What Are You Thinking?

A cyclist rolls up to the start line. The racer looks at the other competitors and starts thinking, “These folks are much better than I am” or “I am not good enough to race with these competitors”. Jens Voigt may say, “Shut up legs,” but this racer needs to say “Shut up head and stop the negative thinking!” Are you that racer? What are you thinking that can prevent you from being successful?

I have a client so committed to his training and his power numbers reflect his efforts. When this rider is training with a group he out-sprints and out-rides the pack. You put this rider in a race though and before it has even started he has lost due to his negative thoughts. Why do we sometimes have these negative thoughts maybe it is due to?


Fear of failing is a big one. You can set yourself up to disappoint yourself, your teammates, even your family, and friends. (Especially if they are standing on the sidelines!)


While you are waiting for a race you may become nervous and negative thoughts pop in your head or you might even arrive at the race being nervous. Thoughts of “did I train hard enough?” “Did I train correctly?” “Am I strong enough?” and the list goes on and on. Just remember to calm your nerves down and use the energy to your advantage. When you are a little nervous you will pay more attention to who is around you, where you are in the pack and who is moving up or back.

Lack of Confidence

The negative thoughts could also be coming from a lack of confidence. Ask yourself, “Where is the lack of confidence coming from?” Is it because you are not doing your prescribed training or cheating on the number of intervals? Maybe you are not confident with your skills – does riding too close to others make you nervous? Are you breaking before a corner? Are you thinking too much and second-guessing yourself during a race, “Should I go now or should I wait?”

Here are some solutions for Fear, Nerves and the Lack of Confidence:

1. Record all your workouts
On TrainingPeaks your daily workout will be “green” when completed. Have a goal for the month of all green. Review your results starting from last month. Look at the number of intervals you can do now in your power range compared to how many you could do 4 weeks ago – a definite confidence builder!

2. Accomplish small goals
Working towards a big goal is always made up of meeting little goals. Every accomplishment you make along the way gives you more confidence.

3. Self-talk
Every motivational book I have ever read or listened to stresses the importance of confirming what you will accomplish. Use positive self-talk at the starting line like reaffirming how you put in the work and completed all your training, that you gave each workout 100%. Remind yourself that you feel good, you are excited and that this will be fun. Why else would you be doing this if it wasn’t fun!


Important for both racers and recreational riders

4. Practice your skills
Get your teammates or friends together to practice going around corners, riding in a pack, even basic paceline skills. Practice and practice some more – what do you think training is? Training is Practice!  Check out Confidence – Lose to Learn.

5. Race more and ride more Charity, Grand Fondo or group rides
The more you race and ride, the more you learn and the more confident you will be for the next one.

6. Write a race report
I request my clients write a report after each race. A race report helps athletes learn – it reinforces how they raced, what tactics they saw used and what they can do better next time. Race reports can build an athlete’s confidence and is a tangible record of their racing history plus.

The Biggy!

7. Know the course
If at all possible ride the course before your event! There is nothing worse than the “unknown”. If you are riding a century or a double century, do your training rides on the course. Break up the course into sections and tackle a different section each weekend. If this is a race and you cannot pre-ride the route because of traffic issues or other reasons, then at least drive the course. Drive the course at the speed you feel the race will maintain.