Just as there’s power in training your body, there’s power in training your mind. Having clear intent for each and every ride in your training plan is an important part of becoming the rider you are aiming to be. You have your training plan for the month with well-crafted instructions tailored to your performance goals, but what about the motivation to get you out the door when obstacles arise? As we enter October and the ensuing winter month with shorter days, more darkness and colder temperatures, getting on your bike can be harder than when you have a race season looming right in front of you as motivation to train.
I sometimes hear athletes say some of these things: “I have to ride today.” “I need to do my ride.” “My training plan says I’m supposed to….” Note the language they’re using about their training. The words, “have to”, and “need to” and “supposed to” imply that there’s really not a choice, and something or somebody else is making them ride. When you lose sight of the ultimate purpose of following a training plan, the quality of the ride can become lost to “just another training day”. There you are spinning, following your coach’s directions, with months of training yet to come and not really paying attention to how important every moment you spend on that bike is.
Physical performance can be developed with the guidance of a training plan. But, overall quality as a rider can be greatly deepened and enriched by getting a strong sense of a purpose behind the plan. This means identifying and articulating why it is that improving on a bike is important to you. You may ride because you love it, you want to be healthy, it relaxes you, keeps you sane or you want to win 5 races next season. There is a wealth of energy, motivation and power to be found if we take these reasons for training a step further.
Here is a tool that can serve you well at times if your focus or get-up-and-go wanes. It is called the Results Process. I recommend you use it when you find yourself low on energy, bored, complacent, simply lacking motivation or so busy that you can justify skipping your training. While your coach is available to support you and your training goals, the Results Process is a tool you can call on anytime to get clarity about your goal and stay proactive and purposeful so that every day’s training is a significant and conscious act of personal choice. Every pedal stroke becomes powerfully meaningful.
Use the steps of the Results Process when you can specify a result you want to create in your life. By being very specific with your goal, you deepen your motivation and connect with your underlying feelings about what you are envisioning. And then, you get to identify the actions that will lead you to your result.
1. Define the result by putting into words exactly what it is you are going for.
Make your result concrete, time-based and measurable. For example, I want to win a local race in April 2009. Or, I want to win a 24-hour race by July 2009.
2. Deepen your intention by exploring the intention behind your stated result, and get in touch with the powerful underlying feelings that give your goal its true personal significance.
Why do want to spend time and energy achieving this?
What does it really mean to you?
Pursue your underlying vision by breathing into the feelings that come up as you connect with deeper and deeper levels of your motivation. You can reach deeper into your purpose by asking the question: “because…?”
‘Why do you want to win a local race?’
‘Because it’ll show that I’m strong.’
‘You want to be strong because…?’
‘Because then others will respect me as a racer.’
‘And you want to be respected by others as a racer because…?’
‘Because I’ve devoted myself to becoming a stronger racer and I’m worth respecting.’
‘And you are worth respecting because…?’
‘Because I am willing to explore my potential for strength through daily devotion and commitment.’
Notice how exploring potential, being strong, devoted and committed is a more effective motivation than just winning a race.
Don’t be afraid to pursue this as far as you can get. It is the deep meanings, and the feelings that accompany them, which provide the energy necessary to take action and follow through when obstacles arise.
3. Visualize the result:
With your eyes closed, let yourself form a clear mental picture of the result you are going to create. Allow yourself to see the result in your mind’s eye, and keep breathing into the feelings that come up, until this experience is completely real for you.
4. Make specific agreements about what you will do.
These agreements involve giving your word to carry out certain actions. Like the result itself, the agreements you make need to be specific, time-based and measurable. Your Wenzel Coach is your partner in this part of the process.
5. Define the support needed to carry out your agreements
Let people, in addition to your coach, know what result you are going for. Tell your family. Arrange to have a friend check in with you about how you are upholding your agreements to yourself. Organize riding partners and times of day that will support the goal you are set on achieving. Arranging support may be the crucial step in creating results that actually happen.
Now, you have another tool at your disposal to develop yourself as far as you want to go. It is the time to you bring your best self forward. May this process serve you well!
MC Jenni, of Missoula, Montana, is a Wenzel Coach specializing in road cycling and is a CHEK (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology) Practitioner. (She is grateful to the More to Life Program (www.MoreToLife.org) founded by Brad Brown and Roy Whitten for this Results Process and has used it to support many endeavors in her own life.)