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Cycling Psychology: Training Attitude

3 min read

Cycling Psychology: Training Attitude

Reaching Deeper

Johnathan Vaughters once said that professional cyclists are the "99.9th percentile of work ethic" in their sport. (Quoted from the film Blood, Sweat, and Gears for all you looking for a great film to pass some hours on the trainer).  He brings a valid point that is essential for progressing through the USA Cycling pipeline.  Getting the the 99.9th percentile is a discipline; a well balanced tango between real life responsibilities and living in a dream.
I once was chastened by a friend on the local racing scene.  I had been complaining, or justifying, why I was unable to win in any given race.  He turned to me, and in his calm, yet assertive demeanor, said: "If you want to amount to anything, you have to pay your dues!  If you want to be a champion. you have to put in the time, miles, and effort!"
I have come to realize that you need to train your attitude to have the right mentality toward training.  Often, I hear entry level, blue collar workers talk about reaching into a deeper level at work, to obtain a focus and drive that is unstoppable.  Employers call this professionalism.  In order to "go pro", you have to act "pro."

Try Not. Do.

My parents bought me a poster entitled "The Wisdom of Yoda" when visiting a Smithsonian display of Star Wars props and costumes.  They bought it for the phrase "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."  They wanted me to remember this as a standard for work ethic through my teenage years.
If you place your hands on your lap and "try" to lift them, you will never actually lift them.  You will only think about lifting your hands without making it a reality.  The only way to lift them is to actually, factually "do."  So you can lift them by doing, or you can "do not", or "try", and fail to lift you hands.  The same idea applies to the principles of training.
All principles of training require that you must "do."   My point may be best enlightened by the SAID principle.  The SAID principle stands for Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands.  Essentially, you must put in your dues to obtain a desired result through overload.  In order to sprint, and win, you must be able to generate more power than the guy next to you in the race.  To train for that, your winter training will be filled with a proper lifting program, accompanied with solid endurance and strengthening phases on the bike.  If you cannot reach the ideal level of strength and power in training, it is scientifically and mathematically imminent that you will fail.  If you "do""put in your dues," you have ensured yourself the W long before the event date.

Obtaining an Attitude of Professionalism

A basic principle of goal setting is called the "S.M.A.R.T. approach."  This means that you set Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, Time-based goals. Have a coach assist you in setting such goals for your physical and mental training.  Having SMART goals will allow you to schedule and periodize specific training.  Reaching these objectives will help you to establish professional habits.
Remember that "professional" means that someone does a specific task for a living.  Professional cyclists rely on their results to generate income to pay bills and mortgages.  They must put in the time to generate favorable results.  While some of us are unable to take the opportunity to work full-time as a cyclist, making time to train is critical in taking baby-steps toward professionalism.  Being able to work harder, longer than others will unlock the opportunity to progression.
Also remember, someone out there is working harder than you for the same job slot.  You may have heard that in a job interview workshop.  But the idea is the same for going pro.  There will be a slot open on a team for which you are qualified.  However,  professional cycling is a very competitive market.  Someone else will be better fit for the job, with more wins to his name, unless you can shut him down by putting in the time and effort necessary to stand out above the crowd!

Go out and do!  Pay your dues to obtain the prize!

Tyler Matson

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