Positive Spin for 2008 and Beyond
By Dr. Kathryn C. Wilder
October is the ideal time of year to reflect upon your 2008 road cycling season. Exploring the patterns, trends and developments of your season, will help you to actualize your potential for the 2009 cycling season. Reviewing this past season will help you to realize that your cycling season can be portrayed as a story. The stories from your 2008 season are intertwined with the drama and experiences of everyone who surrounds you, and becomes part of your cycling history.
Answer the questions in the Cycling History Questionnaire (below) to pull together your cycling story. Stories can reflect simple or more complex individual life experiences, are flexible, and are sought to create greater cohesion within the whole person. Your cycling is not a separate entity from you as a human being. The flow of events of the cycling season are intricately connected to your life experiences. You are the character in your own story, therefore your stories need to be rich, and deeply embedded in reality.
The Cycling History Questionnaire is likely to capture a real sense of your drive, energy, passion, and intensity for your sport. Your candid anecdotes will enable you to: discover patterns, external goals accomplished, and the internal significance of those goals.
Cycling History Questionnaire
Now is the time to do this short exercise below. Go ahead, get out a pen and paper and answer these questions. You are the main character, and your cycling history deserves to be documented, if you desire to achieve your next set of goals.
1. Did you achieve your goals for the 2008 season?
2. What was your most memorable race experience?
3. What was your most memorable training experience?
4. In the past, what were some of the obstacles you have faced? Did you overcome these obstacles in 2008?
5. Did you have fear of success, and fall short of achieving your major goal?
6. Are you motivated by a desire to achieve success?
7. Did you fall back into old patterns? If yes, what will it take for you to break free from these old patterns to make it to the next level of cycling achievement?
8. Are you able to accept your 2008 results and move on?
9. Did factors outside of cycling impact your cycling performance? What were these factors?
10. What is the recurring theme that appears in your cycling story?
Re-living your cycling season will help you to re-visit your purpose, and re-commit to your vision in the off-season. You are the central character of your own drama, and your performance in cycling is directly related to these cumulative experiences. In your cycling story there is likely a dominant theme that is repeated over and over.
If you achieved your goals, that can be a positive influence, and motivation during winter training. Conversely, if you did not achieve your goals, it can be further motivation for you to "dig deeper", and do the work that you need to achieve your goals for the 2009 season. These examples are called intrinsic, or internal motivational factors. If these strategies are not enough to sustain your motivation, then you may need to resort to extrinsic motivational factors. What do I mean by that? Extrinsic motivation refers to outside forces or influences. For example, it may help for you to hire a coach (if you do not already have one) to put together a program that you will adhere to in the winter. Or, find a compatible friend/training partner who will challenge you during your training sessions, and hold you accountable for completing the work. It's preferable to be intrinsically motivated, but when you need a little extra "zip", find those extrinsic motivators to keep you on track.
So much of sport psychology is about perception. How you perceive a race is an important measurement of performance. Take the same outcome, and one cyclist may be thrilled, and another cyclist may be disappointed. The difference is how the performance met the individual's expectations, and their perception of whether they performed to their capabilities on any given day. Think of perception like a spinning wheel. Like a wheel in motion, how you perceive a situation is constantly evolving. How you feel about your experience is a very important measurement of performance. Your perception of both the process of a race, and the outcome of the race contributes to both your short and long term motivation. Often, finding a positive spin on a "negative" performance can help you overcome minor obstacles to achieve your long-term goals.
The Cycling History exercise enables you to reflect upon your season, and to fully determine your strengths and weaknesses. It is valuable information to collect. And, now you can put it together to be your "story" for 2008. The purpose of your story is to evoke a strong sense of feeling, and understanding of the main character - you.
Speaking of you, if you are a road cyclist, you are now in the "off-season". The Fall is a great time of year to "cross-train". As a seasoned cyclist, the physiological benefits of cross-training are most likely obvious to you. But how about the psychological benefits? The psychological benefits of "cross-training" this time of year are abundant. This is the best time of year, to remember what makes cycling fun for you. You can start riding your cross bike, or mountain bike, and go for fun, social rides with your friends. Or, you can re-visit another sport that you love whether it is basketball, in-line skating, running or swimming. Whatever activities make you feel energetic, alive, and fully in the present moment are the best choices.
Having fun now will contribute to your long-term motivation in cycling. Re-discovering the fun, freedom and adventure that cycling offers will remind you to be grateful that you have found the sport in the first place. Call or email your friends, and set up a "coffee shop" ride. Enjoy the relaxation, camaraderie, laughter and playfulness of the ride with your friends. Perhaps, sign up for a ride that raises money for cause that you feel good about supporting.
Bask in having fun in the off-season. Exercise your own free-will, and recognize that it is a personal choice to race your bicycle. Once you feel refreshed, and excited about the 2009 season, then it is time to create your next set of goals. Beginning November 1, 2008 use this new-found determination, vitality, and passion to get a jump-start on the 2009 season.