Mental Training — Don’t Forget It

Type: Intervals
Distance: 20.0 miles
Time: 1:00
Average Watts: 199 watts
Normative Power: 221 watts
Average Heart Rate: 158 bpm
Total Work: 721 kJ
Average Speed: 20.0 mph

These were some good intervals. I pushed a little harder than I usually do for this ride on the trainer for a couple of reasons. First, I am starting to work on my mental conditioning right now. And second, I was coming off of a rest day, so my legs felt pretty solid and I wanted to push them to see what I could get out of them.

I will more than likely run tonight. My good wife scheduled me a hot rock massage (what I really need is a good deep tissue massage) for Tuesday night, which means I won’t get to run then like I am scheduled to. All I can say is those rocks better be huge and they better be hot.

But holy crap, where did January go? While I got in as much training as I had planned, I sure wish I would have taken the chance to get in some extra rides and runs. If the rest of 2011 goes this fast, I am going to be old and gray before the end of the year.

Mental Training

I have been reading a lot by Matt Fitzgerald lately to try and educate myself about the latest and greatest training methods. Now Fitzgerald is a runner and writes primarily for runners and triathletes. While what he does write about does not directly discuss cycling, I think his suggested training principles do apply to cycling as well.

One topic I have focused on lately has been the mental side of training. While it is imperative that an endurance athletes trains their body, they also should train their brain. During workouts, you should be focusing on your physical performance, but you also need to look at your mental game.

So today I pushed myself a little bit harder and while I was hurting, I kept telling my brain it was alright to keep up with the harder effort. I kept telling it that it was alright to hurt a little and there was no need to slow down. I did feel kind of silly a couple of times because I was talking out loud, but according to Fitzgerald, this type of mental conditioning will help you continue through the rough patches of a race.

Imagine you are on mile 20.0 of a marathon and instead of thinking, “oh crap, I am bonking, time to walk,” you remember back to your training days and bring to mind the image of you on one of your training runs where at mile 20.0 you were feeling strong and running well. This is the part of your mental game that needs work.

When I am in a maintenance mode and not training for as many hours as I would during a build  or speed phase, my mental game is what goes. I am starting a little early working on the mental aspect of my performance, but I think it will help me once I am able to start putting in the hours that I should.

Speaking of mental training, I am not including torture. Here is a video I shot of my niece at my son’s piano recital on Saturday. She was covering her ears for most of this video until she figured out I had the camera on her. I think her reaction to the piece being played is hilarious, but that may be tainted by my “Uncle Mike” goggles…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...