Power of Mental Suffering

The power of mental suffering in Cycling

Not only does cycling require physical strength and energy, it also includes a whole lot of mental power as well.  If fact, the power of mental suffering can help you do things on a bike that power and strength could never do.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginning cyclist making your way up a small hill, or a seasoned pro who’d climbing the west side of Col du Tourmalet…..it’s your mental power that is going to get you to the top.

Well that’s my opinion, but I’m no cycling psychology expert….but I do know one.  So I’ve enlisted the help of Carrie Cheadle who just happens to hold a Master of Arts degree in sport psychology.  Oh, and she’s also worked with a whole bunch of cyclists and has been involved with many different cycling journals, including Cycling News, Bike Monkey Magazine, and Podium Sports Journal.

I asked Carrie a few questions on the Power of Mental Suffering and how it applies to cycling and here is what she had to say:

Loving the Bike:  Is it true that when someone is really pushing themselves on a bike and they feel like they could never do this again, there is a reaction in the body that makes an athlete forget about the last time and allows them to go out there and do it again?

Carrie Cheadle Cycling Psychology

Carrie with one of her cycling clients

Carrie Cheadle:  I would have to go and do some extra research to see if there is an actual phenomenon occurring, but here is what I do know; your brain likes to store memories of events that have a strong emotional reaction connected to them.  If you think about all of your strongest memories, you can probably pinpoint some big emotions tied to each one.

If you are on a big climb and have moments when you feel like you can’t possibly make it to the top, whether or not you choose to tackle that climb again depends on your reaction to the situation and how you decided to catalog that memory.  If you got to the top of a hard climb and felt elated, your brain will get the message “That climb sucked, but I did it and I feel amazing.”   The next time you’re suffering on that climb, you’ll remember that you’ve been in this situation before and you have more in you than you think.

If at any point during the climb you mentally suffered, (meaning anything that elicits your stress response or challenges your ego) and experienced fear or anger, you’ll probably think twice before you consider doing that climb again.  You could have hit a steep part of the climb and felt fear of falling over.  It could have been harder than you anticipated and you felt angry that you aren’t as fit as you thought.  If you don’t have any strong reaction, then it won’t be as strongly imprinted as a memory and it gets catalogued as “just another training ride.”  If you did have a strong negative reaction and you decide to go for it again, then something about the experience was worth it – there is something in there that you value so even though you suffered, you decide to do it again.

Loving the Bike:  Do you feel that mental power is more beneficial in certain circumstances such as a cyclist climbing a hill?  Or is physical strength and endurance still more important?

Page 1 of 2 | Next page