Two visualisation techniques to get more out of yourself, train your mind and prepare for new situations. Picking your number and practising an event before you actually race. They both work under the idea that visualising new situations will increase your confidence and give you more control of your training, racing and life in general.
I’ve split them into 2 categories.
1. Outside of races
a. Start by picking a type of number
What number – FTP, 5km TT or your favourite mountain bike loop.
The idea is to find your starting point. Then you can pick a number to aim for.
b. Pick a number to aim for
Pick your number based on the top performers of the category you want to do well in.
For example: Look at Hunter and Coggan’s Power Profile list to guide you. Remember to make it a stretch target. The same can be done for a set distance TT, or even knowing the local hero’s lap times on a particular MTB course.
Setting a performance target through this number gives you something tangible to focus on and move towards.
Make one thing sure, that your number is a stretch for you.
Now that you have this number. Get to know the number. Talk about it, think about it every single day.
I’ll tell you why. What’s in your mind is what you’re focussed on.
It will start to manifest in many different ways. It’s not some airy fairy advice from ‘The Secret’ where you are putting it out into the universe and hoping that some unexpected miracle makes you ride faster all of a sudden.
When you have that number lodged in your head you carry yourself differently.
If you have X target in your head you can’t act like a guy that rides like You. You gotta act like a rider that’s capable of X. It’s not about being arrogant, it’s about confidence and your entire approach to your cycling, training, racing, interacting with coaches and officials. Knowing you can compete, knowing you can do what it takes to win the race, what type of moves you can make, riding at the front, going for the sprint, getting the holeshot.
Also, you have to start thinking like, ‘this type of training isn’t going to get me there.’ Or this amount of time spent on the bike isn’t going to get me there, or this kind of diet etc.
It will help you get focussed on optimising your time off the bike because there is no way that you can make those numbers without it. You start to analyze your relationships, your equipment, even your work.
Practical ways to reach your number
If it’s not clear how you’ll get to your number, you have to act on it.
Get a coach to sit down with you and map out what it looks like to go from where you are, to where you want to be.
Choose a timeframe and visualise monthly targets on the way to that number. Get to know this monthly number as well.
A hack for this is to always make yourself feel like you’re behind. I’m not sure if this is good for your overall health, but never sit back and think that was a good training month. If you don’t hit the number, mark as read in your training diary so you know that you have to make it up the next month. Visualise the scenarios, like what you need to do in training and where you can make up ground.
2. Pick an event
You can start with one you are familiar with. A local club race-the ultimate goal is to build up and do this at your A races, but starting in familiar territory will help you to capture the atmosphere and small details.
The idea here is more about capturing and preparing for the sensations associated with an event. It’s all about what’s in your head.
After you have picked an event you need to quiet your conscious mind by just breathing and relaxing. If you’re relaxed the experience will be stronger.
The process involves tuning in your senses. Being aware of your 5 senses will help paint the picture in 5D.