Ridewiser MindFitness Article # 1
Do you want to create as good an outcome as you can in your situation?
This is not quite the same as ‘seeing the glass half full rather then half empty’. It’s more like ‘wearing opportunity goggles’ and using them to seek out every possible ‘plus factor’ you can find and using all of them to build more momentum with your successful output.
How does it work? The idea behind using an ‘advantage mindset’ is a bit like saying positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror before starting your day, in that combining things that propel you together in a bundle can enhance your ‘UP’ feeling and thus generate just that small advantage needed to get an edge and make a significant difference.
CYCLING STORY ANALOGY
As a fairly fast and skilled time-trial rider for the Australian Olympic Team in the early 90’s, I would constantly, almost addictively make sure I was always riding on top of the painted lines along the lane edges during time-trials.
This worked as an absolute mental advantage (if not truly saving some cycling seconds) because of the smoother, faster, slicker feel. I think it actually does gain you a measurable speed advantage if you’re (a) really good at holding a line and balancing on the 50mm of paint width, and (b) there are continuous painted lines for a solid kilometer or more, and (c) you don’t slip and fall off due to sometimes being a bit slippery – so you wouldn’t do it in the turns of the road!
I recall a section of tail-wind road over about 7km during the Australian Individual 40km National Title Time Trial in Bayles, Victoria that I won in 1991. Anyone who ever wants to win a TT event medal must do top speeds in the head-wind sections, no doubt, as its so hard to make a significant difference when the wind is behind you. The 1991 rider list was full of top time-trial riders trying to qualify for the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Team, so I also focused on getting my ‘advantage mindset’ right by doing several ‘one percent gain’ things that can make a difference on event day. This included ‘riding the paint’ at all times possible, and during the tail-wind run I found there was a well-painted center-line along the road so I rode the whole 7km at what felt like warp speed… especially with the low-resistance sensation of keeping the white line under the tires. The all-year training program I’d been doing had drummed into us team riders that it’d be best to stick to your individual anaerobic threshold (IAT) heart-rate for optimal outputs, which for me at the time was 186bpm.But on that day I ‘felt’ stronger like there were two of me, driving a ridiculously large 55 x 13 toothed gear ratio at around 125rpm (equivalent to holding 67kph) for most of the 7km tail-wind stretch. However, my heart-rate monitor was showing 196bpm – well above ‘engine blow-out’ level…
I instinctively rotated the heart-rate monitor over on the handlebars, now out of sight so I couldn’t watch the numbers, and rode riskily on a more emotionally-pumped euphoria. There was a ‘Cloud 9′ type feeling, but I just sensed the body was good to go and could step up to a new level; it won me a gold medal that day in around 52mins for the 40kms – the best time-trial performance that year for me. Later on, the coach would download the Polar monitor heart-rate readings to his PC and become alarmed at the average reading for that middle section of the event. I conceded with him that it must have been over-head power-lines distorting the heart-rate recording for some of the ride, but I saw that data screen live showing the heart-rate gradually rising as I accelerated up to the massive velocities. The monitor was correct. Sometimes, over many years of learning about the body, comparing myself and others’ mental states on different days, watching winners on their best day out, and following scientific data – sometimes, it would pay to listen to the body’s sensations rather than be restricted to the numbers.
CREATING AN ADVANTAGE MINDSET
But the key point hidden in this story is the ‘feeling of speed’ I got from doing certain things in addition to the physical effort.
To win at a competitive road cycling time-trial means to go as fast as you possibly can without blowing up, so you go at your sustainable limit, end of story. Or is it?Any technical tips or mental edge that could give you an advantage – well it’s worth it just to try it. If it can make you feel faster, then this is adding a more powerful mindset to an already maxed out physical exertion that is dependent on your lead-up training, speed work and strength efforts already done. With all that goes into getting ready for an ‘hour of power’ in any arena, there is also creating that ‘ideal performance mental state’ to get yourself spot on for the moment that matters, it all adds up to your ultimate performance.
These are the things I did in winning the 1991 Australian Time-Trial Championship, sometimes considered ‘quirky on the day’ behaviors, but they were my strategies to go faster and create the ‘advantage mindset’ in a real life example:-
- Shaving my legs (prepare your body to feel good)
- Motivational music before the start (switch on the energized parts of the mind)
- Wearing a skin-suit (efficient dress code for the task, all-over sensation of being free to move)
- Riding the painted lines (taking the fastest road surface)
- Re-tightening my shoes on the start-line (removing any all inefficiencies from the set-up)
- Positive affirmations on winning the day (because, if you think you can’t, you’re right)
Lifting yourself up into the realm of winners is a state of mind as much as it is having the tools on hand and doing all of the preparation training. I have found the same thing can work for lifting yourself in general life situations, even out of depressed moods, using exercise, quality foods, better earlier sleep cycles – and to exemplify the advantage mindset – not hanging around negative people, wearing clothes you like and look good in, smelling good, and smiling.
Using the advantage mindset might just change your outlook on any given day. Especially if you think you’re stuck, or limited by your situation, it might be worth the small effort of seeking out and adding an advantage mindset enhancement – you might just create a better outcome than you thought possible.
Mental State – Ideal Performance State
Mindset – ‘Advantage’
Mind Zones – Get an inch – take a mile, Lemons into lemonade, Milk it for everything you can, Make the most of what you’ve got, Glass half full, Seek out an edge, Early bird gets the worm
Mental Strength Attributes – Resourcefulness, Extra positive outlook, Nothing to lose.
Rob Crowe O.A.M. is a writer, speaker, director of specially designed group activities for physical fitness gains through cycling, while also improving mental fitness.
Post script added tip:
Note that the ‘center painted line’ dividing the traffic lanes on the hairpin corners of most road climbs is also usually the best ‘flow-line’ to take and gives the most even ride and the friendliest gradient of the corner,just in case you’re ever trying to save some energy, you should try this out if oncoming traffic isn’t an issue.