"It's hard to hit the ball when all you can think about is striking out." ~ Unknown
If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you spend hours and hours on your bike, both inside and outside, training to reach your goals. We upload our data to Strava, Connect, and Training Peaks, looking at the metrics that are important to us. Most likely, you know your weekly volume and/or distance, and may go well beyond this with your average speed, maximum speed, elevation gain, average power, normalized power, kilojoules, average cadence, intensity factor, training stress score, variability index, and on and on.
When was the last time you sat down and trained your brain? We ride hard and purposely go out in adverse conditions and call this developing our "mental toughness." And while this is true and can help us to cope with difficult events and less than ideal environmental conditions, most of us can spend more time training one of, if not the greatest limiter: our brain. At some point, and unfortunately for most, it's at many points in our cycling career, we experience times of self doubt and mentally "cracking."
And the list goes on and on.
I found a great resource to at least get you started on properly training your brain. Sports Psychology for Cyclists is a wonderful read, co-authored by Dr. Saul Miller and Peggy Maas Hill. It's not just the theory behind what is becoming more and more popular in all levels of sports these days, but techniques with drills to practice these techniques. It takes time and effort, and is perhaps not as much fun as going out and riding your bike, but the results will speak for themselves. The book has a great flow switching back and forth between the authors, with many anecdotes to help the reader see the connections.
If you find this intriguing, there are also some great resources available on Youtube that are worth checking out. Here's a few for example:
It's All About the Mind: The Psychology of Cycling
Applied Practice in Sport PsychologyThe Psychology of Suffering - How to Handle the Pain
Take your next rest day to train your brain!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.