like you said, once you've done it, you know you can do it again.

    So, I don't think the CD is an instant fix, or something that you listen to right before a race to automatically go faster. Instead, it just eliminates those days of your training when your mind "got in the way".

    If you think you can't, you won't. If you think you can, you might. I'd rather aim high.
     
  17. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Don't buy that one. Plenty of times have gone expecting to get a hiding but done quite well and more often gone in pumped and ready to kill and been slaughtered.

    Positive action is the way to go. Do positive things, plan them out, visualise them to remember them in the heat of battle and you will find that well set goals will that start small and achievable will snowball into far greater success's.

    Hamish Ferguson
    Cycling Coach
    Sport Psychologist in Training
     
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