‘Talk your­self into go­ing faster’

Cycling Weekly - - Fitness -

Pro­fes­sor Sa­muele Mar­cora is di­rec­tor of re­search at the School of Sports and Ex­er­cise Sciences at the Univer­sity of Kent. He is a lead­ing ex­pert on psy­chobi­ol­ogy in en­durance

CW: You sug­gest that per­cep­tion of ef­fort can put a false ceil­ing on per­for­mance. What are the prac­ti­cal im­pli­ca­tions of this? Sa­muele Mar­cora: If your phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion has been right and you have reached your max­i­mum phys­i­o­log­i­cal po­ten­tial, you have another av­enue for im­prove­ment: work­ing on the psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pects. CW: ‘Pos­i­tive self-talk’ is one ex­am­ple of a men­tal strat­egy. What ex­actly is it? SM: It ba­si­cally in­volves talk­ing to your­self, ei­ther out loud or in your head. It is im­por­tant to in­di­vid­u­alise the state­ments, us­ing ones that work for you and which can be prac­tised. They should be pos­i­tive, not crit­i­cal; "I can keep go­ing" rather than, "I am near my limit." CW: Can you give a prac­ti­cal ex­am­ple of this? SM: If you are go­ing into the last quar­ter of a time trial, pos­i­tive mo­ti­va­tional talk might be: "This is what all the train­ing was for. Don’t waste all that ef­fort now — keep push­ing." CW: How of­ten should rid­ers prac­tise tech­niques like this? SM: Reg­u­larly. The best way to re­duce ef­fort is to train hard. By reg­u­larly in­duc­ing an acute men­tal stress, you will adapt to this stress and be­come more re­sis­tant to psy­cho­log­i­cal fa­tigue. I also sug­gest that rid­ers some­times sched­ule hard ses­sions for times when they are go­ing to be men­tally fa­tigued, such as at the end of a dif­fi­cult day at work.

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