I often get the question, "how are you always there?" In the past 9 years I have only missed a top 5 World Cup Overall position once. This doesn't mean I don't have bad days, I just try to keep them as few as possible.
When things go off the rails it is usually, unsurprisingly, for one of two reasons.
Your head space
Some rider’s battle for consistency is less about them not working hard enough, but working too hard, too inconsistently or with an unbalanced approach. Rest days are important for both your brain and body. A yearly plan with a consistent routine of structured training stress and rest is critical.
Develop a good plan with your coach and trust in it. Don’t rush your training. Be consistent week to week, month to month. Focus when you need to focus, relax when you don’t. Have fun. Know when more is more and when less is more, but do the work.
If you do not train with consistency throughout the year, you cannot expect to race with consistency.
A strong head starts with knowing your goals. Why are you doing this? What lights your fire? What do you need to do to get where you want to go? How long will it realistically take? Are you willing to commit the time?
If you know why you love pushing yourself, what you get out of racing and what you need to do to reach your goals you will have more focus, commitment and less self-doubt. You’ll know the work you did to get you to the start line, why you are ready. You’ll have hit smaller goals on your way to that bigger one. You’ll be calm, confident focused, prepared.
Keep in mind that consistent performance doesn’t necessarily mean winning, it means finding your best repeatedly. It is all too easy to only remember our best performances and under-appreciate the good performances we have worked hard for. Value a good performance, let it build your confidence, let it show you how to also have the occasional great one.
Stay Positive. I have never met a pessimistic successful athlete. To find your best you have to believe achieving it is possible. You have to be able to spring back after defeat and stay focused on moving forward. You have to be able to keep hard days in perspective. You have to make your goals come true, no one else is going to do it for you.
Despite a lot of success, I have also had some pretty disappointing races. When I think back on them and the months leading in it is usually pretty easy to identify a change in my mental or physical preparation. Sometimes I didn’t pay enough attention to fatigue warning signs and back off. Sometimes I focused too much on my top end and let my base erode or I skipped a planned rest. Sometimes I didn’t know what I truly wanted out of my race so didn’t find it. Sometimes I didn’t respect the demands of the race or my competition sufficiently to enter properly prepared. I have let media or others set my race goal and what results have value rather than deciding for myself. I have focused on a result, not execution of a performance, and enabled myself to get derailed when off target and I will probably have one of these catch me out again. I’m human.
|The London Olympics was far from a dream ride and the hardest disappointment to bounce back from|
But to prevent this from happening too often I prepare mentally and physically for the demands of each race. I try to value each performance I worked hard for. I trust in my team, my coach, mechanic, manager that they have all done their jobs well. I don’t stress about my competition or the weather; I prepare for them. I know what I want and the work that I have done and why that work and desire can make me successful. Even though I’ve done a hundred races I set new specific goals and plans of attack for each one so that when I line up I am calm, focused, confident, prepared.
It’s a new year, a new season. Make the most of it.