Race Psychology Thread

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Big Pete 1
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Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Tue May 30, 2017 10:05 am

Some say racing success takes up to 70% mind (psychology), 25% physical ability, and 5% luck. There are variations to the stats.
The point is, most sport psychologists agree that more than 50% can be attributed to the rider's mentality.
So it can be seen that a LARGE part of our training should include mental training also.

I am hoping this thread will help others to perform more efficiently when training and racing.

Please feel free to add any revelational experiences, or learnt knowledge, of how mentality contributed (positively / negatively) to your performance.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Derny Driver » Tue May 30, 2017 10:30 am

“If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don't,
If you like to win, but you think you can't
It is almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”

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Duck!
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Duck! » Tue May 30, 2017 1:26 pm

Psychology is equally valid for getting through non-competitive personal challenge rides too.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Tue May 30, 2017 3:20 pm

Thank you Derny Driver for those insightful words.

Duck! wrote:Psychology is equally valid for getting through non-competitive personal challenge rides too.

Thank you Duck. I agree.
Just to explain why I called the thread racing psychology is that the subforum is road racing, and I am a racer.
As you mentioned, much of sport psychology can be used for non-competitive personal challenge rides, like endurance.
It can also be used in everyday life, including entrepreneurship.
So please feel free to add any psychology input that would help others become a more efficient rider.

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Tue May 30, 2017 3:45 pm

Derny Driver's earlier post reminded me of what Geoffrey Garden (2nd in the first Grafton-Inverell race) once said to me. "Do you know why I always came third or fourth when competing against Cliff Burvill (Olympian cyclist, 1956) and John O'Sullivan (I think)"? "No mate" I said. "It's because I always thought Cliff and John? would beat me at the sprint."
Yet Cliff once told me that "Geoff had such a punch that nobody could stay on his wheel when he took of".

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Nikolai
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Nikolai » Tue May 30, 2017 6:39 pm

Big Pete 1 wrote:Some say racing success takes up to 70% mind (psychology)


And they measured this how?

I tell riders I coach psychology is part of the game, and an important part too, but 70%? You can deal with pain and you can have a winner's mindset but you won't go far on your grit when your engine is kaput.

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Tue May 30, 2017 7:25 pm

Nikolai wrote:
Big Pete 1 wrote:Some say racing success takes up to 70% mind (psychology)


And they measured this how?

I tell riders I coach psychology is part of the game, and an important part too, but 70%? You can deal with pain and you can have a winner's mindset but you won't go far on your grit when your engine is kaput.

I don't know exactly how they measured it. Many sport psychologists write books after they have spent many years in the profession. Some have administered questionnaires and diary forms for athletes to fill out on a daily basis. Mental attitude versus sports results could be correlated from such data.

Sure, when the engine is kaput its kaput. But what about how and why it got kaput. A cyclist who hates headwinds might work out his hate by mashing the gears for mile after mile, instead of choosing an easier gear to spin; pushing down on the pedal more than smooth action or at least focusing on pulling up instead; and forgetting to stay in the drops. All this wasted energy due to non-acceptance of a headwind can easily and quickly make the engine kaput LONG before halfway through the race (there is an example of a >50% kaput rate).

A winner's mindset and dealing with pain has little to do with the above scenario. It has more to do with overcoming fears, staying aware of one's engine performance, changing with the environment, conserving energy, and focusing on the current procedures of one efficient pedal stroke at a time. The goal is to get to the finish line without a kaput engine, even if it means not winning as one hoped. Then again, I have seen the field whittle down to one rider finishing a club race, and not what one would call a good time, where all others had kaput engines. He won by being more efficient than anyone else.

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Abby » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:09 am

One of the biggest imporvements to my crit racing came solely due to a psychological shift.

I always struggled at about the 3/4 mark, and either fell off the back or chewed my handlebars as the tailgunner hoping that I'd hold on and praying the pace didn't lift. I wondered if I'd ever be as good as all the others in the pack.

Then one of the wise old member sin the club told me - "Mate, if you are suffering - then I guarantee you at least 75% of the others in the race are suffering too. They may not be showing it, but they are feeling it. You're not the only one..."

For me, it made a massive difference. WHen I hit the race phases when the pace was up and I was red-lining, I knew that there were heaps around me who were probably also red-lining. Made it much easier to 'hold on' because I knew that others were struggling too and the pace would ease.

I rarely ever got dropped after that in a crit. Amazing the difference a psychological shift can make... :-)

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 3:44 pm

Good one Abby.

HANGING IN the race. My main approach when the going gets tough, because the tough are going, is focus on my procedures and conserving energy.

If I start doubting about hanging in, or too stuffed to win the sprint, I will inevitably wear myself out. Worrying about it takes my focus away from pedaling efficiently, staying in the drops, and in the 'sweet-spot' of minimal resistance.

If I am in a breakaway of only 2-3 riders then recovery time between turns get taxed as the speed increases. At my age (63), I need 25-30 seconds. So to recover my breath, as I tuck into the back, is to take big 'sighs' and think how wonderful the relief is. Sometimes I even voice it aloud repeatedly saying "Ahhh!" (sigh of relief). I am always surprised how quickly the recover is; and by the time it is my turn to lead again I feel refreshed more than not.

Naturally there are other tactics which are not psychological, such as shortening the lead time.

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foo on patrol
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:25 pm

Get used to pushing the pain to the back of ya mind and you will be surprised at how much you have left in the tank! :idea:

Look at others facial expressions to get a feel for how they are feeling. Pain is good is pain. :lol:

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I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
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Big Pete 1
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:38 pm

foo on patrol wrote:Get used to pushing the pain to the back of ya mind and you will be surprised at how much you have left in the tank!...

Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
That is, suffering comes from the negative story we have created about the pain, such as: "I can't stand this much longer!"
Without a story attached to the pain, pain simply becomes a curious sensation.

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby RobertL » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:43 pm

Well, I've bought a 3-day racing licence and told people that I will be competing in my first ever race this Saturday. The lofty heights of a men's D grade criterium. :)

I don't know that any of this psychology will help me much. I really have no idea of what pace to expect, or of what I can handle over a 30 minute race. I will just do my best to hang on and look like I know what I'm doing!

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby g-boaf » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:57 pm

foo on patrol wrote:Get used to pushing the pain to the back of ya mind and you will be surprised at how much you have left in the tank! :idea:

Look at others facial expressions to get a feel for how they are feeling. Pain is good is pain. :lol:

Foo


Except some people can suffer without showing it too much.

RobertL wrote:I don't know that any of this psychology will help me much.
There will probably be a lot more shouting in some of the lower grades than in the higher levels where those guys are very smooth riders. If you watch an elite race, you'll see it.

All you can do is get in there and get a feel for how things work. And nobody is racing for huge winnings, so forget about low percentage risky stuff. You'll probably ride a lot faster than you've done before. And remember things like pedal strikes... It happens, even to very experience crit-racers. Experienced racers might say otherwise, but the photographers positioned at races can certainly provide evidence to the contrary.

I've seen some events where a very experienced rider (or riders) will go out with the newcomers and show them the way. There are so many things you can learn from them.

Good luck. :) I don't really get into this whole psychology stuff to be honest, but for sure people do that. If they sense you've got a weakness, they'll exploit it for sure.

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:21 pm

g-boaf wrote:
Good luck. :) I don't really get into this whole psychology stuff to be honest, but for sure people do that. If they sense you've got a weakness, they'll exploit it for sure.

In my experience, if you are psychologically weak it is very difficult to fix. You can put a few bandaids on it but the confident person will always have the edge.
One saying I like is "To win without risk is to triumph without honour" which lines up with something my dad told me once which was "There is no such thing as an easy victory". In other words, you have to do something. You have to try something. You have to take a risk.
I always tried to be aggressive when I raced, no matter who I was up against. If the field was a strong one, I didnt feel threatened, I just imagined how good it would be to beat them. "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph" (Thomas Paine).

The OP asked for anecdotes and I have a plenty lol
It was an A grade NSW Southern Division Road Championship over 90km and the wife and kids came with me to Goulburn where it was pretty cold, windy and miserable as it always is there - but I was keen for it. I signed on, got a program and went back to the car to get ready. I pointed out to my wife who the other guys on the program were, a State Sprint champion, an ex-professional cyclist, a guy who had won several big State Opens etc etc. The wife (now ex wife) told me in no uncertain terms that I was "out of my depth" (her exact words) and that I had wasted our family's time by entering. I was a bit hurt by what she said but it didnt dent my confidence, I was planning on winning and as I warmed up I became even more determined to win and prove her wrong. Anyway, long story short, the big favourite managed to get away and rode solo to win it, but I was super focused and covered every move made by all the other guys and at the finish I was still strong and unleashed a sprint fueled by anger and a few other emotions as well to take silver - which I was happy with given the company. The drive home was a bit quiet, I was half happy with the 2nd place, and half disappointed that I let the favourite get away. The wife was quiet too.

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby RobertFrith » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:48 am

The race got you silver, the story is Gold
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:03 am

Derny Driver wrote:...something my dad told me once which was "There is no such thing as an easy victory". In other words, you have to do something. You have to try something. You have to take a risk.
I always tried to be aggressive when I raced, no matter who I was up against. If the field was a strong one, I didnt feel threatened, I just imagined how good it would be to beat them. "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph" (Thomas Paine).

... I was half happy with the 2nd place, and half disappointed that I let the favourite get away...

Great story of determination.

Here is a quote from a book (Uphill Battle: cycling's great climbers. p.26) I am currently reading. "All champions need opposition in order to display their talents".

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Duck! » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:52 pm

I know we're in the roadie section, and what follows is an experience from a MTB event, but it's relevant so here goes anyway. :-)

I did a 6-hour race on the weekend, happy to ride in my own groove & just let it unfold; having done a 10-hour race 6 weeks prior I knew I'd had sufficient recovery time from that and still had fitness in spades to cope with 6 hours on a fast course.

Somewhere during the second hour I caught a rider who'd opened a bit of ground early on, then dropped back a bit. I passed him, but couldn't quite get away; I'd get a slight break on some bits of trail, he'd pull back on others, but neither of us had a clear edge, so we rode wheel to wheel for close to half of the race. Naturally, when you're in that close company for so long, a bit of conversation flowed, and that turned to some of the riding & racing we'd done recently. I mentioned I'd done the 10 recently, so while I may not be super fast, the endurance was there, so I'd happily hold a tempo all day. His last race was a 100km marathon early in the year, and he suggested that because of the gap between races he'd probably pop around the 4 - 4.5-hour mark.....

Well guess what... A bit after the 4-hours it happened. I gave him a break when I had a bit of a fumble while grabbing an energy bar & dropped it, so hit the skids to pick it up. He got in front, but not by a lot, and I figured I'd bide my time because there was still a while to go, and that little psychological gem was in my hand. But only a few hundred metres further along he stopped for a nature break, allowing me to get back in front. That kind of interruption to the rhythm always hurts, but when it occurs during a time frame where you've already basically said you're going to be fried, well that's the day over. I caught a few brief glimpses of his position over the next few minutes, but over the remaining 1.5 hour of racing he lost 8 minutes on me. Weirdly, my last three laps actually got progressively faster after I got him off my tail!
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:21 am

Great story Duck.
I can relate to it very much, in terms of self-fulfilled prophesy.
I just got an inspiration. I am going to try using a mantra when nearing a perceived limit. Such as "It ain't necessarily so".

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Rex » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:46 pm

I race in a team and I find if I just stick to my role whether it's lead-out, protected rider or work-house - that because others are relying on me I'll actually race smarter and be able to push through those barriers that I wouldn't otherwise be able to do if I was racing for myself all the time.

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Re: Race Psychology Thread

Postby Big Pete 1 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:22 pm

Rex wrote:I race in a team and I find if I just stick to my role whether it's lead-out, protected rider or work-house - that because others are relying on me I'll actually race smarter and be able to push through those barriers that I wouldn't otherwise be able to do if I was racing for myself all the time.

I can relate to that, especially pushing through your own barriers for the team.

The first time I was in a team time trial (5 riders, 3 to finish). The pace was fast and two riders pulled out early. I ended up being the weakest rider left. Also, if I pulled out then the whole team forfeits. My strengths were downhill and flats. Unfortunately the course was hilly. On each hill I was last and struggled like made to not slow the team down, and as soon as we got to the top it was my turn to leadout. At the end of the race I needed help to get off the bike, and then I threw-up. It took a while to recover from that. By the way, we won the TT.

Thanks for the reminder. Isn't it strange that our fondest memories can be those where we put ourselves on the brink of collapse to emerge transformed. Stepping into a new realm of self.

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