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The mind game

27 June 2016 No Comment



Yesterday we lined up for the first epic training day of the season, it’s an early start with quite a few not on board yet.

That’s OK, it gave a few of us the chance to revise our feeding strategy and check where we are physically. The day started on the coldest morning we’ve felt in south east Queensland for five years, 1.5-2C on the car thermometers at our meeting place in the Gold Coast hinterland. Damn cold by our standards.

You can dress for those sort of temperatures OK, but our ride is an all day affair with lots of climbing, and what you start out in, you have to carry throughout the day. So most of us were under dressed for the first two hours. This ride is called the “Five Mountains Ride”, it has five climbs of between 5kms and 10kms plus about fifty significant hills scattered between the major climbs. It covers 170km.

It’s a physical and psychological test. It also is heavily dependant on getting feeding and pacing right as it finishes with the toughest climb last, around eight to nine hours into the day. I will often include the ride in someone’s program when they seriously do not feel ready. In fact often they fear the day. But the best human qualities often come out in a situation where overcoming fear is the main obstacle.

Once an athlete has faced a fearful situation and pushed through to completion, they rise to a new level. Those who don’t perform the way they’d like to, will have another opportunity. If the training sessions done between now and the next “test”, are done with a strong goal in mind, next time will be different.

Mental strength is not something you start working on two or three weeks out from your major goal, it’s a way of living. It’s something you work on every morning when the alarm goes off. Every day is an opportunity to feed yourself like a champion, sight your goal and do something that will make you more “ready” for the days training, more ready for the next test.

Preparing well and performing better in these tests, will take the athlete up another level, better prepared for the major races. No-one is going to do well in these tests unless they set out to do well in them. Going further, holding it together mentally, being strong and helping others, all these things can make the next test a more positive experience. A bigger win for you.

Most people don’t realise that these big days are team effort, the toughness of the event causes the individuals to dig deeper than they have before. The fact that we re-group at several key points, keeps it as a group effort. When we have a wide range of abilities present I divide the group into two groups, not a bunch of individuals. There is a strong, bonding element in an event like this. A similar feeling to what we have when we all line up for an Ironman race, the day after we all feel closer.

Above all, what we gain mentally is invaluable.

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