Train Your Brain
Generally, people only train their body to prepare for a race. We neglect our mind and don't realize how important it is to have a strong mind to achieve our goals.
However, more and more athletes realise that it is just as important to train the mind as it is to train the body.
Everything starts in our mind. It starts all with a thought, then the thought can cause certain reactions or actions and create our believe system. If we focus on negative thoughts and believe systems, that's what we will feel and it inhibits us to reach our goals.
Did you know that negative thoughts take 15-20% of your physical strength away? Hence it is important to train your brain to have a stronger, faster, more positive race ever.
Firstly, make sure that you know what your goal is. What do you want to achieve? Is your goal to finish the race because it is your first time you do it? Do you want to better your previous time? Do you want to stay with stronger riders? Do you want to finish in the top ten?
As soon as you have established what you want to achieve, what your goal is, focus on achieving it.
You need to tap into your subconscious mind to achieve your goals effectively. We all have a conscious and a subconscious part of our mind. Your conscious mind is the part you use actively during the day. It's the part that tells us what we should do and not do. The conscious part is our policing system of our mind and it can be quite negative if we focus on negative thoughts mainly in our daily living. This part of the mind is only about 10% of our brain’s capacity. Our subconscious mind is the bigger part of our mind, about 90%. We do not use our subconscious mind actively. It is the part that stores everything we have experienced; our emotions that come up automatically and out believe systems. We need to influence this part to be able to achieve our goals more effectively.
When we relax we cycle our brainwaves down, from beta to alpha/theta. When we are in that relaxed state of mind, our conscious mind relaxes as well and we can work with our subconscious mind. You’ll feel as if you are nearly asleep when you are in that state of mind.
Our conscious mind is responsible for mental setbacks. We need to bypass our conscious mind to reach our subconscious. When you are relaxed and can work with your subconscious mind you will be able to create new positive thoughts and believe systems. In that state your mind doesn't know the difference between reality and fiction. Now, when you focus on your perfect ride, mental strength, perseverance and achieving your goals, your mind thinks it has done it already. It stores that new believe and you can achieve your goals much easier than ever before.
Here are 6 easy steps to train your brain to have a positive, strong ride:
Focus on the positive of your ride before falling asleep
Familiarise yourself with the route you will ride. Visualise yourself riding it. Pay special attention to critical points in the race. Then focus on having a great ride where everything works out perfectly well, you will fall asleep with positivity, visualising how everything works out well which results in you having a better night’s rest and wake happier.
Start the day visualising your perfect ride
You will be positive, more refreshed and surprised how strong and motivated you will feel to do your race. Remember that many people often focus on the negative events which make them feel down, anxious, upset and weak.
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”. Staying calm and positive inhibits cortisol (your stress hormone) production, helping you to cope better, stay in control and be stronger. Cortisol can inhibit your strength as well. 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 visualise a protective shield around you that does not allow those thoughts through. Your negative thoughts must be changed into positive thoughts, 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. Don’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!
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.
If you follow the steps your mind will be more prepared for the race. 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!
If you are looking for a personal trainer for your mind, phone Andrea Kellerman (B.A., H.E.D., Psych Hon, Med. Psych, NF Practitioner, Adv. Dip. Hyp., Practise number: 791953, Member of S.A.M.H.F. (SA Modern Hypnotherapy Foundation), training validated by GHsc (General Hypnotherapy Standards Council of Great Britain)) under 031-2660636 or visit: www.eq-advantedge.co.za