Wednesday, January 9, 2008

you are what you think

I was sorting through a pile of papers yesterday and I came upon a little piece of paper (a page from my car's mileage log) with scribbled notes. I had scribbled those notes after the last mountain bike race of the season last year, as I rushed to the airport to fly to Denver. at the time, I had intended to blog about an experience I'd had during that race, but life got in the way, the paper shuffled around, and I eventually forgot about it. but finding that piece of paper yesterday brought back a rush of memories.

you see, I had intended to blog my thoughts about another racer. it really doesn't matter who she is. she could be anyone, really, and I'm sure at one time or another just about everyone has behaved the way she did.

she was new to racing last season. she was one of those women who always had an excuse to explain her performance. in her mind, she was faster than all of us and should have won every race, but bad luck prevented that with a variety of mechanical and medical issues. her excuses weren't what I planned to blog about, but rather just to give you an idea about her temperament.

I had intended to blog about her potty mouth! yea, I said potty mouth. everytime something happened in a race, she would drop a string of f-bombs. you could see the look on her face -- negative.

she'd miss a section: $&#)@%!

couldn't complete a pass: *$)_%($!

didn't like the weather: $&@#(#!

didn't win the sprint: *$%#@*!

you get it. potty mouth. it started before the race began and continued long into the parking lot as we were cracking a beer.

potty, potty, potty!

at first glance, you might assume she didn't enjoy racing. maybe she raised in bar or a brothel. but on further examination, I realized that she was just a negative person. her potty mouth wasn't isolated just to mountain biking -- it carried over into everything she talked about.

I know other racers, on the other hand, who are always smiling and never swearing. they love the sport and appreciate the experience of racing. and they win lots of races. and even when they don't win, they come out on top because they truly love the experience.

so, what's all this have to do with the price of tea?

negative self-talk can change the outcome of your life.

dramatic? yes. true? probably.

I'm sure there's some psychologist-type out there in blogland who can substantiate this claim with facts, figures, and statistics, but here's what I know.

attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

if you believe you can win a race, you might actually do it.

but if you don't believe you can win a race, you probably won't.

the mind is a powerful force.

in the coming weeks, as you set goals for your season, think about how you approach your events. are you an optimist? are you looking forward to your events? can you set positive goals? do you smile?

try some positive visualization. imagine yourself being successful. imagine yourself smiling and laughing. imagine the possibilities if you can let go of your negative self and let your positive self out to play.


bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

It is possible to have a potty mouth without the negative attitude, though...for example, I was raised by trucking sailors and I'm pretty sure my first word was $h*t ;).

velogirl said...

you just made me spurtle, Panda! good one! then again, I always see you with a smile (or a smiling grimace) except maybe Livermore Hills in 2006.

Nome Agusta said...

Mc Link updated

Chris said...

I read a book by Thomas Prehn. You may recognize his name. He raced with guys like Phinney and Lemond. He states that he feels successful racing is almost as much mental as it is physical. He said he would get to know the course prior to the race and spend hours visualizing the race in his head including his winning move and his accent onto the podium. I think you are right on the money with the positive thought.

velogirl said...

thanks, Nome!

Chris, I have to agree with you. a racer can have all the fitness in the world and never win a race if his mental game is lacking.

in my experience, we behave in stress situations (like a race) the same way we behave in non-stress situations (like training). when I lead indoor training for our racers, we spend a lot of time with visualization. we do the same when we pre-ride a course. over the years, my women have told me again and again that they heard my voice in their head at a crucial moment during a race.

katiekelly said...

As a swimmer in my late teens, I had the potty mouth. I developed it while swimming for a verbally abusive junior college swim coach. To protect myself from his potential abuse, I would put myself down to shield myself from whatever was coming. So consider the potty mouth's background.

Once I got away from that verbally abusive coach, I discovered that my potty mouth was holding me back. I was much more harsh on myself than my new swim coach or any of my teammates, who were all very nice to me, despite me being the slowest one. You mean my value as a person isn't contingent upon my performance in the pool? Far out. Many of my teammates were on their way to full rides at Division I schools, or even the Olympic Trials, so when my coach could find something "good" about my race, even though I was seconds or even minutes behind the other swimmers, it meant something to me. I learned that it's not about where you come from or even where you are, but where you're going. We're all just trying to get better.

velogirl said...

such excellent advice, Katie! you've always been a wise woman in my book, and this just reinforces that opinion.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Eddy Merckx was famously quoted as saying that "cycling is 80% mental and only 20% physical". That man knows a little about winning, you could say.

There was a time when I won many races, when life was less complicated, but now I race because I still love the thrill of it. Sure, winning is awesome and I get pretty jazzed if it happens, but I race with a smile because it is something I am passionate about. It's been a great love of mine for over 20 years and cycling still pays the bills... so it's all good.

Attitude makes a world of difference.

(Enjoyed the post about the soup experience too... very familiar story.)

velogirl said...

love of sport! makes me wonder why someone who doesn't love riding would race? or train to race? thanks for the words of widsome and encouragement, Masi Guy!

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Hey, no problem- I'm here to help... it's what I do... or... something (I'm not really sure WHAT it is I do).