How to Improve Your Race-Day Focus

Sixty down, 20 long miles to go. Caught up in the rhythm of the peloton, you float to the middle of the pack. Suddenly, you realize that while your mind has momentarily slipped out of "race" mode, an attack launched.

The realization comes too late. You jump but the break can't be reached. The race is over. You finish tired, frustrated and disappointed. You know you had the power and the skill to be at the front. So how did you miss the break?

Quality training and racing is more than the sum of your miles. To achieve peak performance, you must possess the ability to remain engaged and alert for prolonged periods of time, and be able to regain focus when faced with distractions.

More: How to Keep Your Cycling Motivation High

Often, the ability to focus for the duration of a race is what separates those at the top of the standings from riders of similar physical and technical ability. Despite the countless hours of offseason saddle time, few athletes make the effort to develop and strengthen their concentration skills.

Here are a few training tips you can use to sharpen your focus and get the most out of your race-day performance.

Auto Focus?

Aside from paying attention to traffic and the occasional enthusiastic dog, day-to-day training does not require the high level of concentration that racing demands. Training plans often fail to develop focus with the same intentional and systematic precision given to physical development.

This may be an oversight, or it may be due to the common misperception that either you have this skill or you don't. And come race day, the environment itself will not be enough to ensure automatic engagement.

More: Mind Over Mountain: Mental Tips for Climbing

Focus and concentration is not a switch that can be flipped on at will. If it were, missing the break or a turn on the racecourse would be far less common.

Quality concentration is a valuable mental "muscle" that riders need to learn how to flex and strengthen. Once harnessed, the powers of focus and concentration will enhance your ability to stay engaged across the span of a race, push through fatigue, and regain control when distractions occur.

Flex Your Focus Muscles

The offseason is the best time to work on your focus and concentration. As mileage climbs during training, the natural inclination is to "get in the groove" and "just ride."

More: The Mind of a Mentally Fit Pro

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