Competing in cycling and triathlon requires a huge investment of time, energy and commitment. It’s no secret that if you want to achieve your personal goals, your training is going to be physically demanding.
What is less obvious, or at least not talked about nearly as often, is the emotional demand training and competition can put us under, and just how vital managing this can be to our finishing times.
I think we can all recognise the power of a little determination on our performance. It’s the difference between a steady climb on the bike or getting out of the saddle and pushing for the top. It is the reason why we’ll add an extra loop to a training run when we are already tired, or even just up our pace for the last stretch to the finish line.Our attitude can have a far greater effect on our season than a little bit of grit on a tough section of a course, however.
In his latest video, sports psychologist for Matrix Pro Cycling Jack Blake talks about how an athlete’s perspective can change over a season or career, and how managing this perspective can have a profound effect on the rider’s ability to compete at the top of their sport.
The advice he gives is used by Matrix riders Laura Trott and Elinor Barker, both of whom are in line to qualify to ride on the track at the Rio Olympics.
While the Olympic Games are a long way from our ambitions as amateurs, the advice he gives can be just as valuable for us competing in triathlon and cycling events throughout the year.
Every season will come with its highs and lows. A good result early on can set you up for a successful season. A tougher than usual race due to stress, fatigue or the beginnings of a cold can leave you wondering why you even bothered showing up, and an injury at the wrong time can see an entire years effort knocked out.
Many racers will discuss the dreaded DNF as the lowest point they could reach, insisting they’d rather crawl over the line hours after the last competitor than not finish a race. While hopefully avoidable with proper preparation, you’ll be hard pressed to find an event that doesn’t have a handful of DNFs at the bottom of the time sheet.
How quickly you recover emotionally from this or any manner of setback determines how soon you’re likely to get back to the physical side of race training, and what your attitude to those training sessions is likely to be. Achieving this, Jack Blake explains in his video below, is avoiding looking at your successes and failures in isolation, but considering them in the perspective of your racing career.
It is inevitable that we will suffer these highs and lows as enthusiasts and competitors, but how we respond can make all the difference. By learning how to put the ups and downs into the proper perspective, we can learn from the good times and recover quickly from the bad.