Sunday, April 8, 2007

The mind of an endurance rider

Hmmmm Do we actually have a mind? Sometimes I wonder. Endurace racing is as much mental as it is physical. Its also about luck. We will get to that after. The biggest thing with endurance racing is outlook on it. These races are more about what you can put your body through than racing against others. Its more important to beatyour own expectations than beating a competitor. The later comes in time.

Training is like anything else the core to it all. You can't expect to finish an 8 hour race if your longest ride up to the race was an hour. Same with a 24 hour race. You will never know how your body will respond to that type of torture until the race. Unfortunatly most of us have real world jobs which does seem to limit the maximum time per day allowed to train. I've also learned the hard way about overtraining. My lower back and foot numbing problems were caused by to much training not enough recovery. When you train, train hard BUT make sure you have atleast one day for recovery. I found that taking monday and friday off helped me both mentally and physically. The weekend is your time to get those big rides in. By taking friday off your legs also get a day of rest before those 5-7 hour rides. Yes if you want to do 24 hour races ya gotta do it. You are ramping up to that time but when its time to do that distance you have to do it. Sundays are usually a shorter ride of 2-4 hours at around the same intensity.

I know that mountain bikers love trails. Hey, so do I but if you want to get the miles in you definatly need a road bike. Especially for you 5,-7 hour rides. 5 hours on the road is like 8 hours plus on the mountain bike. Its much easier to get into tempo on the road bike. Mix up your sunday rides with one week road one week mountian. In peak times these are also not the times to take on major projects around the house. Hold off on the house additions till after the race.

With some of the basics on training this is where the hard part comes in. The mind is evil sometimes. Your mind will start to persuade you to quit at a race when your sore and tired. You have to learn to push through. You need to teach yourself to suffer an LOVE IT. Some tips for it. Ride when the weather is crappy. If its blowing and cold instead of thinking how shitty it is outside, think of it as a better resistance ride. Hell its almost like doing hill repeats without the hills. When its raining same thing. Ride. Do you think Lance Armstrong only road when it was perfect outside. The other big thing to remember. You never know what the weather will be on race day. Its not always 70 degrees and sunny with light winds. Wouldnt that be nice. If you dont learn how to deal with being cold in training it will make the race harder and your chances of dropping out increase. Something that Armstrong said in one of his books that has stuck with me. Are you riding or are you hiding. Something that I say to myself when I look at a rainy day, you may not be out riding but I bet your competition is.

Now with all of this to you don't want to make riding become a job. Thats worst than overtraining when mentally your not into it. You still want to have that craving and excitment everytime you see the bike. With that if you feel like crap on a training day, don't ride. Take a recovery day or go for that easy spin with your better half etc or better yet sit back and relax. One extra day off from training is not going to make a huge difference in your end results. As long as you dont make a habit of it. I've had days where it was crazy nuts at work and came in tired. Instead of a hard 2 hour ride i just cruised on one of the mountain bikes along the bike path for an hour. I felt amazing the next day both mentally and physically. Now try not to let this happen on your weekend rides. Those are your most important 2 rides.

Other big things to remeber for the mental part of the race. RIDE YOUR OWN RACE. you've trained and you knonw what pace to go at. Your body feels great and you want to go, it will be your mind that will keep things in check. I've seen to many racers lose it way to early because they lost their focus and paced off someone else. I've done it myself and the result hurts, alot. As the race progresses you will need things to keep your mind working. Another problem is you will go in to cruise control. You have ridden the course a dozen times already and your mind tells you how fast to take a corner. Well you body is tired and can't take the corner that fast or doesnt respond as fast. Guess what, you just crashed. Cruise control is bad and it happens to everyone. Ride every lap as a new lap. Especially the single track and downhill sections. These can change every lap.

Now I know some race orgianizer dont like it but when you get into the night laps when there are less racers on the course an mp3 player s your best friend. I've tried every style music to race with and have found something of a medium pace and songs you know the words to. Why do you need to know the words. So you can sing along!!! It keeps you awake. After 12-15 hours of racing who cares if you sing like crap. Your still riding. The night laps are great to because you will see faster riders coming behind you with their lights. Dont have it cranked but as I said singing is great. I've made many a racers start laughing when they hear me coming.

Thats it for now. Easter Dinner time. Everyone have a great one. Carb loading.

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