Negative thinking, especially during difficult rides, will hurt your cycling confidence and prevent you from riding your best. If you're ascending a long, steep climb and negative thoughts such as "I'm going to bonk" or "I can't hang with this group," pop into your head, chances are you're going to give up. What's worse, if you continue to think negatively when you train or race, it can create bad habits that are hard to break.
Bad habits, as it relates to your confidence, are just like bad technical habits: the more you repeat the behavior, the more ingrained it will become. You'll get better at being negative, and that isn't a good thing.
Fortunately, negative thinking can be retrained with awareness, control and repetition. The goal is to engage in enough confidence-building practice that a new positive-thinking habit replaces your negative thoughts.
Let's look at several strategies that you can use to build your confidence and engage in positive thinking when cycling becomes difficult.
The Cyclist's Litany
The cyclist's litany is a group of statements that will help you to let go of negative thinking and increase confidence in your ability to ride your best. As with any habit, the only way to correct negative thinking is to practice being positive.
The litany is similar to a practice drill that many cyclists use to learn good technical skills. With repetition, you can retrain negativity and turn it into positive thoughts.
Here's an example of a cycling litany:
1. I love to train and race.
2. I am committed to giving my best effort in everything I do.
3. I think and speak positively on and off my bike.
4. I give 100 percent focus and effort when I train and race.
5. If I focus on riding my best rather than winning or losing, I will succeed.