Training the body but not training the mind is like buying an expensive wheel set, spending three days meticulously gluing tires on and not taking five minutes to pump them up before you go out for a ride. But that is exactly what we are doing when we spend hundreds of hours a year training our body, logging data, carefully tracking nutrition and hydration, while completely neglecting the mental aspect of training.
Research has proven over and over again that athletes who practice specific exercises such as meditation, visualization and positive affirmations have an undeniable advantage over those who don't. Yet hardly anyone is willing to sit on their couch, turn off the Simpsons and work on their mental game? You don't even have to put on funny shorts or suck down smog to do it!
The Cancer of Doubt
This is an issue that I face daily as a cycling coach. As a coach that is fairly active in the daily lives of my clients, I am able to see all the little stresses and doubts that prevent the hard work we do in training to materialize into extraordinary results on the road. From a simple phone conversation, I can hear the apprehension in a riders voice before a big event and I can tell whether it's a good amount of helpful and constructive excitement or whether it has turned the corner into exhausting anxiety that will sap their energy and reduce their performance.
When on the bike, I hear them say such things as "I'm going to get killed this weekend" or "I'll never be a climber." I know that these are sometimes just playful quips, but they also represent a manifestation of doubt and negative self talk. These are insecurities that a rider has become so accustomed to that they have developed into actual truth.