12-Week Guide to Cycling

Picture your success

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Look ahead to your 25 km ride and see yourself completing it in style…

The short visualization exercise you did at the start of the programme was all about tuning your mind into what you wished to achieve. It’s a great exercise because your mind works with your body in focusing it on the goal. It is able to see what is needed to get to the end goal even before your body is ready. And because of this it will work with your body until such time as it is ready.

But for some reason the word ‘visualization’ scares some people. Maybe it’s because some of us reject the more chest-thumping motivational speakers, who advocate the technique, as a bit over the top. And yet you use visualization techniques every day of your life. It’s just that you don’t think of them as such.

When you look ahead to things you want, for instance your dream house, you are using this technique. You are allowing you mind to see what you want. You see the number of bedrooms you would like. You’ll add in the bathrooms you’ll need (en-suite for yourself maybe?). Then you’ll picture the garden with the play area for the children, or the big space for the dog to run around in. Who knows, maybe there’s a swimming pool somewhere in the scenario too.

If you are like most people, you’ll have filled in the details too. You’ll know the style of the house’s architecture, the type of floors you want, even the layout and colour schemes in the rooms. You are visualizing what you want and even if you don’t know it, you are setting your mind to work to achieve your dream. It might take many years but in a few years you could be living in that dream house, thanks in part to the hard work of your mind. But your mind was only able to do this because you allowed it to picture the end result (the house).

If such techniques can work on something as big as a house, it’ll be a stroll in the park to use it for this 25 km cycle ride. So take a few minutes to repeat the visualization exercise, except this time fill in the details. The more you picture the details, the more comfortable you will be on the day itself. This is because you are using your ‘future memory’, something you have ‘remembered’ but which has not happened yet. Again, find somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed, and close your eyes if this helps you to concentrate.
Picture yourself getting up and preparing everything for your ride. ‘See’ details such as the colour of the kit you will wear. Go through the motions of ‘seeing’ yourself filling up your water bottle and clipping it on to your bike. Think about the type of things you might chat to your training buddy about once you have met up.

‘See’ yourself at the start, feeling happy and enthusiastic. ‘Smell’ the freshness in the air and feel the metal of your bike frame as you climb on to get going. ‘Feel’ comfortable as you push off and start to clock up the first few kilometres. You’re soon at the halfway mark feeling strong and confident. ‘Enjoy’ the feeling of those pedals spinning effortlessly, as more kilometres tick by. Don’t be afraid to tackle a couple of hills in your mind as you will fear them less come the day of your ride.

What are you and your training buddy chatting about as you enter the last part of your ride? ‘Feel’ the refreshment of the water on your lips as you take a drink. It’s the last few kilometres. You’ve trained hard, so you have nothing to fear. Take in as many details as you can, from the sights, to the smells, to the noises. Picture yourself enjoying the last few metres, knowing nothing can stop you. Then ‘feel’ elated at having successfully completed the challenge and head off to ‘enjoy’ your reward. You’ve done it now, the real thing will be a doddle.