Mental Toughness Part 2: Visualization

One of the most powerful training tools is visualization. I also find it the hardest. I’m often asked if I ever get afraid while I’m riding downhill. I always say that while things can be scary as long as you can see yourself doing it in your mind, then it shouldn’t be a problem. I still get nervous but I have the confidence that it’s possible. If I can’t even picture myself doing a certain move I know it isn’t the time to try.

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When you get on the bike or go to the gym it’s easy to do the movements and turn your mind off. But visualization is 100% in the mind and with busy schedules, stress and all the other things life throws at us it’s the hardest to calm, focus and run through the exercises. But it’s like anything, start small and build.

Begin with everyday activities. See them how you want them to happen. I find lying in bed in the morning or in the evening is the best time, as I’m relaxed and comfortable. Try picturing everything in first person and then third person, watch yourself like you’re in a movie. When you get better start seeing your riding and training.

Visualize everything about race day, the noise, the smell and how you feel. Picture yourself riding the best race you’ve ever done, if you crash or slow down, rewind and do it again until you’ve just done the best ride of your life…all while lying in bed. If you have a favourite trail or circuit you train on regularly visualize it before you ride and time how long it takes you to complete it. Then compare that to your actual time. Betting is you’ll be way off your first couple times, but it’s pretty cool how close you can get with some practice.

There are many books that can help you get started and keep you on track. My favourites are, ‘Thinking Body, Dancing Mind’ by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch.  Also ‘The Pursuit of Excellence’ by Terry Orlick.

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