Commentary: Following are the comments left last week. Great thoughts here from some past T.I. Vets, so take these to heart.
"Definitely the mental part is the most important. My riding partner Hellmut and I have been talking about the subconscious part that almost hinders you from making the checkpoints so that you don't have to keep going. We are focusing a lot more on mental strength this time than physical."
T.I. Dinosaur Club
"I believe the most important thing one can do to prepare mentally... 1.) Recognize that at some point you are going to reach a very dark place. and 2.) Decide BEFOREHAND how you are going to react when you get there. If you wait until you get there to decide, you will make the wrong decision. That, and like GT said... keep a level head and remain calm. Good luck to all preparing for TIV7. "
"Yep, stay in the moment. When I get low I look around and say to myself "this is where I wanted to be and what I trained for. I'm here and I'm doing it."
Don't think too far ahead. Think about that next cue on the sheet not how much further it is to the finish.
Yes, it's 90% mental, but you won't get to 100% without that 10% physical and the best way to train for the mental is to train for the physical.
Easier said than done of course."
"All good tips. Here's one that I use. Think about the race every day for about a year. I try to picture myself succeeding, meeting my goals. Accept nothing else."
Observations: Wow! The wisdom these guys have blows me away. I'll comment on a couple of things that stick out to my mind.
- Self Defeatism: Ari brought up something I've heard mentioned by many riders that have lined up at long events like T.I. and failed. They mention many times about how the checkpoint will be a "mercy killing" if they make it too late. Once that thought creeps into your head, you may as well mail it in. Sometimes we do this in our training too. We set a goal, but take a short cut home once we get face to face with the "hurt locker". We don't want to open that door! Obviously, there are several factors that go into a decision to "pull the plug", but this negative thought about missing a time cut off is a mental trap, most times.
- That leads us to Jim C's excellent advice. How will you respond? Decide now, or maybe, on a training ride that gets tough, uncomfortable, or frustrating. Practice working through tough spots.
- Matt Maxwell's advice blew me away. How true! This is where we want to be! Out there riding till we're stupid and farther. It's what you came to do. Then again, (and like I say- this is never easy. No one said it is easy), you've got to be smart too. Don't keep on with an injury, or a developing one, that will kill your riding for a long time. Know when to say when, and come back to ride another day. It is important to know what you are battling. Is it mental or physical? Decide which, and deal with it appropriately.
- Matt's next point is one of my favorites. It reminds me of that old riddle: "How does a man eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time." Trans Iowa is the "elephant". Like Matt suggests, don't look at the entire beast. Dissect it into "chewable parts", and enjoy!
- Matt makes a final point that is so obvious, it's like a punch to the mid-section. That said, most folks get hung up on the physical, and forget to think while they are training about how they will think in the event. (If that makes any sense!)
- Tim Ek is one of my favorite T.I. vets. This advice is pure "Eki". "Never Say Quit". Envision success. Again, like Matt said above, it is training your mind to think through the barriers and accept nothing short of the goal. No getting to checkpoints late to stop the misery. No freaking out, worrying, or fear. Just calmly going out to get what you came for. (Again- it ain't easy, and you'll still be "dealing with your demons", but unless you are prepared, you won't succeed.)