by Arleigh Jenkins of Bike Shop Girl
The difference between a great athlete and a good athlete is mental attitude.
Cycling for me is an addiction, a healthy addiction, but still an addiction. Once I put myself in a consistent training regimen and have races or key events plotted on the calendar, I become hyper-focused and dedicated. Dedicated to well-rounded workouts, and even the dedication to take a day off the bike when my body needs it. The most important part of this dedication and consistency to training is 100% my personal thoughts and focus.
Your Mind is a Surprising Muscle
Your thoughts can fail you, or they can give you that extra kick over a long hill. It can shut down long before your legs, and make you question your training or quit right before you start seeing success.
When I start plotting out my season, the first step is to identify those “key races,” or the ones that I truly want to perform well in. Then there are two planning steps that happen simultaneously; I plan to attend events on a similar intensity level that will get me physically prepared for these “key races,” and I plan to take part in events that will train me mentally and keep me excited about my training. Planning to train both physically and mentally will lead up to a confident race day.
During the lulls of season training, or when the weather is at its worst, I do my best to surround myself with rock stars. Keep yourself motivated by outside influences; this could be group rides, online competition like Strava or telling your significant other to gently kick your out of bed to get to the gym.
I also do my best to be a rock star for my training partners and online followers. When it is raining, I bundle up and train to the best of my ability. If the weather is too crappy, then I hit the trainer. When others see you stepping up your game they will be surprised and then that surprise will encourage you.
Don’t Let Yourself Down
There is a fine line between pushing yourself too hard, or going out in weather that is dangerous, BUT before that line there is complete mental strength.
Are you tired from staying out late last night? That’s your fault, suit up and get on your bike.
The walk to the gym is cold – then run, jog or skip!
The last race you entered you were shelled off the back from the beginning and you rode in dead last without seeing a soul for the day. You are stronger for finishing solo, and taking that failure to make the flame in your training bigger will do you more good than taking that failure and deflating your tires.
Success is in the Baby Steps
Build success into your training. This could be a mandatory joy ride once per week, or playing games of timing yourself through Strava, but you have to build happiness and success into riding your bike. Riding up hill all day without the joy of going down will burn you out after a while.
Pass It On
One last thing I recommend is to volunteer once or twice a month for a beginner’s group ride. If you want to find the strength inside of you, the easiest and most rewarding way is to pass on your knowledge and passion to someone not as skilled or fast as you.