Can your Brain help you to Ride Faster? Well, it can definitely make you go slower!
Have you ever been in a situation where you were the fastest in practice and then when the pressure’s on, your bike seems to suddenly slow down? Or, do you get inconsistent race results that have nothing to do with the equipment on your bike? Excluding mechanical issues, these situations of inconsistent performance are generally the result of your brain getting in the way of your body doing what it has been training to do.
The best way to guarantee that your brain slows you down is to do the following. Firstly, think too much. About lots of things. All the time. Overthinking causes the brain to panic and feel overwhelmed, leading to a stress response and fight or flight behaviours, all of which result in pulling out of races or inefficient riding. Too much thinking can also lead to mental fatigue because it’s as if you’ve ridden the race over and over again before you even reach the start line.
Imagine the effect on your physical muscles if you ride the race over and over again the morning before you actually have to compete. You would be exhausted before the race starts! Riding the race over and over in your head in a stressed state or overthinking what you have to do can have the same effect on your brain.
Visualisation is still a valuable process if it occurs in a calm state, however, you need to learn what works best for you and how much thinking is too much for you specifically prior to a race by learning your ‘A’ game (discussed in this previous article).
Not only can thinking too much slow you down, but thinking about the wrong things will have a similar effect. Unhelpful things to think about include uncontrollable factors such as other competitors, results, past mistakes or injuries, and what other people think. These thoughts take up space in our limited attention span and take our minds off the only two things we need to pay attention to in order to perform well; the present and the process, or action, we need to take in that moment.
Fear of feelings can also slow you down. Panic because you feel nervous, or flat, or slow, will add to the problem and increase your worry, leading to overthinking and thinking about the wrong things. Your body can do things even if you don’t think or feel like you can. Bungee jumping is the perfect example. Our minds will, quite rightly, tell us that it is not a good idea to jump off a perfectly safe, high platform with a rope attached to us just for fun. This means our brain is working! However, we can still physically jump despite our thoughts and feelings telling us the opposite. In the same way, even when we don’t feel the best, we can still stick to what we know will give us the best results by focusing on the present and the process.
So your brain can definitely slow you down! This means that it can also make you go faster by removing the barriers to letting your body and your bike do what you’ve been training to do.
For more information about how to use your brain to ride faster, contact Mental Notes Consulting firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.mentalnotesconsulting.com.au.