Much of the writing about mental conditioning talks about what an athlete should do but leaves out how the athlete should actually do it. There are a lot of, “you ought to” and, “you should,” but not much about specific techniques.
Here we give you two important questions to ask yourself, the answers to which will give you specific actions to take, both intended to enhance your motivation and focus your efforts toward those actions which will give you the best training and racing results.
Powerful Question #1
The day before your big race, will you say, “I wish I had done these things months ago?”
You want to go into your most important races as well prepared, as fit, rested and healthy as possible. None of those things are possible the day before the race. You have to achieve them in the months before the race. As in, starting now.
You might say to yourself, “I wish I would have done all those strength training sessions. I know they would have helped, but too late now”, or, “All of those long rides that I missed would have been a great foundation for the rest of my plan.”
Come race day, don’t be worried about all the things you should have done but didn’t do.
Identify those things now, while you have time to do them, and plug them into your training plan.
- Step 1. Identify your most important race coming up. Imagine yourself the day before this race, getting prepared for race day.
- Step 2. Ask yourself, “What do I wish I had done to prepare for this race?”
- Step 3. Write down the answers then review your list. Which ones make the most sense?
- It is not feasible to say, “I wish I had done an average of 30 hours of training per week”. Instead, think of what you can actually accomplish given your specific situation. Do not compare yourself to others.
- Step 4. Apply those steps to your training plan. Put those activities from Step 3 into your training plan over the weeks and months until your race.
- Step 5. Imagine yourself now at the day before the race, and you can honestly say that you did all those things on the list from Step 3. Feel now the feeling in your body and your emotional sensation with the knowledge that you really actually did all those things. Now take a little pinch of the feelings you feel and sprinkle those feelings along your training plan, from now until race day.
This technique will get you set up for the race. Here is a second technique that will help you perform strongly during the race.
Powerful Question #2
Sometime before the race, ask yourself, “The day after the race, what do I want to say about my race?”
- Step 1. Write down the answer. This could range from, “I paced my bike correctly and executed a great run and overall race” to, “I nailed my nutrition plan”. Again, these are more process oriented goals. Don’t write down, “I won my division”.
- Step 2. List those things you will do during the race to be able to say what you wrote down in Step 1. For instance, if you wrote down something about your nutrition plan, you would want to list all of the ways you would work on refining your nutrition plan for race day.
- Step 3. Now, in your mind’s eye, run a video exactly as you wish the race would go tomorrow, including those things in Step 3.
- Step 4. Run the same movie in fast motion so that it takes less than 10 seconds. By running through the movie so quickly you will develop a memory in your mind, but a memory of something that hasn’t happened yet. During the race, your mind will say, “Oh, this. Yeah, I remember this. We know how to do this.”
Both of these techniques will get you ready to race with full confidence and no regrets. Each of them takes less than three minutes to finish. Do you have six minutes to improve your race? The athletes who do will have a great day.