As mental skills is a topic of increasing interest for our group, we’ll start diving into it in more detail. To help me focus the discussion and make it relevant to you, please list below about the things you struggle with the most in your training and cycling in general.
I struggle when I am starting to get good at things or I’m a contender for podium/high placements. It puts pressure on me, or I put pressure on me. It’s the same in other arenas of life too. I am very aware of it, I’ve done months of mental coaching, read books, tried different tricks and strategies but it’s still a very big thing I always have to battle…
I am also terrible at racing after a mental draining day. There are certain stress factors that always leave my legs feeling like jello and unwilling to race, like there is no ATP in my muscle. It’s a physical feeling and my theory is that my brain steals all the glucose I had stored because it’s over active…
I struggle when it comes to racing or events where other folks are “watching” of not feeling “good enough”. Predictably that is also an issue in other areas of my life especially if I know I am new or under skilled. I have a hard time giving myself the grace to be new or not strong enough and patient to gain that needed strength. I also struggle with being able to focus and have enough energy after a draining day. When I was younger I would run to deal with stress but now I just feel so drained and tired. As was said by @Silje, I also feel like my legs have no energy. The other day, I struggled with work out intervals because I felt overwhelmed with the effort of the workout and IRL issues that my mind let my legs slow down.
Thank you! Keep them coming- I am going to group these into separate topics.
Is it my mind that was weak, or I am just not physically at the point yet? As I approach my physical limit, it is hard for me to tell which factor hits the ceiling first. We have previously talked about how negative thoughts creep in when the body runs out of fuel.
I love the training session. They help me with mental stress. If I am stressed, it shows in the warm-up, it will be all over the place. Once I get into the workout, it feels good to think only about the interval and let the outside world go. After the workout, I can better handle the stress.
@Coach_Theia As I do the workout, I am carrying on a conversation with you. Most of the time, it is in my head, but occasionally it is out loud. My husband thinks it is hilarious.
Once I recover from the TTT, I am sure I can come up with several more topics.
I just saw the thread "focusing on the tasks in the race, not the end result . . " I am headed there next
This thread is going to be great!!! Today as I approached my workout for the day (Pulls in a Group) I told myself it would be ok. I was going along well when I suddenly paid attention to the physical tension during the intervals - shoulders were up, face all contorted. I am not a huge fan of the term “mindful” or “mindfulness” but that was what I did today when I realized the physical tension - I lowered my shoulders and relaxed my face. The intervals were still hard but felt better. I knew before how important being relaxed is, but realized today that I haven’t been practicing what I know.
@kellynoelharman, You have brought up a nuance I had not identified and that is almost being “afraid” of the really hard stuff, especially when others depend on me or the stakes are high.
@Coach_Theia Did we add a discussion thread for mental topics? I not sure if this is a psychological or training topic.
I could not stay away for the TTT and rode this week with Owls. They are CRYO-GEN’s fastest Mocha team. It was hard, but I was hanging in there until the last 10-15 minutes of the race. The first two laps we had an excellent time, but I cracked with 3 miles to go. We lost 3 minutes during the final lap. They would not leave me. I am very competitive, and it is hard to be why the team has a slow time. When I look at my last 4 TTT, my w/kg has not changed 2.4 to 2.3. I am frustrated that I can’t mentally make body listen at the end of these races. I can’t figure out which piece let me down today, my mind, or my body. I think I know what my next step needs to be but would love your advice on this topic.
Trainingpeaks set me a “New Heart Rate Threshold” notifications (170bpm). Now, am I suppose to make any adjustments in TP?
@kellynoelharman brought this post under here too, as I am “collecting” topics.
What did you feel that made you pull the parachute with 3 miles to go? With that short distance, I suspect it was not a physical issue that stopped you. What was the conversation you had with yourself when that happened?
Also, there is nothing you need to do regarding heart rate values. You are new to TrainingPeaks, so it does not have your whole history and as such there is no previous benchmark to compare against. Also, we do not train based on HR.
Mental toughness is something that I struggle with often enough. For me when I am on the bike doing workouts I am challenged to talk positive during portions of the workout that challenges me above what I think I can do. I try and prepare myself saying I can do it, then when pushing myself and my legs begin to hurt and I start having thoughts that it’s too tough, I’ll never do the next harder interval…and other negative self talk. I try putting up a stop sign to stop the thoughts but that is not always effective.
I am not sure if the difficulty lies within my mind, body or both. I can’t seem to figure out how to push myself beyond that point and then I usually drop my power to about 40 watts in defeat. I do this on and off the trainer.
I also will start a ride with the two guys I ride with by saying, “I’ll Try and keep up. “ almost as if setting myself up for being slow.
I’m sure there is more. I’ll be back and add more.
… I have to add in. I know intellectually what to do/not to do. But sometimes my brain just becomes a fuzz and I cant grasp for the tools.
Also, being a mountainbiker there are sometimes obstacles that needs to be done. I can struggle a lot with that, especially the point of no return/ the commitment where there is no detour or going back. I have a psychologist friend who told me negative commands like " dont break", “dont stop” dont work well on our brain because it’s very hard to not do what you are telling yourself not to do. You focus on the negative behaviour. Focus should be on the positive behaviour like " keep on", “look long ahead” " pedal hard"
This got me to do this drop under
Wow!! I can so relate to what you are saying. I allow myself to say “I can’t” or I add a caveat of “I’ll do my best” so I have an out when I fail as if I expect to fail or not be “good enough”.
I"m not sure where the line of accepting my limitations and having realistic expectations ends and striving for higher goals and pushing myself begins. @Coach_Theia recommended some book related to athletic psychology and I purchased one. Now I need to make myself sit down and read!! I’m also interested in the topic not just for myself and my athlete friends but I have the honor to work on the sidelines with an elite women’s team from my team and I want to be better able to help them and to understand the elite athletic mindset.
During the last lap, I kept falling out the back. I would put in a significant effort to catch up, and then I would hear the words I came to hate, “Okay, we are all together now let’s go.” I remember thinking I can catch up, but I can’t survive the acceleration. At this point, I tried to convince them to leave me, but they would not. We all finished together.
In all my other sports, I have always been mentally strong. I don’t understand this new habit I have at breaking at the end. I don’t like it, and I want it to go away.
OMG @Silje! That is an amazing photo! You have skills woman!
Oh @gosimrr I totally understand how you feel. I look at workouts like the surge one and my first reaction is, I have never held that kind of power for that long before, I can’t do that! Then I have to work on changing “can’t” not to “can” but to “I may or may not be able to do it BUT I CAN try.” And by trying I have to really try and not give up when it starts to hurt. I only fail if I don’t really try. And I usually surprise myself.
Lately on the VO2 and especially on the surge workout, I told myself that it was going to hurt and that it was ok that it hurt and even though it hurt nothing bad was going to happen so I could keep going for 30 more seconds. And yeah, it really did hurt and I could feel my face scrunched up into a grimace and then I’d start to laugh through the pain imagining @Coach_Theia being guilty if I died right then with that look stuck on my face
All that to say, I know you are a brave, strong woman, and smart and creative. So what could you tell yourself when it starts to hurt to help you keep going? Is it making yourself try? Is it imaging @Coach_Theia feeling guilty? Is it pretending you are in the Olympics and if you stick it out the gold medal is yours? Or maybe it’s for a recovery cupcake? The same thing doesn’t always work so you will need a few in the bag that you can pull out when it gets tough. But I know you have it in you to do it, so don’t give up trying to figure it out!
I want to admin my earlier statement. (I stepped away and gave myself a stern lecture) It has happened just a couple of times and is not a habit. However, I would like to understand it so that I can avoid it in the future.
Not something I will ever try, but love hearing about your adventures.
@Stefanie I love this line! “I may or may not be able to do it BUT I CAN try.” And by trying I have to really try and not give up when it starts to hurt. I only fail if I don’t really try. And I usually surprise myself." You are so right.
@Stefanie, there are so many things to love about this post I don’t know where to start! You have a gift for putting things PERFECTLY!
@Silje, LOVE that pic of you!
I also struggle with telling myself “I can’t” way too often. I used to joke with a local cycling friend of mine, who was very similar to me in strengths and we both love hilly rides. Our big difference is, she approaches every hill convinced she can do it and is shocked when she can’t, while I’m convinced that I can’t and am shocked when I do! So I’m drawing on this thread to try and alter my mental energy, and instead say to myself, what is the worst thing that can happen? I unclip and put a foot down and walk my bike, right? If someone were to see me and judge, they aren’t a person I’d care about anyway! So from now on, when I climb hills, I’m going to instead say, “hell yeah, I’ve trained for this, I KNOW I can make it! I might not be the fastest, but it’s MY challenge and I am going to do it!” Love all your sharing and positivity.
You go @hollybw! I love this! You can indeed!