Experts are always spewing out stats that ‘racing is 10% skill, 10% fitness and 80% mental toughness.’ I don’t think anyone really knows the correct percentiles but I believe that mental ‘toughness’ does play a huge role in our successes or “failures”. Mental toughness is perhaps the hardest part to build or ‘work-out’ and I feel there are many building blocks to it. Part one is maybe the easiest, being prepared.
When I’m in the start gate at a race I don’t want to be second guessing anything that I’ve done or about to do. That is why it’s so important to cover all the small parts of your training and life. Use your time in the off-season on the bike or in the gym to put in more then what you want to get out. We train to practice, not to race. We train so we can do those practice laps all day, everyday and still have strength to do one full on, everything we’ve got run at the end of the weekend. Or if you’re focusing on an event like the Gran Fondo, you train so you can ride and recover better the months and weeks before the event itself.
I know when I’m sitting in the start gate that my bike is clean, it’s shifting, my brakes are powerful and my suspension is set up for the course. I know that I did the right amount of practice runs, my jersey is tucked in, my number plate is straight and my timing chip is on my fork. I know that I spent my entire winter in the gym and on the bike doing what I can to become stronger than the year before. I can forget anything from the moments before and focus on the next 3 minutes because that is what I can control at the time.
When it comes to your everyday life, don’t cut corners. Complete things with intentions and let that carry over into your competitive life. Cover the small parts to help you complete the big ones. Being prepared is one of the easiest things you can do to build your confidence.