Training Mentally for Tough Rides

Danelle Kabush is a life-long athlete, a mother, and a mental performance consultant, and like us, she loves to have a nice ride on a good old two-wheeler. She is a pro-XTERRA triathlete and knows just how to survive the toughest of rides.

We can all learn from her and she’s certainly more than willing to share really useful tips. Here are some that will help you train your brain for even the most difficult rides.

Expect the Worst

A good ride is the result of calculating your routes, planning what you eat, and positive thinking. Now while optimism is all good in this regard, it also helps that you expect to encounter some bad moments throughout your ride.

Prepare yourself for such instances by knowing that the trek can end up a little difficult at some point. This is true especially when you get past three-quarters of the route, and mental and emotional preparedness for this will make it easier for you to get through the bad parts.

Learn When to Hold It In

If you’re not feeling the ride, you might already be experiencing tiredness – or are simply whining about it. Thus, it is important to learn how to determine if you are one or the other, so you can take the appropriate action.

It helps to have a protocol in place that will provide you with the necessary steps to take when you are starting to feel in a particular manner, or when you’re experiencing a certain change in your heart rate; times when you can tell that the ride is going to hurt. This will take plenty of experience to develop, however, or, according to Kabush, a good coach. You should also learn to not overdo the ride, even if you are feeling really great about it at the onset. It will only get you in a bad mood later in the day.

Do Some Fartlek Riding as a Distraction

Doing fartlek intervals refer to sprinting to a certain landmark close by. This is a concept in running, but this can also be easily applied to biking. Doing this can help a lot if you find your mind unable to keep up with the ride. Thinking how hard the ride is can easily get your mind go downward spiral. Setting short goals can distract you from the amount of distance that you still need to take and will definitely help you keep going.

Allow for the Possibilities of Failure

It is no secret that mountain biking can take a toll on your mind for both the pros and newbies alike. The difference between the two, however, is that pros know when to give up and ride for another day. Kabush, in this regard, has a three-time rule, wherein she tries to overcome a particular trail for up to three times; should she fail the third time, she’d pack up and come back to it at a different time. She claims that she will get so much nervous energy built up after three tries that she might just end up with a decreasing success rate rather than the achievement of her goal.

Don’t Abuse Group Rides

Riding with a group can help you get rid of some mental stress when riding. The catch is that you will need to engage with the group and capture their positivity in an effort to lift your own spirits.

Get Into Character

There will be times when you don’t feel so tough anymore, and this happens even if you already are a hardened biker. During such times, be sure to stay in character and keep all those negative emotions in check – or at least, under the wraps. Keep thinking about what motivates you, even if you have to fantasise about it. After the ride, though, be sure to free yourself and let go of all that accumulated emotion.

Stay Positive!

Be optimistic at all times. When at your worst, think about how lucky you are to not only be able to get out of your house but also be able to ride your bike. At the very least, you know just how to ride that beast and are able to endure what many other people cannot.

Paula R. Buckland

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