I’ve got a number of different ideas/themes for this post rumbling around in my brain. But really, I don’t know if I can do them justice. I know strange isn’t it? Usually, I just sit down and the magic flows from my fingers (okay, magic might be a bit extravagant…). But today, I’m struggling. Ah well, lets just stick it through and see what happens.

Excellent week of training. It is nice to be in a solid block of training right now. When I’m racing and traveling so much, it is hard to get in the training. Don’t take this to mean that I’m not riding my bike. Rather the bike riding when racing every weekend and traveling on Fridays and Sundays, means that for me, I’m doing a lot of “recovery” rides. I’ll recover for most of the week – with a mix of different lengths of rides and then open up the day before the first race of the weekend. And then continue this cycle the following week. The riding is a mix of road and ‘cross riding. But definitely no room in there for intervals or long rides. So now with a bit of break from racing, I’m able to really “train”. Wow, didn’t realize how much I missed these sessions. So far this week I’ve done two tempo interval rides and one sprint work-out and then interspersed some recovery rides on both bikes. Very nice.

For me, I like to have the sensations of hard training fresh in my brain when I’m getting ready for a race. It is one thing to have a fellow racer set the pace and put the pain in your legs and lungs. And a completely other thing to do this to yourself. This is what I crave. If I can put myself in the pain cave when I’m out training, I know that during a race, I can do this to myself and can respond to the efforts of my competitors. When I’m out on my bike digging through intervals, I always tell myself “remember this sensation. You want to feel this on the weekend.”

Which brings me to one of my ideas/themes for this post: what goes through your brain while you’re riding? Do you pedal along with a free and clear mind, taking in the surroundings and feeling of the wind on your face? Do you completely focus on whatever is pumping through your headphones – maybe an audio book, music, podcasts, etc? Do you work while you ride – plan meetings, craft letters/emails, plan company reorganizations, etc? What about positive self-talk – does that enter your brain?

You got it – I’m in the positive self-talk camp. (Yes, I listen to my iPod – usually a mix of CBC Radio, NPR, and Studio Brussels podcasts.) For me, the time when I’m out riding is a chance for me to work on building my confidence. This happens through the previously mentioned interval sessions and through mental talk. Sometimes I’ll even verbally express my mantras – yes – talk to myself. So, what do I tell myself? Yeesh, this is going deep here – really not sure if I want to tell you the complete nitty gritty. Hmm, on second thought – why not? Writing these out is also a useful method for reinforcing positive self-talk and mental imagery. So here goes:

“I am powerful. I am fit.”
“I am healthy. I am strong.”
“I am racing at the World Championships.”
“I love starts. I am a fast starter.”
“I am explosive.”
“I am an elite athlete.”
“I can do this. I will do this.”
“I belong.”
“Stay wide. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal.”
“Focus. Explode.”
“This is my year.”

So there you have it. This is what I think about and tell myself while I’m out there on my bike. There is no set pattern to these mantras. I just let them roll through. There are some rides when none of these enter my brain. Maybe I’m focused on the iPod or I’m feeling like taking in my surroundings. Who knows – but sometimes they don’t hit the radar. I’m so practiced at using this positive self-talk that I find these mantras entering my brain when I’m out doing other stuff – like walking to my office, driving, falling asleep, brushing my teeth, etc. From what I’ve read, this is the way it should be.

So there you have it. A bit more insight into what makes me tick.

Racing tomorrow. First local race of the season. Smooth. Off to Kingston for the Eastern Ontario-Southern Ontario challenge. Looking forward to it. It will be nice to see a lot of my friends and hang out watching the early race. I have to do a cool-down/recovery ride after the race so if you want to come along – just tap me on the shoulder and let me know. One hour of riding and chatting. Then some food in Kingston. Sounds like a pretty darn good Sunday.

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