Mental Training


 

Any endurance sport has a mental aspect to it. I like tosay bicycle endurance is half muscle strength and half mental strength.

 It is easy to talk yourself off the bike halfway through a 200 mile day. You will remember the closet ceiling that needed paint and right now seems like the perfect time to do it.


 Your brain will try and convince you that anything would be better than pedaling up another hill. Part of mental training is learning not to let you brain talk you off your bike.

Learning how to stay focused on the task at hand and not quitting takes some practice. One thing for sure a quitter never wins, don't be a looser stay on that bike.

 As your body gets in better physical condition the mental urge to quit is easier to overcome.

Knowing your physical ability is also part of your mental training. You should have some knowledge of how far you can push your body physically, so you can prepare for it mentally.

 To find out what your physical ability is you need to test it. If the furthest distance you have ever ridden is 50 miles you really can’t be sure that you can ride 150 miles. That distance would be a physical and mental unknown.

 For example: Let's say after a long day you arrive in a town to find they have no available place to sleep. You then realize the next town with a place to sleep is 70 miles away. If you did not know your physical ability this situation could offer some mental anxiety.

 Knowing in your head that you have the ability to ride to that next town is important and reassuring. This reassurance is there even before you pedal your first mile. You already know you can make it. If you have the mental strength to ride your muscles will take you there.

Remember, the distance you travel each day is dictated by the location of a place to sleep.

Before you leave you should know you're capable of riding at least twice your planned daily average. If your tour is scheduled to cover 75 miles a day you should know you could ride 150 if need be.

We plan our long trips to average 100 miles a day. So in our case we need to be sure we can ride 200 miles a day without a problem. We have tested our abilities and know we are capable of that and more.

A great way to test your mental and physical abilities is to ride a Brevet Series. These cycling events are in a class called Randonneuring. Randonneuring is really “rapid touring”.  The Brevet Series consist of a 200K, 300K, 400K and a 600K that must be finished with a time limit. Once you have completed a Brevet Series you would definitely know your abilities.

Another exercise in mental training is riding in the rain. Riding in the rain just plan sucks to put it bluntly. Soaked to the bone with your hands wrinkled like raisins is no fun at all. Your shoes fill with water and each cold wrinkled foot is submerged in its own nasty little shoe pond. If you want something to drag you down quick rain is the ticket. As crazy as this seems you need to suffer through some rain riding to mentally prepare for that misery. Again already knowing you have what it takes to finish the ride will make life easier.

 We got our rain riding experience by sticking to a rule we once made. If we register for a cycling event or race we always make the ride no matter what the weather. If we have a 250 mile event and it is pouring rain... we ride. (Westfield 400K 2005)  If at the start of a 200 mile race it is only 19 degrees.... we ride. (Quad State Double 2006). The list goes on.

Strong winds can be another condition that can break you mentally. Wind like rain is always touching, poking and prodding you as you try to pedal against it. You are pushing hard and going nowhere the wind is sucking energy out of you.

Now add the wind noise screaming in your ears so loud so you can’t even hear an approaching car. Wind like rain works on you slowly, hour after hour it tries to beat you down a little at a time. You can't let that happen.

Having previously ridden through terrible conditions will have you mentally prepared to tackle whatever comes up on a tour.

Another mental stumbling block is looking at your tour as one big giant of a ride. It is best not to dwell on the ride in its entirety. If you do it can seem somewhat overwhelming and nearly impossible to accomplish.  Look at it in smaller segments.

Say you were hoping to ride a 3000 mile tour at the rate of 100 miles a day. If you look at it as 30 straight 100 mile days it may seem a little scary. When in reality you only really need to get through the first day.  When that day is over just ask yourselYou already know the answer, of course you can.

 You have heard the saying before....one day at a time. And that is how you have to look at it. One day at a time.

 

It is easy to become mentally defeated and just as easy not to. It is all up to you and how you perceive your situation.  Maintaining a positive focused attitude along with proper training will get you through.  Remember if you can mentally see yourself completing the task your body will follow.