For this small blog post I decided that it would be interesting to talk about the mental side of road biking and skiing, giving some ideas of what helped me mentally. I’m hoping that it will give you some ideas too.
When I was fifteen years old I did not have a great year and whenever I raced I ended up being super negative. This negativity would affect how I felt about sports. When this past ski season came around I decided that anything could happen and I was just going to do my best and have fun! Even though I would be a bit stressed (which sometimes can be a good thing in very small quantities) just focusing on myself, wanting to race, going hard and convincing myself it would be so much fun made a difference. Doing this helped racing be exceedingly more enjoyable, which for me was saying something!
Some things I noticed were that as I started focusing on the wrong things, like other competitors and results, I would feel like I had a lot more pressure to do well, which would decrease my performance and my enjoyment.
Thinking back on some races that want well for me there are a few things that helped me or that I heard helped other people:
1. Making a plan, like, “Hey I’m going to go out hard and see if I can hold my speed the whole race”. Or “Up this hill I’m going to have super great glide and push over the top into the downhill so that I can carry my speed.”
2. Having something to go back to mentally. If you’re feeling tired you can have a key phrase like… “It’s not over til it’s over”, or a key technique tip on which you focus.
3. Faking it til you make it. Convincing yourself it’s going to be so much fun helps a lot and makes others around think that way too. Saying things like, “We’re going to have fun and do great,” even if you feel deep down that it may not be true, helps. If you think it and speak it you will start to believe it.
4. Focussing on yourself. It can be hard sometimes but in the end you will have a way better race. If you think or say, “as long as I beat this individual or individuals”, you limit yourself to their race and sometimes they might have a bad race. If you only want to beat them you will not improve to grow as a racer. Instead think of what you can improve on for yourself and help your team to grow, because if you all improve together you will excel to be faster in the years to come.
5. Trying things. It’s not about the destination it’s about the journey. Making a break or trying something you don’t normally do even if it doesn’t work will help you learn something in the end and you will improve by it.
6. Accepting that it’s going to be hard. Realize that it will be painful and hard, knowing that in the end if you go as hard as you can you will be happy and satisfied.
Not everything you do will turn out the way you want and you can’t be perfect every day but you can still try!
Some days it’s easy to get the mental part and some days it’s easier to get the physical part or it could be the complete opposite. But remember: it’s not practice that makes perfect; it’s perfect practice that makes perfect and if you get the physical and mental sides working together you will be a force to be reckoned with.