If you practice enough in your Time Trial position, you will get stronger, learn to recruit all of your leg muscles and be able to push yourself farther and farther. Practice Time trials once a week if you really want to improve and this feeling of pushing yourself at your edge will become familiar to you. It's very important that you do not start out too fast.
Most athletes will start out too fast and then end up riding slower and slower towards the end. You should start out the first 10minutes at a pace that's just a little bit slower than you know you can do and then gradually pour on the power throughout the time trial. That's the correct pace.
You see, since you are so excited about the time trial, your perceived exertion is lower than normal for your workload in the beginning. Your adrenalin is pumping, you are ready to go, and you just launch out of the starting gate, only to have the reality of your too high workload hit you about 10 minutes down the road.
Keep telling yourself in that beginning stage of the time trial, "hold back, hold back." This is where a powermeter could come in handy to really help you hold a certain wattage.
Now, once you have been practicing and you have become familiar with pushing yourself at the edge of your workload, then you become comfortable. Comfort has a lot to do with position on your bike and as you practice more, you refine your position further, so that you are more comfortable.
Comfort in that position is VERY important. Too many people think they can slap on the Tri bars, slam the saddle forward and lower the stem the day before their Time Trial and be ready to produce a peak performance.... Good luck! Only through practicing your time trialing IN your Time trial position, will you be ready for a peak performance.
You must feel that your time trial position is like an old pair of jeans. When you get on your bike, you just fit into that comfortable space that is routine for you. WHY? Because you will be comfortable there, and that leads to the third component and most important component of time trialing.
IF you can stay focused on pushing your body to the edge and recruiting all your muscles in your legs, not just the hamstrings and quads, then you can produce a peak performance. But, this is incredibly tough and you have to be physically and mentally ready to push yourself at your highest level for a fairly long period of time.
If you can produce the same feelings in all of the legs, as you can in your Quads, then you will be focused on recruiting all muscles and turning that into speed on the bike.
Focus means staying in the present, in the moment, and nothing else matters. This is not an easy thing to do in a time trial, it's easier in a tough Criterium when you are on the front and attacking or in a breakway with others. For Focus, you must concentrate on your breathing rhythm, the sensations in the legs and nothing else.
If you find yourself looking at the trees, the cars going by, the pretty houses on the side of the road, you are not focused. This is just a trick of your mind to get you out of your limit, away from that edge. You find yourself thinking "Hey, this stuff is tough, it hurts, I don't know if I can do this" and then you ease off of the edge and start to lose your focus and that's when you let go of your possibility of a peak performance.
Focus is the most important part of the experience and allows you to push yourself to a winning time. Rest assured, it doesn't happen everytime, but if you work on the first two components, that razor sharp focus will be easier to achieve for the entire effort.
For more information on subjects related to endurance training or for any of your coaching and training needs check out Hunter and the rest of the coaches from the Peaks Coaching Group at www.peakscoachinggroup.com.
Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Elite Level coach and former Professional Cyclist. He is the co-developer of CyclingPeaks Software, and is the head coach and Founder of the Peaks Coaching Group. He has coached over 500 athletes ranging from professionals to fitness enthusiasts, and has helped many athletes achieve dreams and goals that they didn't think were possible. He specializes in coaching cyclists with wattage meters and is on the forefront coaching with cycling's newest tool. You can contact Hunter directly at Hunter@peakscoachinggroup.com or at 540-587-9025.