Friday, June 15, 2012

Confidence: let a strong will be your guide

Racing season is in full swing.  Its time to put yourself to the test, to make the training pay off.  You did the work.  You got up early, you worked out late.  You rode the trainer for hours when there was snow on the ground.  You diligently logged your workouts and studied your splits.  You cleaned up your diet, cut back on alcohol and treats, stayed hydrated, went to bed early.  You have discussed race plans, nutrition, and strategies with your coach.  Now its time to test your limits, to see what your body can do.  But that is only part of the equation.  Its also time to see what your brain can do.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Olympic cyclist, Rebecca Twig.  “You can accomplish so much with a strong will.  Just do your best.  No matter what.  Don’t let negative thoughts creep in.  Don’t talk yourself out of anything.”  Let’s break take a moment to break this down.  1) You can accomplish so much with a strong will.  Look how far you have come in your training!  You and your coach have set a series of realistic, attainable goals.  Each workout and race have made you stronger.  It was your strong will that got you here.  Let your strong will continue to be your guide.  2) Just do your best.  No matter what.  Don’t worry about what anyone else does on race day.  Just stay focused on yourself,  and do the best job you can do.  Stay positive and confidence will be yours.  3) Don’t let negative thoughts creep in.  You cannot afford to worry.   Negative thoughts might pop up here and there.  What if I have a bad race?  What if my nutrition falls apart?  What if (fill in the blank)?  This type of worry saps race day energy.  Do not doubt yourself.  Stop these thoughts as soon as they enter into your head.  Sing a song.  Say a mantra.  Fight hard to keep negativity and race day worry out of your head.  You did the work.  Trust in your training and in yourself.  5) Don’t talk yourself out of anything.  Do not give yourself an “out.”  Yes, there are times when training or race day conditions are not ideal.  You may have to shift your strategies.  If you race and train smart, you will be successful. 

My best and most memorable races happen when I am able to let go of worry and let a strong will be my guide.   Putting aside self-doubt takes practice.  Give it a try during one of your workouts.  If a negative thought starts to creep in, push it aside.   Use a mantra, song lyrics,  or say a word that give you strength.  Think of a memory that makes you happy.  Over time, you will create new mental pathways.  If you practice staying focused and confident, it will become the path your brain will take on race day. 

A good coach will help you set achievable and fulfilling goals, and put you on track with proper training.  A good coach will boost your confidence and mentally prepare you for race day.  Listen, and use the tools your coach has given you.   Let your strong will be your guide. 

Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun

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