Focusing on the tasks in the race, not end result

… is my biggest mistake I have done again and again and again! I have always heard pro´s saying that they focus on the job in the race, the tactics etc, not the end result. I never really understood how I was paying attention to the wrong stuff and spending energy on things I cannot control. I did sort of get some help with a mental coach a few years back but I guess I wasnt able to implement that mindset.

I´ve spent time checking out the competition, focusing how to beat this woman og that woman, and just picturing the end result, but not the actual work I have to lay down to get a desired end result. So much wasted energy! This year I will focus on the race, the terrain, feeding, nutrition, where´s the hills, where´s the difficult sections (MTB) where can i use my strenghts. Not the people around me :slight_smile:

Ive tried this approach in the last couple of Zwift races and it works! It´s much more fun, more empowering, and the end result is not as important as evaluating and learning from how I solved different challenges in the course of the race.

Anybody else have the same reflections?

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Most definitely @Silje! Who doesn’t want to podium? When I first started cycling 5 years ago I was out of shape and so I didn’t care how I placed, I was happy just to finish. But as I got stronger I started having expectations and would then be disappointed when I didn’t get the results.

Now I enjoy the process and don’t focus on the results so much. That’s not to say I am totally chill about everything. I frequently have to remind myself to race my own race/ ride my own ride and stop comparing myself to others or worrying about what they are doing. I have to trust myself and the process that got me there. As long as I finish an event satisfied that I did the best I could do that day, I am happy. Then I take what I learned, because I always learn something, and apply it the next event.

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Excellent points, @Silje! I have so little experience racing that it’s all new to me but what you wrote certainly resonates. Thinking back to the Fearless Women’s Championship, I remember feeling frustrated that my out of the gate speed wasn’t up to some of the women in my same category, but I tried to focus on what seemed possible for me to maintain over the course of a longish race with two climbs and 3 sprints. Because of that, I feel that my overall performance was better than it might have been because I didn’t burn myself out. It is all such a learning experience, including working with a professional coach and trusting that her experience will aid MY experience!

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Wow that was really my thought process last year - I would look at my competition and see what kind of power they had, how many races they had done, etc… :flushed:. I did have a goal and may have lost myself along the way- very good advice. This year I am not as driven, I am looking forward to the “ride” this year instead :cherry_blossom:

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It’s interesting, because while there is value in having goals and wanting to podium, focusing on getting a given result is not helpful…

There will always be someone faster/stronger/more experienced than you (this is true even for the pros). That does not mean they will win or beat you. But hey might. Either way, that is completely out of your control, and one of the biggest reasons comparing ourselves to others is a waste of time and valuable energy.

In 2019 I raced in the Women’s 35+ category in cyclocross (my second ever CX season = noob), against a field of Cat 2 racers. I had 6 podiums, including 3rd place in the State and 3rd place in the Chicago Cross Cup Overall Series. I remember looking at the racers’ profiles before the first race and telling my coach “well they are all Cat 2s, have been racing cross for over 10 years, I don’t stand a chance…” His answer “So? It doesn’t matter. You are right up there with them” :flushed:

so with that… here are my thoughts…

  • What is 100% in your control is what you can give. You can give your best effort, your state of being present and focus on the present moment. I have a mantra that I say to myself: “right here, right now”
  • The pain is not eternal. If the pace seems too high, if you think you can’t go any longer, chances are, those around you are feeling the same way. That is the moment you have to stick to it- because that is when the breakaway happens, and the group will slow down after that.
  • One of the most important aspects of training is that training allows you to know your ability. You know how hard you can push and for how long, you know which power zones you can recover from. If you know your ability and practice constantly in training, you can be confident and trust yourself.
  • There is no past, there is no future. There is only the here and now, this very moment, and what is immediately in front of you. Right in front of you.
  • The race is NEVER over until it’s over. Here are a few of my examples:
  1. USAC IL Road Race State Championships, 2018. I was in the lead group, got a mechanical going up the only steep hill of the course, had to get off my bike, fix it, walk up the hill. Lost a bunch of positions. Still finished in 3rd Place.
  2. 2019 Cyclocross season: I’ve had 2 races where I was winning, or in second by a big margin, then fell or got a mechanical and immediately lost spots, finished at the back.
  3. 2017 Rough Road 100 (gravel race). I had absolutely NO idea where I was in the race compared to the competition. It’s a co-ed race and a mass start. I just did the best that I could, and I worked so hard, every moment, without worrying about getting tired and no expectations for the outcome. I won the race and only found out when I crossed the finish line.
  4. 2019 Little Apple 100 (gravel race). I was in the lead group and got caught behind a nasty crash- big pile of bikes. Threw myself to the grass, avoided the crash and kept going… only to start suffering from a debilitating stomach bug mid-race.
  5. The “strongest person” might be having a bad day. Or she did not fuel properly for the race and blows up.
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This is super important. The pain of giving up or “sitting up” is worse than the physical pain of pushing through.

@Silje I love your reflections, and I saw how that played out last week!

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This is great @hollybw, with that you also saved precious mental energy.

@mpatton sometimes it takes a season for us to shift our perspective, and it’s a solid shift because it comes from your own experiences.

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I think one of my biggest problems, and this is probably very personal (pardon for that) Is that I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of “Loosing”, and the definition of loosing has become to broad. It can devour me before a race, the window of sucess is too small when its all about the end result, and it does have something to do with “what will other people think”. By focusing on tasks, state of mind during the race, how different situations was handled, I feel I can shift focus to something more useful, instead of telling myself “dont think on end result, dont think on end result”. A friend of mine who is a pshcylogist told me negative orders (dont do…) work very badly on us humans. We need to instead say “focus on here and now, focus on here and now” and fill that space with a positive message rather than a “dont do”-message. I dont know if I was able to express this good… language- problem.

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My kids are competitive swimmers - they swim at the State level at ages 11 and 13. My son is laid back, maybe too laid back. My daughter is very focused on results, in being better than the others. She gets so stressed out, she can’t eat before a meet.

She worries about what other people will think of her. So I joked with her and said - do you think ALL those parents on the stands are watching you and going “wow, look at Sophia!? Nope. They only have eyes for their own kids. They are not even looking at you”. Then I went on to say… and guess what else? People usually only care about themselves and think about themselves. The same way you are thinking “what will others think of me”, so is everyone else! They are so worried about what others think of them that they don’t even know who is next to them or who you are, or how you are doing. And even IF they think something of you, it will be gone and forgotten the minute they walk out of the room/building.

I know that’s a little exaggerated, but it was an effective way to get my message across to her.

The important things are only important because we make them important in our own minds. WE give them life. It is our perspective. It does not mean it is everyone else’s.

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So many great points and experiences here. Thank you @Coach_Theia.
As you say, it’s not the fastest that wins a race. It’s the smartest.
I am only doing Zwift races now. I don’t like the races in NYC. They are mostly in Central Park and way longer than I want. The most I want to do is 18 miles but those are no longer for my cat. Cat 4 is usually 4-7 laps around. I am not interested in that. And then there are grits which you need good handling skills.
When racing in Zwift I go in with a plan. I try and be flexible with it. I know what I can do and I also try to push myself. Being catD I’m not very fast and can’t produce that power, but I try to make a goal for each race. For me. A podium may never happen, and that’s ok. If I can ride and support women racing or my team, one goal has already been achieved.

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I think that’s why I like Zwift races is that I can’t psych myself out. I know the “local talent” and I’m not up to speed with them. Their recovery rides are my workouts. Some of the women here ride All. THE. TIME. When do they work??? They are single, no family, so they have time, jobs that have flexible hours and no mortgage. So we have different lives. On Zwift it’s an avatar and I can’t personalize them. So IRL I myself am my only competition. :woman_shrugging:t2:

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I agree with all of you. Thank you for sharing. This thread helps me just as much as any training session.

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