Train the Brain: The Power of Mental Suffering

When we catch ourselves visualizing or fantasying about racing, winning or accomplishing something big in our race dreams, rarely do we visualize ourselves falling apart.  On the contrary, we view the victory as coming rather easily.  Even if the scene involves us digging to the depths of our inner being to pull something out of nothing, that agonizing pull from our inner selves is viewed in fantasy world as masterfully manifested.

In real life, we all know it doesn’t actually work like that.  Many of us can suffer but there are breaking points and limitations to the line we cross. And while we aspire to be our better selves and pull out the magic in a moment of victory, the magic won’t be there if we don’t train it to be there.  Sure, we know how to train the body for suffering on the bike.  But the real master to train is the brain.

How are you training your brain?  Daily workouts offer opportunities to dig deeper.  Extended minutes at threshold heart rate or within specific power zones offer challenges.  Conquering a hill climb or masterfully navigating technical sections on the mountain bike  build confidence.  While these rides garner motivation to go beyond our limits, bigger challenges garner insights to training your brain for mental suffering.  Take these early season races and rides as an example.

Compare your mental attitude, preparation, and willingness to “get after it” when considering a race like the Triple Bypass  or the Copper Triangle versus a training ride with a group of spirited athletes.  The level of digging deep and mental suffering for a race exceeds that of a fast paced training ride.

Bigger challenges help to prepare for the mental suffering athletes are bound to encounter during the season.  They also help build mental fitness and confidence.  On the other hand, it is true, some athletes and recreational enthusiast focus on the bike itself.  As in, “Is it light enough?”   “Does it have the latest and greatest bike parts?”  Granted, having the right bike components and bike accessories makes a difference but to perform your best, you have to train your brain.

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One Response to Train the Brain: The Power of Mental Suffering

  1. […] the power of visualization to motivate yourself and accomplish you 2014 season goals. The post, The Power of Mental Suffering offers key insights as to how thought creates a powerful […]

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