The biggest, or should I put it like this; the most important race and the finale of the UAE cycling season, was just around the corner. It’s not the hardest race due to its shorter distance of 75K and pretty much completely flat, but it is an important race to me as in previous years we have seen some rather generous prizes; prizes that potentially could make a significant difference to me.
One week prior to this race, and upon my return from the Danish Championships, I was suddenly faced with fatigue. Day after day I struggled to hit my training targets, I found every training session extremely tough, I bonked before completing my intervals, I got demotivated and worried.
The week leading up to the race, my coach ordered me off the bike, 5 days completely off. Don’t touch your bike! I am not sure if I have ever spent 5 days off the bike. The days went by, and I had no idea how I felt, other than increasingly feeling more and more lazy and lethargic. The night before race night arrived; I asked boss (my coach): “Boss, please can I take my bike out to see how I feel?” – The answer was simple and clear: “No”. Okay, I got a little upset, I felt I needed some clarification on how I was feeling. But I listened. I trusted. I had to.
On the 5th day off the bike, the day of the race, I was lying on my couch with me feet up and hydrating on coconut water. I was unbothered, my vision a bit blurred, I had a mild form of headache, my body felt heavy and switched off. I had zero ‘go-get-attitude’. No fire. Adrenalin vanished. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. I got worried about myself, just 7 hours before the race.
3 days prior to race day, and in the middle of my time off the bike, I had been fortunate to be invited to share my journey on a podcast episode (this will be launched on iTunes July/August 16). I was interviewed by two amazing coaches (coaches in peak performance, life and nutrition) and after we had finished the podcast recording, I confided in them and revealed my worries for race day. I shared my current mental state of mind.
I took away 2 tips that were going to prove to help me completely change my mind set! Thank you Pivotal Mind.
1. There is no such thing as ‘try’. You do or you don’t.
2. Yes, you might feel like this, but……. (create positive outcome)…
So here I was, on my couch, 7 hours before the race, where I was ‘trying’ to create these sentences in my head. But they were not sticking. They were not really convincing. The thoughts by themselves didn’t seem to be powerful enough. I had to go deeper.
I then wrote a letter to myself:
(for those of you following my journey on snapchat, you saw me write this letter).
I read the letter to myself over and over again. I had to convince myself. I had to change my mind set. I wanted to change my mindset.
Here is what happened as we took off from the start line in the dark at 10:30pm and headed out on our 1st lap, 2nd lap, 3rd lap and all the way until I crossed the finish line:
I felt EXACTLY like I had outlined it in my letter! EXACTLY! Nothing could take this away from me. As I settled into the race, I knew I had everything in me that day to perform to my best ability, mentally and physically.
Of course, in cycling racing we are never in full control ourselves; unforeseen external factors, punctures, crashes, mechanical breakdowns, other riders’ actions or mistakes, or even other people on the course, spectators, volunteers etc. they can all have an impact on us. An impact that we are not in control of and that simply can bring us either good luck or bad luck. That’s cycling racing! And every cycle racer will go through the whole cycle.
On that night, I fully believed in my strength. I fully believed in the benefits from resting. I fully believed in my control of myself. I fully believed in my preparation. I fully believed in my coach’s advice. I fully believed in my skill. And I fully believed I had worked hard enough to deserve this. From within myself, every piece of the puzzle was in the right place. That one last piece would be down to good luck or bad luck.
I am an amateur cyclist, I didn’t win the World Championships. I am not the best cyclist in the world, not even close.
However, none of that matters. What matters is The Power of Positive Thinking.
Snapchat = hellebve