Too many minds

Is your mind helping or hurting?
The mind is a powerful advantage - but also the weakest link when it comes to endurance sports. Too many things to think about, outcomes to consider and possibilities to ponder. Instead of turning off the brain, the outcomes overwhelm and you begin to second guess the training, the preparation and the goals. Planning for a variety of outcomes is one thing, but allowing them to overwhelm is a completely different story. Not contemplating the potential pitfalls is one way to handle the influx of information, but not that may lead to less then satisfactory results. So what to do? Build on the knowledge and base you have gained through training to confidently be ready for whatever happens. It calls for being willing to head out in all conditions, knowing that clothing choices are appropriate. It also calls for understanding the course and the the history of the event so you have a baseline for the possible conditions you could face. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with outcomes, use them to train. Understand your equipment and your gear and know the options you have at hand. Show up to your race confident but not cocky. 

Another area where the mind can betray you is during rebuilding after a major race or an injury. Everyone has done this - signed up for a race and then gone and searched the names of competitors. What are their times, have they raced this event before? Do they like chunky technical trails or smooth roads? And then the mental games begin as we begin to compare ourselves and our historical performances with those other competitors. "My marathon time is 20 minutes faster, this should be easy - I've done four 100 mile races to her one". Thoughts like that roll around in your brain, priming you for only one outcome - easily besting the competition. On the flip side, if the times are one you cannot touch,  the negative talk that "I can't keep up or my skills aren't good enough" will color the race before the starting line. Either result - coming to the line anticipating an easy win or expecting to be roundly beaten will affect performance. If that slower runner has been training hard and is tapered for the race, it may not be the easy cruise to the line we built ourselves up to have. If that more skilled rider is struggling and falls off the pace early, we can quickly begin doubting the pace and whether it's a sustainable effort level.

Too many minds. Instead of focusing on what everyone else around you is doing, focus on yourself. Your training, the skill work and the intervals. The long rides and endurance runs that have brought you to the starting line. Turn off the mind, the expectations - both positive and negative - and let the race unfold. History is made in the present. 

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