The Athlete's Mindset
You are that person in your group of friends who stops going out on the weekend in favor of an early morning epic winter training slog, or that Summer “GSD” (Get Sh** Done) ride. Tennessee cyclists, you know what I’m talking about! Every mile has its own challenge and you love the pursuit of that challenge. You are that person who makes social choices around your sport, because you know that sleep is critical to performance. You come home from a ride and immediately start fueling for tomorrow’s ride because you want to stack training days. You are FOCUSED, you are OBSESSED! Regardless of age or experience, you have a common bond to anyone in search of their own best performance.
You are an ATHLETE.
Want the honest truth? It’s hard to be different. Cycling as a youth, young adult, masters racer, or senior is NOT a common life choice. Most of the world operates such a vast percentage of their life on autopilot because work is tiring, family is important, and it’s not that easy to dig deep in those hard workouts, eat well, get to sleep on time every night, and juggle all of the above at the same time.
BUT! Do you want to be just like everyone else, average? Normal? Or do you live for that adventure, that seemingly impossible challenge, the test of self?! Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re planning your attack of the pedals.
Regardless of where you are in experience, or years in the game, if you ride a bike or partake in any athletic endeavor on a regular basis, you ARE an athlete, and when you look at youself in the mirror remind yourself that everyday! We have to set targets both big and small, but the impossible goal, that far far away would only happen in a perfect world and the stars align, might be the one that helps us grow the most.
For example, when you first try to complete a Century ride, it seems so incredibly far! 100 miles is indeed a long way, but after you complete 5 I guarantee you see the challenge through a different set of eyes than you did before, because you are no the same person as before, you have made changes in your mind that go beyond physiology!
Simply internalizing that concept and continuing to move that impossible goal further and further away will make you a better student to the training and consistency it takes to be at the top of your game!
Evolution Has designed us to search out Comfortable, So Search out the UNCOMFORTABLE
Part of having an Athlete Mindset is learning to suffer. To go further and harder than you previously thought possible. In this instance we aren’t even talking about training adaptation, we are simply talking about Grit, and the ability to JUST KEEP GOING.
Human nature has designed us to instinctually pursue easy living. We used to have to deal with extreme temperature swings and regular bouts of hunger. Life was not always this easy, and that’s an understatement! We now have have jackets and central heat and air to keep us from dealing with the elements like cold and heat. We can get food delivered to our door, we shop with 1 click from our smartphones, and we can take electric scooters all around most cities instead of walking! We WANT things to be easy, but this has a consequence. We as a global society have become soft.
Our bodies have warning bells that go off in our brain when we start to suffer that tell us WE CAN’T, and STOP, in bold loud painful waves when we are exercising. Yes we are building up lactic acid in our muscles, and yes as we fatigue we start to run out of glycogen, and metabolic waste eventually reaches levels that aren’t sustainable, but all of those pain signals are coming from our brain. There is no dial that says LOW GLYCOGEN SLOW DOWN, it’s just something we sense as it becomes harder to stay on the pedals. This built in buffer is meant to engage far before our true physical limit in order to protect our brains and internal organs.
Navy Seal David Goggins and author of “Can’t Hurt Me” decided that his internal governor happened at 40% of his capacity. He doesn’t try and argue that this value was established with scientific studies or tests, because he doesn’t need to. Navy seals, amongst many other hardened warriors of past and present, have been hardening their minds through brutal training regiments and intense short bouts of seemingly impossible training like the Seal’s “Hell Week”(take our word for it or look it up. It’s brutal!)
Goggins has completed more than 60 ultra running events over 100 miles. RUNNING 100 MILES! Any ultra runner including Goggins has to have rigorous training habits to complete events like this but he would argue that the real challenge, and what he was training most, was his mind. The 40% value doesn’t matter, rather it’s the idea that YOU CAN even when part of your brain is telling you “F NO I CAN’T DO THIS”. You can override it, at least temporarily, and overtime you will harden yourself into an athletic warrior!
Food is Fuel
The old “you are what you eat” phrase couldn’t be more true. Ride Nutrition before and after riding is important to constantly consider if you want to see consistent growth. You can't be ON 100 percent of the year, so remember when you are in competition and training mode, really go for it. Half assing your effort will get you a watered down version of what you are truly capable of. Time and time again we see athletes that have incredible training discipline yet can’t get their nutrition dialed. Reach out to us and WE WILL HELP YOU! But remember, to read Ride Nutrition to cover your basics. Learning what to eat and when and adopting long term habits is a challenge but over time you will get more accustomed to this as part of a lifestyle if you choose to make the effort!
Not all calories are created equally. In order to keep up a consistent training diet, you need to eat accordingly. Making smart decisions in the kitchen can mean finishing a hard training block hard or running out of steam and not making the most of the hours of training you have painstakingly prioritized.
JUST KEEP GOING
At the end of the day, you have to have the right combination of planning and mental fortitude to find the success everyone dreams of when trying to become an athlete. It is possible to find your best self and to do things you never dreamed could be possible, but it’s going to take hard work, and a lot of it. Just keep going. Failure is going to be your best teacher, but don't beat your head against a wall by making the same mistakes month after month, year after year.
Feeling the urge to get stronger? Something in this post resonate with you? Figure out what your goals are and get in touch with us. We want to help EVERYONE find their best self through cycling!