Persistence In Training Equals Persistence In Racing

Posted on 01 May 2014

We have all faced those memorable workouts when you push through specific barriers and persisted to finish no matter how tough the circumstances. Mental toughness training sessions are the key to performing well on race day. It might be a targeted workout specifically with new threshold barriers that you incorporate into your workouts – intervals, over distance, etc.

A personal experience of learning to have relentless persistence during a training session happened to me about 20 years ago. I remember it vividly today and reflect on it often when challenged with a significantly tough part in a race.

It all began on my first 200-mile training ride. A hot humid morning in Western Pa., my close riding partner and I headed out for a 200-mile direct route to Ohio. As with anything new, there was a bit of nervous energy not knowing how difficult this ride would be over the next 12-13 hours.

My first mental challenge started right at the beginning at mile 6 when I took the angle over a set of railroad tracks a bit too aggressively and the tire slid out and I had a sideways crash. Just a bit of road rash and quick adjustment to my brakes and we were off again.

Over the many hours riding together (drafting) throughout the hilly ride, the miles ticked by until the first major thunderstorm. Of course not the smartest thing, but we persisted on through heavy rain, flooded roads, lightning, wind, thunder and black skies that slowed our pace significantly. Mentally we continued to pursue the goal to get to the next convenience market to load up with Gatorade and a few nibbles of food.

The next major mental barrier occurred at the 182-mile point and one I will never forget. I use this image many times when faced with very difficult times in a race.  Consider building an image in your subconscious that you can reflect on when experiencing a tough stage in your racing. As I was drafting my friend’s wheel into a tough headwind I got a bit to close to his wheel and tapped it accidently as he was having difficulty pulling at that point of the ride. Of course you know who crashes, when wheels touch – always the person from behind!

I launched over the handlebars and landed directly onto a decomposing dead deer!   You can only imagine the shock to the body and mind so close from the finish of this ride.  All the old cuts from the earlier crash opened along with some fresh new road rash with the ripe smell of a dead deer. The bike overall was ok, but damaged one brake lever so a quick repair again and we were off to the finish.

These two experiences of not only crashing, but also regrouping my mind mentally and persisting toward the ultimate goal have been instrumental in my racing. I reflect on this many times and recommend you consider creating a mental image of the times you pushed through significant barriers during a workout.

Focus on being persistent.  The best example of persistence that I have witnessed was seeing Angelo on the cover of Stronger Than Iron. Does his face look like he is going to give up despite all the obstacles – No Way!  Persistent to the finish after 30 Ironman’s in 30 Days was Angelo’s motto.

Stronger than Iron book

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