Mental Skills for Cycling
“With weak legs and a good head you can go a long way. With good legs and a weak head you go nowhere.” A well known Paul Kimmage quote from Rough Ride, and most cyclists will agree with the statement. Mindset and mental strength are so important in cycling, and yet these topics are seldom discussed or written about. I believe that mastering this aspect of the sport can help to improve your performance, increase motivation, and can you get more enjoyment from your cycling. In a sport that is as mentally tough as it is physically challenging our mind can be our biggest enemy, or our greatest ally. For many riders the mental side of cycling can be challenging. With race mentality, motivation to train, and goal setting, some of the most common problems riders have in this area.
Motivation is an area that all riders have struggled with at one time or another, whether it is motivation to train, or motivation for racing. It is a common problem area for many cyclists. This time of year is especially difficult for riders who struggle with motivation. The season has come and gone, and they are now facing into months of rain, wind and cold. It can be very easy to lose hope, and let your end of season break carry on a few weeks more than planned, or to half heartedly go about your training, with no real goals or structure, attempting to just “stay fit” rather than improve.
Goal setting is also a problem area for many riders. It is all too common for riders to start a training block, or their winter training, with no clearly defined goals. Many riders will have a vague idea of “getting stronger” or “staying fit”. These vague goals are a recipe for disaster, and are one of the reasons riders find winter training problematic. Proper goal setting can be hugely beneficial, both for motivation, and for ensuring a riders continued improvement and enjoyment of the sport.
Mentality, especially during/before races, is also a thorn in the side of many riders, and can be a huge roadblock for riders achieving the results they are physically capable of. Excessive anxiety before competition has a massive negative impact on performance. At every race there is at least one rider who is a bag of nerves at the startline. Body tensed up, uneasy look on their face, heart rate creeping up through the zones before a pedal is even turned. If these riders could improve their mentality, and reduce their anxiety levels pre competition, their performances would improve hugely. Just as we can train our physical abilities, so too can we train our mental abilities, and doing this can have a huge impact on our performance.
Throughout this blog series we will give you invaluable information on how to master the various mental aspects of cycling, and help you to improve your performance in races, regain motivation to train, and get more enjoyment from the sport.