Have you ever battled the voices in your head that tell you it’s too far, too painful, and too hard? Words are powerful—especially the ones you repeat to yourself.
Whether you’re a new cyclist or an experienced racer, carefully chosen words are the one (mental) thing that can help push your riding performance to new heights.
Much like the food you eat on a ride to keep your physical energy up, your words are the mental fuel you need to help you:
✓ Pedal faster
✓ Maintain a steady cycling habit
✓ Climb hills
✓ Bolster endurance
✓ Dig deep
That’s right – your inner monologue has a major impact on whether you’ll ride for say, 30 miles or 40. And whether you’ll cover those 30 miles in two hours or three. What you’ll learn here is how you can deliberately and consistently use power words to mentally fuel your rides.
And, as you’ll learn below, how the words you choose to use on your rides can help you pedal faster and longer.
HOW RESEARCH REVEALED THE ENORMOUS IMPACT OF WORDS
Researchers gathered 24 cyclists to learn how their inner self-talk influenced riding ability. What they suspected was cyclists shortened their workouts because their mind – not their muscles – were tired.
So they split the cyclists into two groups.
One group rode with no further coaching or instruction. The second group was coached to repeat motivational statements like ‘drive forward’ and ‘feeling good’ as they rode.
Cyclists who used encouraging statements rode longer than those who didn’t.
That’s not all, though.
In another study, researchers recruited 14 recreational male cyclists. This time, cyclists reported when they repeated negative comments to themselves. After pinpointing those negative statements, they crafted positive, motivational statements to counteract the negative ones.
For this study, cyclists wrote one negative and one motivational statement for the start of the time trial and for each 2 km section.
For example, one cyclist wrote, ‘I’ve worked too hard’ and exchanged it for a positive statement, ‘I can manage my energy until the end’. Then, the cyclists rehearsed their motivational statements before the time trial.
The result? A faster time trial with more power.
HOW TO USE POWER WORDS WHEN YOU’RE RIDING
These two studies prove that a few key swaps to your words can help you ride further, faster, and with more power.
Here’s how you can use it when you’re cycling.
1. Take note of when you’re beating yourself up.
This requires a bit of attention from you, but don’t stress yourself out over every negative thought you have. Are those voices in your head telling you, ‘you can’t’, ‘you’re not fast enough’, and ‘this is too hard’?
Does the negative chatter tend to appear when it’s too cold outside? When you’re pushing the pace? Climbing a hill? On a group ride? You’ve got to observe when and where that voice happens to deal with it effectively.
2. Find and build an arsenal of power statements that give you energy.
Now, what works for one cyclist may not work for another, but here are some phrases to get you started:
- Keep pushing
- You’re ready for this
- Fast and smooth
- Let’s do this
- As long as I breathe, I attack – Bernard Hinault
- Stay tough
- You’re doing well
- Push through this
- Light it up
3. Swap your statements
Remember how in the second cycling self-talk study, one cyclist exchanged a negative statement for a positive one? He swapped ‘I’ve worked too hard’ for ‘I can manage my energy until the end. Any time you’ve noticed negativity creeping in on a ride, counteract it with a motivational, positive phrase.
So when the thoughts of ‘this is too hard’ bubbles to the surface, you’re ready to replace it with one that’s far better – ‘you’re ready for this’.
‘I can’t climb this hill.’ ➡️ ‘Let’s do this.’
‘This is too fast.’ ➡️ ‘ Fast and smooth’.
‘I don’t have any energy left.’ ➡️ ‘Push through this.’
4. Train with your power words
Much like how you train to get better on your bike, you’ll get better with using power phrases when you use them often when you’re riding.
THE QUICK TIPS ✏️
1| Take note of when you’re beating yourself up
2| Build an arsenal of power words to use on rides
3| Swap your statements
4| Train with your power words
If you have any questions or need more information or think you could benefit from one-to-one coaching on this or any other aspect of mental training please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Message me via The Mind Coach on Facebook, Instagram; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07704 336835. No obligation and all queries dealt in confidence. Happy cycling!