Sul­li­van Re­port

Know­ing Your­self

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - BY MONIQUE SUL­LI­VAN

Sport psy­chol­ogy is some­times seen as a sec­ondary el­e­ment in prepa­ra­tion for an event. Of course, it doesn't re­place your phys­i­cal train­ing, and it's true that many rid­ers find suc­cess with­out specif­i­cally tar­get­ing their men­tal state, how­ever most of us can re­ally ben­e­fit from a stronger em­pha­sis on our psy­chol­ogy.

For ex­am­ple, do you think be­ing an emo­tional ath­lete is a good or a bad thing? What about an ag­gres­sive ath­lete? How about a log­i­cal, ques­tion­ing or con­fi­dent ath­lete?

The thing is, none of th­ese qual­i­ties is in­her­ently good or bad. All of them can be good, and all of them can be bad, de­pend­ing on the con­text. It's up to you to dis­cover which qual­i­ties come nat­u­rally to you, so that you can har­ness them to your ad­van­tage, and not them hi­jack you.

For ex­am­ple, I am an emo­tional ath­lete. This can be an ad­van­tage be­cause I care a lot and can use those feel­ings to push my­self in train­ing. How­ever, be­ing emo­tional can some­times side­track me and dis­tract me from the task at hand. In or­der to man­age my emo­tions, we started us­ing tools such as jour­nal­ing, train­ing de­briefs and short-term goals.

Jour­nal­ing: Jour­nal­ing may sound silly, but it has very real ben­e­fits. When you jour­nal, you have to think about how you're feel­ing, and you have to come up with spe­cific words to de­scribe those emo­tions. This process forces you to use your brain more ob­jec­tively, which re­duces the power of the emo­tions.

De­briefs: Af­ter each race or train­ing ses­sion, do­ing a proper de­brief to an­a­lyze your per­for­mance ob­jec­tively can be a very pow­er­ful tool. It will re­sult in clear take­aways to fo­cus on for the next ses­sion. For ex­am­ple, if you did your de­brief and found that your tac­tics were off, then you know where to put ad­di­tional fo­cus mov­ing for­ward. Don't as­sume that im­por­tant lessons will jump off the page – it of­ten re­quires a thought­ful, thor­ough de­brief to re­ally see what fac­tors in­flu­enced your re­sult.

Short-term goals: For each work­out, I lay out spe­cific goals for that ses­sion. Th­ese are tan­gi­ble, re­al­is­tic goals that fit in the big­ger pic­ture such as “ride the black line” or “fo­cus on stay­ing smooth in the last half-lap.” I write th­ese out the night be­fore and they keep me right on tar­get for each ses­sion, re­gard­less of how I'm feel­ing on each day.

What about your qual­i­ties? How can you man­age your unique set of abil­i­ties bet­ter? If you're a log­i­cal ath­lete, does this mean you are awe­some at an­a­lyz­ing power num­bers, but un­able to read a race? Are you ques­tion­ing your train­ing too much, or are you trust­ing the process? Are you over­con­fi­dent and not learn­ing from those around you, or is your con­fi­dence helping you win races?

Each ath­lete will have an in­di­vid­ual re­sponse to th­ese ques­tions, but it's worth tak­ing the time to un­cover th­ese truths for your­self. They can serve as a great start­ing point for where to put your fo­cus as we head into the off-sea­son.

Sul­li­van says tar­get­ing your men­tal state is an ad­di­tional tool to your phys­i­cal train­ing.

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