Mental Skills

Cyclist on race
Photo by Jacek Dylag / Unsplash

When we face the cold hard steel of challenge, that’s the moment of real truth. The hardest course, that deadly cross wind, that choppy swim, that stifling heat, that annoying competitive nemesis that you cannot drop.

What is bringing out in you? Notice what’s coming up in you:

Forget your metrics, this is far more important!

Challenge reveals our unconscious content. We all default back external focus when the challenge gets truly rough. When you hit that moment in your process and you feel the contracting force that moves back towards resistance, you just received an opportunity.

Are you going to take that opportunity and grow, or are you going to contract and stall? If you are reading a book and you look away every time you read something challenging, you will learn nothing.

You will finish the book having missed the whole point. You will be none the wiser, right?

That is a metaphor for training and racing. So that contraction you are feeling when the situation doesn’t fit the picture you have in your head, that is your chance to truly learn how to overcome anything thrown at you.

Triatleta durante la carrera a pie por el Paseo Marítimo Antonio Banderas de un triatlón celebrado en Málaga.
Photo by Quino Al / Unsplash

We think the pain is out there on the course, but if you pay close attention you’ll become aware that the issue is not on the course at all but in your response to it. The challenge is bringing unconscious pain with it.

It’s uncovering all the hidden spots in you that you’ve hidden away because you think it’s too painful to feel. Watch your responses, write them down, follow the contraction in training, where do I feel this? What does it say?

Then learn to do the opposite of what your mind wants to do. Don’t run, stay put. Allow it all! Let the contraction come, let the resistant thoughts come, but notice it, watch it, stay with it, allow it.

Now you are bringing your unconscious content to the surface. You are making the unconscious conscious. Trust me, as a long term coach in sport, there is nothing you can do as an athlete that will be as profoundly life changing in terms of performance.

Don’t kid yourself, the biggest competitor you have is between your own two ears.