The challenge cyclists face is that different types of races and even different points in a race require different levels of intensity. Sometimes you need to be really relaxed and other times you need to be in a full froth of adrenalin and aggression. How do you juggle and mix your psychological intensity?
The challenge for intensity in cycling is that different types of races and even different points in a race require different levels of intensity. Sometimes you need to be really relaxed, for example, during a long and flat stage, to conserve energy for an approaching climb. At other times, such as in a short criterium or during a sprint, you need really high intensity to generate power and speed.
The key is to have tools in your toolbox that you pull out to get to that ideal intensity when you need to.
Psych Down Tools
It's natural to feel some increase in your intensity before a race. You're putting yourself to the test and want to do your best. But when that intensity turns to anxiety that can hurt your performance, it can be a problem. Anxiety creates muscle tension, inhibits oxygen intake and just makes you feel physically uncomfortable, all of which will slow you down on your bike.
But rather than just resigning yourself to feeling nervous and having a bad ride, you can take active steps to reach and maintain your ideal intensity so you can ride your best. There are a number of simple psych-down techniques you can use to get your intensity back under control.
Take a Deep BreathWhen you experience over-intensity, one of the first things that's disrupted is your breathing. It becomes short and choppy and you don't get the oxygen your body needs. The most basic way to lower your intensity is to take control of your breathing by taking slow, deep breaths.
Deep breathing has several important benefits. It ensures that you get enough oxygen so your body can function well. By getting more oxygen into your body, you will relax, feel better have a greater sense of control. This increased comfort will give you more confidence and enable you to more easily combat negative thoughts (which are often the cause of the over-intensity).