Mind over matter? First things first

Let’s start to get into mental skills for athletes in more detail! But first, we need to assess whether our physical needs have been met so that we can perform to the best of our ability.

The very first thing to ask yourself when you get on the bike and…

  • the workout feels too hard; or
  • you can’t focus on the workout/race; or
  • you feel grumpy and have negative thoughts about your cycling/performance/the group/the event, etc.; or
  • the legs aren’t responding/feel “flat” or heavy (not sore)

… is not related to mental skills at all.

Instead, ask yourself:

  1. Is my nutrition on point? Am I well fueled for this workout?
  2. Did I sleep well/enough last night and/or the night before?
  3. Have I been going too hard on a ride/workout the day(s) before without adequate rest/recovery (look at the past 7 days)?
  4. Did I do anything physically demanding that is out of the ordinary recently?

If the answers to 1 and 2 are “yes” and the answers to 3 and 4 are “no”, then you may move on to mental skills territory.

Sounds basic, I know, but sometimes we forget or are not sure how to eat well for the demands of the day. How many of you ask yourself questions 1-4 every time you believe your performance is below your expectations?


@Coach_Theia, I know these physical things affect performance and the perception of performance as well as overall mood. Where does the tiredness that mental stress, ie jobs and other life stressors, play into performance?

That will be a separate topic @bkolden!!

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3 and 4 always. 1 and 2 most of the time. And then I throw in 5: How are my allergies? :smiley:


@Coach_Theia, ugh, the questions. my answers are sometimes opposite. “NO” to 1&2, and “YES” to 3&4. YIKES!!!

I am really trying to work on 1&2. SLeep has been a menopause issue. SO I cannot count on that all the time. Sleep is wasted on the young!


For me:
1 is maybe, sometimes (okay, probably not)
@gosimrr I am with you on #2 (I was a good sleeper until menopause)
3. Maybe
4. no

1 all the way for me. If I’m not getting what I want out of my body, my nutrition is the first thing I question. Am I eating enough of the right things, both on and off of the bike?
Also, we’ve figured out that I have an absurd amount of anxiety around hurting/injuring myself during a really hard effort and I seem to be unable to push myself (fast twitch wise) as hard as I should be able to go. I know that injuring myself like that is generally unlikely and I’m working on it, but I seem to have a very active “governor” about how hard I can go. Short intervals helped a lot.

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Let’s do an experiment then! Chose a week that is not a recovery week and focus on the items1-5 (see what I did there @Stefanie?) above to see how you feel and if you notice any differences in performance and/or perceived effort.

And about the food, I used to worry about gaining weight from eating too much. Over the years I learned that eating well and having plenty of carbs before/during/after workouts/hard rides is necessary and is not the reason people have trouble losing or maintaining weight. It’s usually what/how much we eat/drink in the remaining hours of the day (outside of the pre/during/post workout window) that can get us in trouble.


Sounds great. I am in.

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Ugh… my nutrition is quite frankly terrible. I am a card carrying Emotional Eater. I’m working on this and recognize that is a big sabotage of my training and cycling performance. Really hard to break those life-long habits.


I have noticed this week since starting my summer job that I’m eating more again. It is the stress. I have not resorted to sabotaging myself by eating the wrong stuff so I’m happy about that. I seem to be getting better control because I’m trying to be more mindful.

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Today I did mountain Goat 820 2.3 It was a saturday workout. I woke up with a mega sinus headache, slpet after I had breakfast woke up 2 hours later and did the ride. I had so much trouble doing this. I couldn’t manage the 8 minute block. I tried to rally for the last set and just couldn’t. I finally gave in after an hour. I thought about the 4 questions, and then thought to myself that I should have just let it be. I haven’t eaten well on vacay and I’m not hydrated. My allergies are awful today. I was glad to have this guidance instead of suffering through and brining in negative thoughts.
Hoping next week will be better.


Yep, makes sense @gosimrr! And allergies can really interfere with what we are able to to on the bike. @dfriestedt had a sore throat for over a month, even did a COVID test, turns out it was allergies- he felt run down for weeks! Also, traveling - even for vacation- takes a tool on the body: different environment, different eating patterns, then the trip itself. After a vacation is always best to start with easy rides/workouts first. Next time reach out and I will give you a few re-entry workouts.

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I had no idea how much allergies can affect you. This spring, I the doctor recommended I start taking allergy meds. I decided I didn’t need it over vacation. Well, I was wrong. We are home for two days. My inner ears are full of fluid, and I feel terrible. Today’s workout, which is one of my favorites about killed me. It took an hour nap for me to recover.


@Coach_Theia well, lesson learned. I’m still stuffed today but the headache is less. Thankfully. I’m glad @dfriestedt had allergies and not covid but a month to recover stinks!
@kellynoelharman my doctor had been helpful in figuring this out with me. Now she left the practice and I need to start with another. I’d really like an allergy test to help me figure this out better. I do have food sensitivities and are poorly on vacation. I am always worried that everyone else is taken care of that means I put myself last. :woman_facepalming:t2:

A post was split to a new topic: Day to day stress and training