Traditional coaching has sometimes missed or glossed over how to train your brain. It’s been something that has been used successfully in professional sports for many years and I feel it might be the next big change in the way amateur coaches treat clients. No more blanket “tough love” approach to talking to people, some respond well to this and others become far more reserved and recluse.
My coaching team have been utilising this with clients for a long time, but if you’re not ready for a 1:1 mentoring here’s five things that you may not have thought about when self-coaching:
Commitment: one of the first questions we ask new clients is how committed they are. Many say an outright 10 out of 10, and after some questioning to determine how perfect they will be with their diet, will they train indoors on the one sunny day of the year and are they prepared to ditch their mates for the duration of the coach/client relationship they usually drop this down a little. Simply asking yourself and setting realistic expectations of how dedicated you’ll be, will be less devastating if they go wrong. Allowing some off plan days works wonder for motivation provided you are comfortable in doing so and don’t see yourself as “cheating”. If you’re getting paid to ride you might consider being perfect, but if not, then you should enjoy the journey to your goals as much as achieving them.
Stress: some people can have a really long, stressful day and come back and smash a turbo session with ease, utilising the idea of releasing that tension to put in a good performance. Some people struggle with putting anything noteworthy in especially if this is combined with bad sleep, poor diet or any other factor. Reducing stress triggers is the best way to resolve this, be aware of what it is and deal with it. Talk to family, colleagues or anyone who can help, most people are genuinely accepting of this and will go out of their way to help you. When this isn’t achievable, knowing when to adjust your training might be next best. Typically reducing volume but increasing intensity is the way to fit a good session in around a long day.
Affirmations: you might be doing something similar but not to this greater extent. Once or twice per day having a list of 10-20 short phrases that you can play on your phone (or read from cards) is something that can totally shift mood. The phrases can be about life in general but including sport specific ones can reap great results. Repeating the phrases again before training or racing can change the way you perform. I love the quote “whether you think you will succeed or you think you won’t, you are right”. This will cost you nothing but a couple of minutes per day and might make huge difference in your life perspective as well as sporting performance.
Meditation: might be the point you’re least engaged with? Stay with me here! Meditation will teach you mindfulness which can be crucial in listening to your body and what it is telling you. It can reduce stress and increase your quality of thoughts. When you are truly in tune with your mind and body you’ll know exactly when to train and exactly when to rest. Like all the points here it can take as little as a few minutes per day but could revolutionise your outlook on life and dramatically increase performance. There are many guided apps you can download to your phone if you don’t know where to start.
Positivity: the above four points lead nicely into my final one. If you can see the positive in any situation it makes dealing with setbacks far easier to handle. Rather than seeing the interval you didn’t complete, think about the ones you did. Rather than being hung up on the hill that defeated you, think about how far you have come on your journey or how much better off you are being on your bike than on the sofa. Once you can completely change the way your brain reacts to certain situations you’ll no longer fear hills or time trials, training hard or long, and once you remove that mental barrier you’ll attain your potential far quicker.