Your best ever sani2c is in the brain - train it!
All of us riders train our bodies in preparing for a race usually using well known physical training programs. However, we neglect the mental aspect as we don't realize how important it is to have a strong mind to achieve our goals.
In professional athletes, modern scientific training techniques have narrowed the gap in competition to such an extent that they have had to search for a further competitive advantage. They have realized that this is in the mind! They now know that it’s just as important to train the mind as it is to train the body. This is not confined to professional riders, but to all of us who are to pursue challenging personal goals at Sani2c (from finishing for the first time, to personal bests, to winning!).
Everything we do, think and feel starts in our mind. Every thought causes certain reactions or actions and creates our belief system. It we focus on positive thoughts and develop a positive belief system, we’ll feel positive and strive to meet our goals, whereas if we focus on negative thoughts and have a negative belief system, that's what we will feel and it inhibits us reaching our goals. Did you know that negative thoughts take 15-20% of your physical strength away?
So it is important to train your brain to become a stronger, faster, more positive race ever irrespective of your level. With this you’ll develop a positive belief system which can stretch into your entire way of life.
Begin with clearly setting your goal. What do you want to achieve? Is your goal to finish the race because it is your first time you ride it? Do you want to better your previous time? Do you want to beat your training buddies? Do you want to finish in the top ten? Do you want to win?
As soon as you have established what you want to achieve, what your goal is, focus on achieving it.
When working with cyclists I tap into the subconscious mind to achieve their goals effectively. We all have a conscious and a subconscious part of our mind. The conscious mind is the part we use actively during the day. It's the part that tells us what we should do and not do. This part of the mind is only about 10% of our brain’s capacity. Our subconscious mind is the bigger part of our mind, the remaining 90%. We generally do not use our subconscious mind actively. It is the part that stores everything we have experienced, our emotions that come up automatically and our belief systems. We need to influence this part to be able to achieve our goals more effectively. When tapping into the sub conscious mind I receive amazing results with my athletes.
My mental coaching program helps cyclists to create new positive thoughts and belief systems. The riders are then able to focus on their perfect ride, mental strength, perseverance and achieving their goals easier. When you have visualized the perfect outcome of the race, overcoming fears and set-backs, the mind stores those new belief patterns and can repeat them in real life.
This structured mental coaching program to get athletes ‘into the zone’ does wonders in improving the performance of all athletes who take it, but there are still things and thought processes individuals can follow without the program. I have detailed some below.
Physical components for your preparation before the race:
Leading up to the race, train your body.
- Plan before you start
- Make sure that you cancelled out any technical errors.
- Make sure that your bike and all the parts are able to handle the tough route.
- Make sure that you can sleep comfortably at night.
- Sleep is very important if you want to perform well.
- Remember to eat and drink regularly during the race.
- Be prepared for any kind of weather and climate changes.
Now that you have sorted out all the physical components, you need to train your mind to stay strong.
Here are 7 easy steps to train your brain to have a positive, strong and successful ride:
Focus on the positive of your ride before falling asleep
Familiarize yourself with the route. Visit the webpage and download the route map. Read the description of the route and familiarize yourself with it in detail. This year the route is a bit different to last year’s route. If you know where the climbs are, when to expect single tracks and where the water tables are, you will feel much more prepared. This will take away the nervous anticipation and make you mentally stronger. Visualize yourself riding the route day by day. Pay special attention to critical points in the race, e.g. the single track at Murray's meander, Nick’s Pass, etc. Then focus and visualize on having a great ride where everything works out perfectly well. You will fall asleep with positivity which means you are having a better night’s rest and wake happier.
Start each day visualizing your perfect rid
After a good night’s sleep you will be positive, more refreshed and surprised how strong and motivated you will feel to do each day of the race. Remember that many people often focus on the negative events which make them feel down, anxious, upset and weak. It is important that you love what you are doing- the more fun you have the better your race will be.
During the race be aware of your strength in cycling and make sure that you keep re-affirming your strengths. If you are in a particular hard part of the race talk yourself through this situation with positive affirmations, e.g. “I can do this”, “I am nearly on the top of the hill”, “It is not long any more before this section is over”. Staying calm and positive inhibits cortical (your stress hormone) production, helping you cope better, stay in control and be stronger. Cortical can inhibit your strength. You are wasting energy while you stress, so stay calm and positive.
Be aware of negative thought patterns
Being more aware of your thoughts will help to eliminate negative thoughts that creep up subconsciously. Tell yourself that you will not allow negative thoughts to come in. It may help to visualize a protective shield around you that does not allow those thoughts through. Your negative thoughts must be changed into positive ones, e.g. re-affirm your strength (e.g. “I am fit and have trained enough to manage this hill”), also focus on what you have managed to do already and break the race up into sections which you can manage step by step. Doesn’t focus on the whole race at once as it might be too overwhelming. Always re-focus on your goal and use your positive affirmations over and over again! Know every day’s route well. This will help you to know if there is a longer climb or downhill coming up. You will be able to push harder if you can anticipate the next section and know when you can replenish your energy levels again.
Focus on your breathing
It is important to breathe correctly throughout the race. If you stop breathing in certain situations you are not allowing enough oxygen into your muscles which will reduce your strength and performance. Many people stop breathing when they are anxious or nervous, so remember to breathe regularly.
Focus and consistency
You need to stay focused throughout the race. Many accidents happen because people lose their concentration and focus. Be aware of your concentration levels and re-focus on what you are doing all the time. It is also important that your rhythm is consistent to be able to get into a good stride. When you are in a consistent stride and focus your mind on your race, you’ll be able to get to the finish line in no time. Cycle yourself into the “zone”!
Helping each other
Riding in a team has the advantage that you can help each other to stay focused and positive. Positive affirmations will help you and your partner to push a bit harder and finish each day better. Being negative and angry with each other has the opposite effect- negativity drains your strength. Remember research has shown that positive thoughts, affirmations and beliefs make you up to 15- 20%stronger.
If you follow these steps your mind will be more prepared for the sani2C. Being focused, positive and re-affirming our strength does not come naturally for all of us, but with conscious effort we can change that. A positive mind will allow you to feel positive, stronger, and to reach your goals more effectively.
Finally, remember to have fun!