Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mental Gymnastics

This is a post that has been rattling around my brain for a few weeks now. Between racing, training, working on bikes, working, and trying to keep things borderline acceptable on the home front, time has conspired against me. A lunchtime post will have to do. My posts tend to be cynical or humorous at times, so I’ll forewarn you that this one is meant to be more serious. Motivational even.

I was introduced to the concept I’m about to explain at work this year. For those that don’t know, I sell crack to kids, and we’re always looking for ways to improve sales by improving ourselves first.

In any event, the concept is this: There are three kinds of people in life, in this case three kinds of racers.

There are Winners. Winners may or may not be genetically gifted, but they have the psychology of a winner and they tend to perform well week in and week out. They know how to win, they win regularly and they expect to win. Regardless of who is on the start line, they know and BELIEVE they have a shot at winning.

There are Non-Winners. These are people that are there every week, but are always saying things like “it’ll be fun until I get dropped.” They have no expectations whatsoever. For the most part they don’t care who beats them. Don’t get me wrong, maybe they are there for exercise or camaraderie, but they will never win. They probably won’t even try to out sprint a buddy. They don’t believe they should do well, and they won’t.

Then there are the At leasters. Most of us fall into this category and we have the most to gain from changing our mindset. We’re decent racers, genetically middle of the road, but we tend to let our minds limit our performance. We may win or place in an occasional race, or we may get blown out in a race, but we tend to finish mid pack. When we win a race we’re super pumped and start to dream big. The problem is that after another race or two our mind gets the best of us and we slip back into our old mindset of mediocrity. We start to think “I’m good, but not that good.” The opposite occurs when we get blown out. “I not great, but I shouldn’t get beaten by Insert Name.” Your mind saves you from complete loserdom, but just enough to get your mind and body back to your comfort zone.

I find it interesting that when I race with people I know, there are certain people that I accept losing to and people that I refuse to lose to. Winners never accept a loss. Non-Winners accept nothing else. Those of us in the middle ground are the ones that need to talk ourselves up. Channel your inner Stuart Smalley if you have to. Treat everyone in front of you like they are someone you should never lose to. If a dude you don’t know passes you, he is the enemy. He’s a Non Winner and doesn’t deserve to be in front of you. There is no room for complacency in ‘Cross and the CX gods know that I have had moments of complacency. Bad days are bad days and there will be some, but accepting mediocrity will get you exactly that. Mediocrity. The mind of a racer can be a fragile thing, but at the end of the day if you win or lose a CX race, no one at work or the grocery store will be asking for your autograph. Our drive to race is motivated by something entirely different, so unless you’re already a winner, change your mindset and go for the win. Sometimes it will take mental gymnastics to trick yourself into believing that you deserve it, but whatever it takes.

Race fast . . . take chances.

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