We've talked about tire choices, training methods, nutrition etc. Do you have any mental strategies that you use or 100+ mile races?
It seems that I can go fast and hard for 80 miles or so and then I start to break down and ease off at the end. I need to find a way to put myself in the game mentally all the way to the end. I know everyone is different but I could use some ideas on where to start/train my brain. Thanks in advance for your input.
For my long races I constantly gauge how I am feeling in relation to my "redline". For me I tend to push bigger gears than I should and push a big gear when I get tired. So I keep "checking in" with my legs to make sure that I am staying under my "redline". After using a Powertap in training, I find that monitoring of my body is easier to do. I know what it feels like when I am pushing a lot of watts and for how long I can do that. Before the Powertap, I played it fairly conservatively in races and then dropped the hammer at a distance from the end where I thought I could just let it all hang out and still make it to the end. As for what goes on in my head during races...songs, daydreams, and positive self talk all get scattered in there as well.
I do that too, but after some physio/metabolism testing I've learned that what's really going on is that I'm tapped out on fuel and haven't been getting enough calories. I break down mentally because my brain doesn't have any sugar!
Originally Posted by Thomas O
So I've been working on the timing of my pre-race meal and how I eat on the bike. Before I was eating breakfast as close to the start as possible, dealing with a full unhappy stomach for the first 2 hours of the race, and then starting to eat carbs 2 or 3 hours into the race, which wasn't working. Now I get breakfast in a good 2 hours before the start, and start in with the simple carbs as soon as I settle into my rhythm for the race (about 30 mins in). So far it is working a lot better. And I race harder at the end because I'm ready to be done and get to the beer tent!
Resisting that urge to take off like a bat out of hell is hard. It's hard to watch people ride off into the distance, but knowing that it's a long race and you'll soon be passing them helps. I always chuckle to myself when I pass them young rabbity guys at mile 68 or so.
Like any other race, I try not to get complacent and get stuck on somebody's wheel if their pace is comfortable. I always try to keep pushing myself. Sometimes I need the lactic acid or the cramps to remind me I'm going too hard.
I do stop at the feed stations and stretch my lower back and refuel. I do it as fast as I can, but generally 11 minutes over 7-8 hours isn't that big of a deal.
You've arrived at the exact plan that works for me, too. If the race is stupid early, I barely even eat breakfast. My body just doesn't seem to want real food at 4:15 AM, and eating at 5 or so with a 6:15 start time is a sure-fire loser for me.
Originally Posted by 3blackbikes
So for those races, my "breakfast" usually ends up being one large 400 calorie Perp/Heed/Gatorade bottle that I slowly work my way through between waking up and hitting the starting line.
OTOH, with a 9 or 9:30 start, I just eat my normal breakfast a little before 7, and all is good.
Whining is not a strategy.
I think what you are asking is about discipline to ride consistently throughout a long race. Do you have a heart rate monitor or power meter? If so, monitor it and stick to a level you think is comfortable. It may take experience to determine base on your fitness.
Mental toughness to me is when you climbing for an hour and your turn a corner and see a whole lot of vertical still need to be climb, then you think about quitting or not. Mental toughness would get you to continue on.
Discipline is the ability for you to put out steady output throughout the race.
Just my thoughts.
As for nutrition as people brought up. From nutritional seminars I've attended for cycling, you really have to prepare the day before, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even the day before that you should think about what to and what not to eat. The morning off is often too late. You need to fuel your body mainly the day before, less fibre, more carbs. I still wake up 3 hours before a race and eat almost a box of mac and cheese. I'll eat enough to be full. On a long race, you have to eat and drink regularly. No more than about 300 calories a hour. I no longer use Gatorade and I feel and perform much better especially on very long rides or races. Eat your calories, don't drink them.
Watch this: Keeping it real with hydration science and practice to make you faster - YouTube
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