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One of the body’s reactions to fear and anxiety is muscle tension. This can result in feeling “tense”, or can lead to muscle aches and pains, as well as feelings of panic, self-doubt and an array of other emotions which are non-conducive to cycling performance.
Think about how you respond to anxiety, stress or nerves…
Do you “tense up” when you’re feeling anxious or nervous?
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can be particularly helpful in cases where anxiety is especially associated to muscle tension.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was first identified by Jacobson in 1934 as tensing and releasing of 16 muscle groups. Wolpe adapted it for use with systematic desensitization in 1948 and Bernstein and Borkovec in 1973 studied adjustments to the technique to fit cognitive behavioural stress management.
Empirical evidence supports the use of PMR in high level tension responses and mind body techniques such as: reducing...
Focusing on quality over quantity is not a new concept but it is a rather good one, particularly when we hone in on training and racing agendas encompassed within the parameters of your life and work agendas.
Here’s a quick maths addition to start you thinking:
Total hours in the day: 24
Hours Sleep: 8-10
Time to shower, prepare for day: 1
Transportation to work and home: 1-2
Work Hours: 8
Meal times: 3
Time to sit/relax/catch up with family/kids sport etc.: 1-2
Leftover hours to train within 24 hours window: 0-2 hours, possibly more if you choose to condense on the above life tasks…
What we essentially want to imply here is that the time you have leftover to train during the week (i.e. 0-2 hours per day), should be spent very wisely and this is where the concept of quality over quantity comes in.
If you don’t have a lot of time you really need to focus on the specific areas of training that will give you the...
A little while ago we walked a young talented rider to the start line of a big event and this particular athlete (exceptional and by far the quickest and most tactful rider to contest the event) was in the best form of his life.
Quite young and new to the sport, the rider hadn’t yet experienced what it was like to be ‘challenged’ off the track in the warm-up area by other riders.
Whilst warming up, ‘exceptional-talent’, (let’s call him Jim) was approached by his competitor who mumbled a few words in his ear and tried to strike up a conversation.
Jim’s competitor then proceeded to remain in the warm up area, and encroach upon Jim’s space in the lead up to his event before he was due to race this rider…
Little did Jim know, the tactics of the impending match-sprint had already started, and when it came time to line up for the actual event, the race didn’t start on even terms...
Jim’s opponent had...
If you’re familiar with the start line then it’s likely you’ll be all too familiar with the emotional highs and lows of competing and the mental energy it takes to wind down following a result (good, bad or indifferent).
Without a well-rehearsed mental strategy (or set of strategies) regardless of the outcome of your race, you’re likely to have, what we like to call… poor mental recovery time.
Let us explain…
You arrive at the track, warm up, prepare they way you do, race, win and celebrate. It’s cheers and high fives all round as you go home with your shiny new medal. You get home, unwind and put your feet up, the elation is still at an all time high - your adrenaline levels are still through the roof - it’s a good feeling. Bed time rolls around, you hop into bed and attempt to sleep. You can’t sleep - you can only replay the triumph of your event over and over again. As you try...
Do you wear headphones and listen to music whilst you're warming up and warming down?
Many elite level athletes will listen to music in some capacity to help them mentally prepare to perform, so it’s no surprise that headphones and music are highly rated amongst top track cyclists.
So how does music actually help?
Science has proven that music can enhance performance in sport in the following 4 ways:
1. Dissociation through music diverts the mind.
2. Music promotes flow states for internal motivation.
3. Synchronised music movements can shift your level of activity.
4. Music evokes emotions that enrich your enjoyment.
Trialling different music genres to achieve your optimum 'arousal level' (see diagram below) will help you with your preparation and event performance.
Do you listen to music whilst warming up, perhaps on the bus on the way to a racing event, or to unwind post-event?
Drop us a comment in the box below and let us know what you're listening...
Happy New Year!
On behalf of our team, we hope you've had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break!
How have you gone with your New Years 'resolutions' so far?
Or perhaps you don't have any resolutions, and instead are continuing on the path of your longer term goals?
Either way, we thought we'd start the New Years by offering a bit of motivation to ensure you start the New Year on the right track.
We've taken a leaf from Michelle Segar a Motivational Scientist and Faculty Director of Sport in the United States who has helped us achieve our goals over the years so we thought we'd share her 4 fold approach...
So here it is in our own words....
Make sure you think about what has worked for you in the past when it comes to goals you have achieved, but also consider why you're choosing the goals that are ahead of you.
Before you enter the next stage, you need to be sure that you're moving towards a certain direction for the right reasons.
Some of the athletes we work with are exceptional performers in training environments but when it comes to race day, unhelpful mental habits take over, and their performances suffer.
Does this sound like you?
Do your nerves get in the way of your legs powering to personal bests? or
Have you got the ‘angel on one shoulder, and devil on the other’ syndrome where one positive thought is counteracted by a negative thought which ultimately leaves you doubting your abilities?
We want to offer you our top 3 mental strategies to help overcome barriers to achieving your best!
One of the biggest mistakes that athletes make as they enter race events is putting too much focus on the outcome and forgetting the process.
When we become too outcome focused, we forget all the crucial steps that make up the process to achieve the desired outcome.
Example of this might include getting on the start line for the time trial being so hell-bent on achieving your PB time...
Getting yourself mentally prepared to perform on race day isn’t an easy task.
Nerves are an imperative part of the process and just like the rest of the physiological preparation plan, requires training like your muscles.
World Champion Shane Perkins talks exclusively about his experience with nerves, and how he utilised them to get the most out of himself to win some of the biggest races at International events.
Here are 3 Extra Tips to Prepare Yourself Mentally:
Have you found ways to...
The generic alarm tone that you promise yourself you’ll change, rattles from your mobile phone before you reach over and press any button but ‘snooze’
Fast-forward 6 months. A similar noise, but one awash with adrenaline, as the bell resonates for the last lap of the race.
Two significant moments of misery. Or elation. I guess it depends on where you are in the race.
Rolling back the months, you’re internally debating what best to eat to lose the off-season ‘podge’ before reading at least 6 weather forecast apps to find an excuse to not go out. To me, the bite of winter makes the summer even sweeter but sometimes the soul dies when I pull on the thick overshoes.
Soon enough, you’re out of the door post porridge and espresso and into the morning season. You take in the club run’s own annual calendar or if like me, you meet with a smaller group of fellow fools that like to turn the screw that little bit...
If you missed Part 1 of this blog, we’d recommend you go back and have a read by clicking here before continuing on to Part 2 below.
In Part 1 we talked about 3 different types of race mistakes which occur in race events (namely bunch events) and how to avoid them.
Below, we're going to cover three more common factors which influence results and give you a few more strategies to get the most out of your riding.
The first one is a big one...
“Getting too nervous before your big event can affect performance!”
Pre-race nerves are a GREAT thing, but too may of them (or not enough of them) can affect your performance.
This is why it’s really important to find an optimal arousal level before your big race or event, which will enable you, perform at your very best.
We've included a diagram below which demonstrates the relationship between nerves and performance.
If you find you get too nervous, or the...