|Ken Wiley at the 2016|
Wilmington Whiteface 100k
(Photo courtesy of WW100k)
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." -Walt Whitman
We all have mental and physical limits. Some races test them more than others. At the 2016 Wilmington Whiteface 100k mountain bike race Ken Wiley endured a driving rainstorm that turned the course into 60 miles of slick roots and more mud than any drive train could handle. Multiple broken chains may have slowed his progress but did not deter his will. His 5:34 finish was good enough for 100th place but more than that his experience taught an important lesson.
A Lesson In Attitude & Effort
Once an event has started we can only control two things; our attitude and our effort. Attention directed at anything else (the weather, course conditions, our competition) steals vital energy and may affect performance. Athletes that are able to overcome tremendous obstacles and adversity understand that their effort follows their attitude. It's normal human behavior to have negative thoughts. It's common to have these thoughts during challenging athletic endeavors. Successful athletes have the same negative inner dialogue as anyone else but the difference is they identify these thoughts as counter to their goals and quickly redirect attention to positive affirmations (ie. "I am prepared to suffer."). If a negative attitude dominates the consciousness, the effort begins to feel exponentially more difficult and a vicious cycle of negative attitude and increased effort leading to a more negative attitude throws them into a devastating downward performance spiral.
On race day remember that you only have control of two things; your attitude and your effort. But these are the most important two things to you reaching your performance goals. It's okay to have negative thoughts. Just be prepared to identify them and then redirect them toward positive affirmations that improve attitude and therefore performance.