Cycling is just as much about mental strength as physical — and, many argue, even more so. Your abilities to push yourself and withstand pain will propel you to the next level; and, if you learn to do this effectively, the rewards can be great; your self-confidence will sky-rocket along with physical fitness.
It’s no secret that pain and cycling go hand in hand. Physiologically speaking, discomfort is a warning — our body’s way of telling us to stop. But in cycling, it’s the point at which we push on. As cyclists, we all need our own tricks to get over the pain and find out what we’re made of. Here are some top tips to help you on your way to ultimate success.
Know Your Goal
They say that everything you want is on the other side of fear. Most of us have an invisible wall of perceived limits, so pick a goal outside that wall and go for it. It could be a series of hill climbs, that race you’ve been putting off, trying out that chain gang, or going up a speed group at your club. What challenges are you afraid of?
Stronger minds — quicker climbs. It never gets any easier, you just get faster…
Challenge Yourself Daily
Every single day is an opportunity to gain mental strength. Whilst rest and lower zone rides need to be taken seriously, be strict with yourself on the opportunities you have to test yourself, and if you don’t have that many — make them. They could take the form of a solo ride twice a week where you specifically take on hills or intervals, or morning turbo sessions where the term Sufferfest can be used without feeling like a fraud (You know the ones!).
Get Some Perspective
During the grind in a session, know that the pain is transient — every climb has a summit, every session has recovery periods; there’s always an end. Focus on the temporary nature of the climb or the interval, and imagine that amazing sense of satisfaction when you smash it to the very end.
Focus on the Detail
At the opposite end of ‘bigger picture’ thinking is mindful focus — it’s been proven that focusing our minds on the detail of the moment is a great way to maintain mental consistency. So concentrate on your form, on your breathing, on maintaining your cadence, focus on a fluid motion to get you to the summit.
“Never, ever, give up” — Find your mantra.
Create your very own Toolkit
Motivation is unique, what works for one person won’t work for another, so you need to find what drives your passion and then use it. Create your own mantras and repeat them in your head, visualise yourself achieving your goal, have a favourite song at-the-ready or a special person in your mind’s eye. Once you’ve got your toolkit down, your mind will have the armour it needs to win the battle — leading to achievements you’d never thought possible.