Mind Over Mountain: Mental Tips for Climbing


Do this every night before you fall asleep. Make your visualization as realistic as possible; incorporating sights, sounds, smells and sensations. If possible, imagine a particular climb that you want to conquer. You punish yourself on the bike week after week. Why not add a few minutes of training each day which won't even require you to break a sweat?

Take the Pain

This may seem obvious, but be ready to suffer. I don't mean normal suffering--I mean be prepared to push yourself past the point of pain. Often an entire ride or race comes down to one moment on the slopes. How you respond at that moment will define you as a rider.

Depending on the situation, don't worry about conserving energy and don't look at your power meter or heart rate monitor. The heart rate and power you put out in a competitive situation will be much higher than what you can handle in training. In many situations, if you ease off on the climb, your day is over anyway, so what are you saving it for? If you are suffering, chances are so is everyone else. Holding on for that additional 10 seconds could be the difference between heartbreak and a personal best. Then, if you do get dropped, at least you'll know you gave it your all.

Don't Look Up

When you look up to see the top, you get a distorted perspective of the steepness of the climb. Instead, distort your view in the opposite direction. Look straight down at the pavement in front of you. From this angle, it will appear to your brain that you are riding on a flat road--and that's not so bad is it?

Smile

Often, I catch myself making an exaggerated pain face as if to express my suffering to the world. Instead, try a smile. The brain associates a smile with pleasure and happiness. Smiling while you are climbing can trick your brain into thinking that you are not in as much pain as you think you are.

For more climbing tips from Josh Horowitz, read 7 Tips for Climbing to the Top.


Josh Horowitz is a USCF certified coach and an active Category 1 racer. For more information about his coaching services and any coaching questions you may have, check out his website, LiquidFitness.com.

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