Endurance Sports Psychology Guide - Fast Talk Labs

How to Race and Win with the Right Mindset

Mindset in cycling, especially racing, is an important and frequently neglected side of our training. Mindset is often all that separates the best from second best and can be the difference between reaching the podium or finishing a race.

Fast Talk Podcast
Photo: Natasha Connell

The best riders understand mindset wins races. And controlling your thought patterns in races is one of the most powerful things you can do.

Mindset in cycling is an important and frequently neglected side of our training and racing. It’s avoided because it seems unclear, inconsistent, and, let’s face it, can be too new-agey for the likes of us “tough guys.” In reality, mindset is often all that separates the best from second best and can be the difference between reaching the podium or finishing a race.

When Coach Connor managed Team Rio Grande, he offered to cover the costs for one of our riders for a few sessions with a top sports psychologist in Colorado. The rider refused and ultimately quit the team. But when Trevor told several high-level pros the story they all asked the same thing: “Can I get those appointments?!”

Today, we’ll delve into this concept of controlling your thoughts for performance. We’ll touch on:

  • The concept of dominant thought and why it’s so important, including whether we are funnels or buckets
  • How athletes are either task- or ego-oriented, the pros and cons of each, and why it’s important to know which one you are
  • Using trigger words to control your dominant thought
  • Why it may not actually be good to stay mentally focused for an entire race and how to pick your moments when you are on your mental game
  • And finally, how to control your thoughts when your body is screaming in pain and telling you to stop

Our primary guest today is a professor of sports psychology and is a senior teaching professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Brian Butki. Dr. Butki has worked with athletes in almost every sport, both at the university level and on professional teams in the Colorado area.

In addition to Dr. Butki we spoke with:

Dean Golich, a head coach at Carmichael Training Systems. Over decades as a top coach, Dean has worked with athletes all the way from recreational amateur riders to Olympians and world champions. He is uniquely qualified to talk about the mindset of top athletes. You may be very surprised to hear what he has to say.

Sepp Kuss, a WorldTour rider with LottoNL-Jumbo and winner of the 2018 Tour of Utah, talks with us briefly about his mindset and the danger of being too focused on the win.

Finally, local top coach Colby Pearce gives us a variety of tips on controlling your mindset both in training and in racing situations.

So let’s get to the task at hand. Find your balance. Focus your mind. But don’t get too focused… you need your breaks. Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guests
Dr. Brian Butki: Professor of sports psychology at Colorado State University

Episode Transcript



Welcome to Fast Talk, develop news podcast everything you need to know to write.


Trevor Connor  00:12

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host coach Connor here with my ever present co host Chris cage was actually not here because he’s off climbing some of the biggest mountain passes in Italy, so I’ll do my best to fill in for him this week as I introduced this episode. mindset and cycling is an important and frequently neglected side of our training and racing. It’s avoided because too many it seems unclear, inconsistent and let’s face it can be too new agey for the likes of us tough guys. In reality mindset is often all that separates the best from second best and could be the difference between reaching the podium or finishing a race. When I managed team Rio Grande I offered to cover the cost for one of our riders for a few sessions with a top sports psychologist in Colorado. He refused and ultimately quit the team. When I told several high level pros the story they asked the same thing. Can I get those appointments? The best understand mindset wins races and controlling your thought patterns and races is one of the most powerful things you can do. So today we’ll delve into this concept of controlling your thoughts for performance we’ll touch on first, the concept of dominant thought and why it’s so important, including whether we’re all funnels or buckets to how athletes are either task or ego oriented. The pros and cons of each and why it’s important to know which one you are. Third, using trigger words to control your dominant thought for why it may not actually be good to stay mentally focused for an entire race and how to pick your moments when you are on your mental game. And five, how to control your thoughts when your body is screaming and pain and telling you to stop. Our primary guest today is a professor of sports psychology and as a senior teaching professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Brian Bucky. Dr. Bucky has worked with athletes in almost every sport both at the university level and unprofessional teams in the Colorado area. In addition to Dr. Bucky. We spoke with Dean goldrich, a head coach of Carmichael Training Systems. over decades as a top coach Dean has worked with athletes all the way from recreational amateur riders to Olympians and world champions. He is uniquely qualified to talk about the mindset of top athletes. You may be very surprised to hear what he has to say. Sep coos, a world tour rider with lotto nL yumbo in a winner of the 2018 tour of Utah talks with us briefly about his mindset and the danger of being too focused on the win. Finally, local top coach Colby Pierce gives us a variety of tips and controlling your mindset both in training and racing situations. In our next episode, we’ll talk with Colby and Chris about the our record and their experience with it. But in the meantime, Kobe is going for the Masters world record from September 22 to 25th. We’re still waiting to hear if they’re gonna live streaming if they do, we’ll put a link up on the velonews page for this podcast along with our references. So let’s get to the task at hand. Find your balance, focus your mind. But don’t get too focused. You need your breaks. And let’s make it fast.


Chris Case  03:26

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Trevor Connor  04:25

So I’m going to give all of you our listeners a game. Please follow along with this. It’s kind of fun. So I want you to start by just closing your eyes.


Chris Case  04:34

Hopefully you’re not riding a bike while listening to this podcast. Yes,


Trevor Connor  04:37

if you are driving or riding a bike, please don’t close your eyes. Otherwise, yes, follow the follow the directions here. So close your eyes and now I’m going to ask you to do something and I want you to focus really hard on making sure you do what I asked you to do. What I want you to do is not picture a pink elephant. I want you to not picture a pink Elephant walking down the road, I want you to not picture the absurdity of a giant pink elephant in the middle of the street. I want you to not picture its big pink trunk, it’s pink ears. What I want you to do is not picture a pink elephant. Okay, now open your eyes. And normally this is where I asked my athletes Did you picture a pink elephant. And the fact is anybody who says they didn’t was lying.


Chris Case  05:25

I did many, many pink elephants everywhere.


Trevor Connor  05:27

So this brings up a concept. And Dr. Bucky who knows far more about this is going to certainly take my little game and show me how little I know. But what I’m trying to explain with this little story is this concept of dominant thought that we can really truly only focus on one thing at a time, and you tend to go in the direction of that thought. So it’s a good old concept of, if you’re driving a car and you look left, you’re eventually going to steer left. So the same thing, if you tell yourself not to do something, when you are racing, you’re inevitably probably going to end up doing that thing. So what you are focusing on, that’s likely what’s going to happen. And that can be important in racing, because if you’re sitting there at the back of the field saying don’t get dropped, don’t get dropped. That’s your thought. And that might be what happens. The Dodger, Bucky. Like I said, you know far more about this than I do. What are your thoughts?



You’re exactly right when I work with my athletes, and one of the first things we talk about is attention, and what you’re capable of as as an attender. And we usually use two different analogies, most people think they’re either a bucket or a funnel. And the way we look at that from a cyclist is, if you’re if you’re a bucket, that means you can put several different things in your bucket that you’re capable of attending to like, maybe you can ride your bike and focus on the road and listen to the whatever’s going on in your ear and sort of follow along with your teammates, and maybe even think about what you’re gonna have for dinner later. And all of those things can simultaneously be in your brain. So we call that multitasking. The fact is, that that’s impossible. neurologists tell us that there really is no such thing as a bucket, we’re all funnels. And the way to think about what a funnel is, if you think about a funnel has a big opening at the top, and then a small opening at the bottom. And what that would mean is we have at all times many different stimuli coming in, some of them are internal, many of them are external. But in fact, we’re only able to focus on one thing at a time. So in your pink elephant story, you just said, no matter what we were thinking about when you told us to not think about a pink elephant, that pink elephant took over our funnel, it is the one thing and the only thing that was getting through our attention span at that point, everything else was was was secondary. And in real life, what that means is usually people who are who are good at multitasking, are really good at switching back and forth, what they allow into their funnel, and then they just fill in the gaps of what they missed in between. So when you give us something dominant, like the pink elephant, or when a rider is riding, and they’re thinking, Oh, I should give up, I should drop. Now, that becomes all encompassing in their funnel, and nothing else gets in there so that they don’t allow them to think anything positive. They don’t allow themselves to think any strategy that just becomes a dominant thought in it. It hogs our funnel. So what that means is and what what I think the rest of this conversation is going to be about is how do we control what controls our funnel?


Trevor Connor  08:30

Exactly. And I’m gonna say that they haven’t done the study yet, but I am fully convinced you focus on that pink elephant, you’re gonna win a lot of races.



Depending on how much strategy is needed in that race, I


Trevor Connor  08:42

think you’re exactly right. It is never wrong to focus on a pink elephant. Right now, here’s the trick that has been my cycling career, which is probably why I get yelled at a lot



and stop thinking about the pink elephant.


Trevor Connor  08:56

So yeah, so this brings me to one of the most most enjoyable classes I took at CSU was your sports psychology class and should let the listeners know that for I haven’t been at CSU for a while, but the entire time I was there you were winning Professor of the Year with your classes, and rightfully so they’re they’re quite enjoyable. Thank you. No, I missed them. So I actually remember that class where you talked about the the bucket versus the funnel. And the same class, you talked about these goal orientations, we’re talking about task goals, task oriented goals versus ego oriented goals. So tasks been, you know, focusing on trying to do your best climb or trying to do you’re trying to keep the right cadence trying to hit the right power or ego orientation is much more competitive. It’s how do I compare against other people? How am I how am I finishing? And it seems like those can have a big impact on where your thoughts go, is that correct?



Absolutely. So before We get started, we got to give a little shout out to a woman named Joan Duda. Dr. Duda is she was at Purdue at the time. And this is kind of her her theory that’s really taken much more like that’s kind of a huge area of research in sports psychology and, and it’s held a goal orientation, and you hit it right on the nose when you when you sort of define those, some of us are task oriented. And I’ll go and say some other people are task oriented, because that’s certainly not me. But a task oriented individual measures success, by self competition by bettering themselves. It’s also known as a mastery goal orientation, where at the end of the day, you deem that day a success if you did well, based on your standards for yourself. So if you wanted to have a better sprint, start, if you wanted to get a paper finished, if you wanted to finish a podcast, if you did what you meant to do, and you and you feel good about yourself, because of yourself, then your task oriented, ego oriented folks, on the other hand, are, are much more other oriented. One of those, the people that really they don’t like to exercise on their own, because they don’t have somebody to compare themselves with. Right. So as long as they’re racing, they’re motivated. And, and it’s one of those things where even if you PR if you lose you deem that day on successful and when the theory started, Dr. Duda had those those concepts as she used the term orthogonal, which means they’re they’re they’re, they’re they’re unrelated, they’re their opposite, I guess is a better way to put that you are either at one end of the scale, ego oriented, read the other end of the scale task oriented, or you’re maybe somewhere in the middle. But it turns out that that’s probably not the case, we think there are people out there who are who are who are both. So you are independently, task oriented, higher, low, and ego oriented higher low. So somebody like like yourself, for example, Trevor could be very competition oriented. So you score high on the ego scale, but also very self comparison oriented. So you also score high on the test scale. And you are, if that description fits you, you’re a dream athlete, because you’re very easy to motivate because you compare yourself to everybody and you find motivation. Then, on the other hand, there are people who are low on both those people to be quite honest, probably aren’t athletes, because they don’t like competition, they don’t like to better themselves. And they’re probably the people who are a little bit more. I want to say sedentary but not as not as assertive in going for things. So we look for we look for people who are both. And to get back to your attention, idea that this podcast is about what your dominant motivation, whether it’s task or ego, kind of drives what’s in your head, you constantly want to get a PR you want to better yourself or you want to be that guy. And you just you just you just want to be higher up on the podium.


Trevor Connor  13:01

So one thing I found interesting, I read last night this study, and I’m gonna try or maybe I’ll try to pronounce this name. It’s Antonio’s hatsu. Georgie had Dyess, it’s a study from 2002, on the psychology of sports and exercise, I will definitely put the reference up because I’m sure I wasn’t even close to getting that name, right. And he did a bit of a review of this task versus ego oriented goals. But what he was getting at is thoughts of withdrawal. So when you’re in an event, you’re hurting, or you’re you’re not doing as well as you’d like, whether those thoughts of pulling out of the race start dominating your mind. And he found an interesting correlation with the people in his study, that people who are very ego oriented, are therefore very internally self focused. And when they start performing badly, or they’re, they’re essentially in a failure situation where they’re not accomplishing their their goal, or looks like they might not be accomplishing their goal. And he said, if you are ego oriented, and you start really becoming self conscious, you tend towards those withdrawal thoughts, you know, I’m not accomplishing this goal, this race sucks. I’m out of here, where people who are very task oriented, are much more likely to say I’m not accomplishing the goal. So how do I problem solve this? What do I do with my cadence? What do I do be more efficient on the bike? How do I position better? What are things that I can do? So I can get back to accomplishing the goal, at least that was the conclusion of that study.



It makes sense because if those folks who are ego oriented, if you’re, if you’re quite a bit back in a race, or if you’ve dropped out of the pack, you realize that competitively, you’re done. You’re not going to be successful no matter what, and you can’t really set intermediate competition goals or short term or in race competition goals, because at the end, it really matters whether you’re on the podium or not. But if you’re task oriented, you You can reset goals because it’s all about you and your thoughts about yourself. So you can say, I want to, you know, I want to get this split up this hill or my next lap, I want to, you know, make up a little bit of time or, or something that that’s totally inside you that where your number doesn’t matter. So I think I think what you’re talking about there is more short term goals, within race goals, within race motivators, I guess is a better way to put that, that as long as there’s something you can focus on, that still matters, like you’re talking about a refocus idea, then then you’re going to be much stronger, or you’re going to, you’re going to be much more motivated, much less likely to drop out. But getting back to the funnel idea. Really, what we’re trying to do is something we refer to it as a thought replacement, that instead of letting your funnel be dominated by the fact that you’re losing the fact that you can’t win the fact that you want to drop out, you instead, put something in there, well, how can I still get a success out of this and you you you become success oriented, or at least you try to become success oriented. It’s not easy. Before we started this, before we started this podcast, we were chatting a little bit about my nephew. And my nephew was a gifted writer, he’s doing very, very well. But he has a little bit of a problem in that when he falls behind, he gets dropped in a crit, or actually it’s quite a quite a good career rider, he’s more of a the peak falls back a little bit on a road race. If he knows he’s out of it, or if he thinks he’s out of it, he’ll find a way to drop out that I guess makes them makes them not look so bad. Like he’ll he’ll overemphasize the mechanical or he’ll focus on the fact that he’s got a he’s got a really bad cramp in his leg, or he’ll find a reason to drop out so and I don’t think he’d be because he competitively heat out of it. So that’s showing his his ego orientation, which is usually good for a competitive athlete. But it also like, like, like the research said,


Trevor Connor  16:53

it makes you more prone to drop out? Well, that’s the self consciousness side. And that study was saying, when you have that ego orientation, combined with being very self conscious, such as worrying about what people think, then you can start going bad places.



And that’s self consciousness, that caring what people think that touches on that ego orientation, where you’re comparing yourself to others. Yeah,


Chris Case  17:14

it seems to me too, that the there’s an element of size here we’re talking about, if your nephew starts to get dropped, the size of the task that he’s focused on is winning the race. And if he doesn’t come up with tasks and steps to get from where he is dropped from the field to winning, that’s a giant, giant size problem. But if you’re getting dropped, and you’re task oriented, and you think, okay, I can work on this, I can work on this, I can work on this, I can call my well, way back maybe to the to the back of the field, and then from there, I can take more steps. And those are bite size chunks. And through a stepwise process, you can come back from that a little bit more easily. That’s what it seems like to me.



I think I think you’re exactly right. And I think part of this is knowing knowing who you are, and knowing what your weaknesses are. And if if a coach was working with him, if we were working with him, we could say, this is an issue that we’ve noticed that maybe when you’re not contending for a podium, work on this, because this is the worst part of your race. And maybe you don’t win this race, but you have a successful race anyway, because you did better at the end or you you stayed in it even though you were out. And that’s going to make you a better rider in the future. And get you your ego goals later, even though you’re not going to get it right now. So there’s also an immediacy to it. I think the the idea of cycling and the more that I think the more they put this past versus you think likely is a really interesting sport. And when you’re when you’re competing, you really want to be ego, because you got to beat that guy. And but when you’re training, you really need to focus on tasks because sometimes your training runs are so low and it’s difficult to have a solo run. If it’s task oriented places you don’t really have to compare yourself with unless there’s a clock or or you know, a certain time you’re trying to be. But that same idea works if you’re if you’re trying just trying to beat your PR. So cyclists I think more than most sports tend to have to be both. They have to be high on task and high on ego. But again, if I had to choose I want somebody who’s past because they’re probably going to be that they can work harder alone. To go


Chris Case  19:19

back to your point about Trevor and whether he’s task oriented or ego oriented and, and I think he’s both and I know I’m pink elephant


Trevor Connor  19:27

all the way. That is all I all I focus on. Dingle is a head coach of Carmichael Training Systems has been fortunate enough to work with many Olympians and world champions. I asked him about the concept of dominant thought but it really turned into a conversation about the ego side of motivation. Goes points out that it can be negative or positive meaning Some are motivated to win others to not lose. But you may be surprised by his perspective on which is more successful. He certainly throws athletes seen what may be more important than either resilience. So I was interested, as a coach who’s worked with very high level athletes, really two questions for you is one. Have you seen this concept of dominant thought play out with these athletes? And do you see in higher level athletes a good ability to control their dominant thought?



Yeah, so maybe maybe I’m going off the deep end right here. But I don’t know that concept. Well, I’ve heard it in passing. But I would say that I’m more looked at it as a bias, I’m on more about bias of what you think, you know, isn’t the problem. It’s what you are, what you don’t know the problem isn’t a problem. It’s what you think, you know, for sure. That’s the problem. And so if my bias approaching, I found that there’s basically two types of people and, and maybe they enter, mix all the time, within themselves, of that, you’re really want to win. So you win, and you’re so afraid to lose, you win. And so there’s an insecurity, of failure that drives everything. But then there’s also a really dominant of competition, dominant side of competition mentality. And then I’ve seen people that I’ve dealt with a lot of high level, you know, Olympic medalists and World Champions, and all that kind of stuff. And I’ve seen them go through both scenarios, constantly, from month to month, year to year, and so on. And I’ll tell you, I don’t have a theory of how I deal with this. And everyone asked me like, Oh, you’ve had a lot of success with women, what do you do different? I’m like, I don’t do anything different. It’s been really the way my parents raised me, which I wish I had a better answer. But it’s like, just treat people the right way. Try to be hold them accountable. And then you go forward to the rest of it is way too complicated to figure out. So that’s what I got.


Trevor Connor  21:53

Going back to you said they’re they’re dominated often either by a desire to win or a fear of failure. When an athlete is in one state or the other, do you handle them differently?



Well, I think in my early years out of ignorance, I thought I needed to correct the insecurity part of it. And if they were afraid to fail, so then they did it. Now I realized that that’s part of human behavior. And I dealt with sports teams from, you know, the NBA, and NHL, hockey. And what I found is some of the toughest guys that you think outwardly tough, maybe the most insecure, and they’re very successful. I don’t know if they’re so successful in life, but they’re successful with their sport. And I think that maybe the differentiation of if you have a dominant thought, is that making you successful in life? Or does that make you successful at the task you’re trying to complete? And so maybe, like I said, When I was younger, I tried to correct the insecurity side, because I thought, the bias I had like, if you want to win bad enough, then that’s a positive thing. But it becomes just as negative as the insecure part. So I don’t know if that’s a good answer. The tough one I got


Trevor Connor  23:03

it sounds and I might be stretching a little bit here. But you’re almost saying that if somebody is fear, fears losing, that isn’t necessarily going to guarantee that they win or lose, it might be how they use that, that fear when they’re in competition, or how they approach it, that’s gonna determine whether they’re more likely to win or more likely to lose, I wasn’t explained that well. But does that make sense?



Yeah, and correct the other way, just because you want to win that, that doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win either. So both of them get the same result. So for example, if I make the front group because I don’t want to lift that, and I’m afraid to fail in front of everyone, I made the group. If I want to make the front group that are classic, and I want to win so bad, I make the front group, both those people may just start good. As you said,


Trevor Connor  23:50

on the flip side, I’ve seen athletes who are so overconfident, they were going to when they broke away 100 miles from the finish line. And there was no way they’re going to hold that to the end. And it actually got their overconfidence cost in the race. So it sounds like it can go both ways.



Yeah. And generally, that is a learned behavior of tactics within the sport that you learn that like, for maybe life has, maybe its own ability to correct those behaviors, but the underlying or the tactics, but the underlying behavior, I don’t know that it actually changes. But the guy who really wants to win, and he’s so confident he goes early, generally, they won’t do that again, right? Because they saw that it didn’t work and they want to win so bad. Same thing, if the person who is insecure and doesn’t want to look bad, man, wait, wait, wait, then they realize, well, now I look bad because I got dropped and I was in the back. So I’m not going to do that again. So that’s a tactical scenario, but the underlying behavior will generally correct it. What I think my the most simplistic thing is either one of those in my experience that gets you the same gold medal and we’ll get Get you a gold medal. I love that perspective. And the one thing that if I can ever give a lesson I mean, there’s a road here in Colorado Springs where I live where I’ve trained, I don’t know, three or four world champions, and Olympic medalists, and I call it the Trail of Tears, because I’ve seen the worst case scenario of every individual. And so when you’re listening all the time, and you’re going through all these struggles, you see the metal. Yeah, you see that. But that’s not the predominant view that they’ve had or the predominant mentality they had, I always see the worst case scenario. And that seems to be more encompassing by the volume of time throughout the year. So I’ve seen way more failures, way more stress, way more insecurity and way more tears. And I actually saw wins. And I think there was one time in the past Eric zobelle, one of the, you know, professional bike racers who won, I think he was 25%, successfully raised 100 times a 125. He was the most successful in that year, right of winning races. That’s a 25% success rate. So I’ve seen all the 75%. And if I don’t know if I can do this, I’m afraid I’m gonna fail. I don’t know if I should quit. I’ve seen how the worst part of it, a lot of them the mental self talk of negative or positive. Yeah, I’ve seen it manifested both ways. But the underlying behavior of being negative, I’ve seen a lot of people have successes, it’s kind


Trevor Connor  26:27

of along the lines of told many athletes and movies do us a disservice. Because when they only show 15 minutes of an athlete getting to the Olympics, or getting to some major event, it’s very easy to only show the best of them, and not to show all the struggles and the bad moments.



Correct. It’s interesting, there’s a Do you ever think that the 2000 Learn to triathlon results, they have interview with the girls afterwards, a women’s track on 2001 of the top three. And that was one of the most honest interviews of all three ladies that I’ve ever seen where they basically they got the metal, and then they kind of told the truth. I didn’t know if I was gonna be here, everything was terrible, and on and on and on. And then they got to the end result that they were looking for. But the honesty of the interviews, and that’s the one that I kind of show when I’m doing developmental camps is that your expectations is you’re going to get this medal and it’s going to do all this for your life or whatever you think the winning is going to do for your life. And here’s all the things you have to go through to get it. And maybe sometimes it isn’t worth,


Trevor Connor  27:36

I watched a a friend she was she got an Olympic spot, but she had other women sabotage in her bike, she had one woman take her to court for the month before the Olympics to try to take her spot from her when she was exhausted by the time she got there. And whenever I hear athletes say it’s it’s amazing just to be here. And people say oh, that’s that’s a loser mentality. I’m like, you don’t get what they went through to get there. They have the right to say that.



Yeah, that’s pretty normal, the way it’s working these days. And that’s why that resiliency is being able to deal with all that stress. And yeah, it’s difficult. And it’s not just the stress and trying to win at the end of the actual race.


Trevor Connor  28:20

Let’s get back to our conversation with Dr. Bucky about ego and task oriented athletes. So this is a kind of fun, just a little tangent here. But back in the my early days of racing before the Garmin era, when you didn’t have too much information on a computer display, everybody would show up to races with something taped to their handlebars. And some would show up with details about the course you know, you’re there’s gonna be a climate this mile, there’s feed zone at this mile, you know all the information they need to know to execute the course correctly. Other people would just show up with other riders numbers, because that’s all they cared about was who they are racing. So even there, you see that some people being more task oriented and some people being much more ego oriented.



Exactly, yep. Fun tangent. Either one of them is distracting, which is good. But it and I guess that just goes to show that you use these tools that we’re talking about, but you have to personalize them based on your athlete, if your athlete is very ego oriented, giving them all the testimony and instruction isn’t gonna matter because all they care about is beating that guy. So use use their, their dominant feature to your advantage and help them program that way. So this is


Trevor Connor  29:29

kind of a fun coincidence. When I was reading that study last night and getting ready for this podcast, it happened that Chris and I did an interview with the pro writer named step coos, we are talking to him about how he’s gone through the different levels. And this is a guy who’s what 24 now. So three years ago in 2015, he was doing his first crit in a collegiate race, I mean no idea how to how to race. Within a year and a half. He was winning the top races in North America and now he’s racing pro tour over in Europe. So obviously been quite successful and very rapidly. Yes. And we talked to him about how he’s gotten through these levels and handled it. He made comments like, I don’t get why people are so focused on results. And he said, you know, it’s kind of easy for me because I have a role I have a job to do. And I just do my job. And we say, do you know does it ever get to you mentally and goes? Only my training because I have goals in my training? And if I don’t accomplish those goals, that bugs me. So it seems like yesterday, we were talking to somebody who’s been very successful, and he seems to be the extreme of this task orientation.



Absolutely. And unfortunately, if you think about it, that’s the purest kind of kind of athlete that you, you do it to improve yourself. I think that’s what sports are about. But I think unfortunately, and here’s my in my little, my little like a soapbox. Sports. Take that away a little bit. Because often we don’t care whether up yard. We care whether you won. Even when we asked, you know we have somebody on how’d you do today? Their answer isn’t IPR. It’s I won, or I got third. So we make everything in sport about ego. Even though you’re the athlete, you just mentioned that the cyclist just mentioned that That to me is my dream athlete. Because that person is going to be easy to motivate, all you have to do is set that person up or with these are your your your task goals. These are the kind of things you need to focus on for yourself. And honestly, that that’s all you can really do. You can only write your best for you. And then if the results happen, they happen. So I love his approach. I wish I wish a lot of people had that approach.


Trevor Connor  31:41

Check out Episode 53, which was two episodes ago if you really want to get a sense of how Sep thinks and trains. But here’s a conversation with the lotto annelle yumbo rider, and this year’s winner of the tour of Utah about the good and bad side of a winning oriented mindset.



Yeah, certainly, I think it can go both ways. You can even go into a race where you say oh, I’m best guy here and I win this race. Then you get overexcited and end up losing it because you’re so set on winning the race and what does that do simply stupid attacking too early or, or discounting somebody that’s up the road or something like that? So I think Yeah, even even from if even if your dominant mindset is a is a winning mindset. You have to think, okay, let’s stay cool. Let’s Let’s act like I don’t care that much. What some other people think that maybe it’s not, today’s not my day. Just mental mental games that you play with yourself and other people where you’re not just fully focused on following every attack because you want to win so bad just waiting for your your moment. Because if you’re confident, that should be your your dominant, your dominant thought rather than just winning


Trevor Connor  33:00

Toronto, do you take time during races to monitor what you’re thinking and sometimes correct it or in a race?



It’s hard to say in the heat of the moment? No,


Trevor Connor  33:11

fair enough. Because Yeah, I’m



guilty of all those things. But uh, yeah, I think when you when you think back on on a race and what your mindset was in it, you can try something different next time.


Trevor Connor  33:26

Let’s get back to Dr. Bucky who has another good point about talk control, not letting others get into your head.



I was a baseball catcher cover you know this for I was baseball catcher all the way through my high school college career and I part of what I do as a baseball catcher, that that makes me a little bit, I guess, more effective for my team is you try and get inside the batter’s heads a little bit. So a little bit of trash talking a little bit of, we’ll call it sportsmanlike and we’ll call it the I don’t know what were your trash talking is probably the best way to


Chris Case  33:56

be honest. Yep.



My job is to get inside your head and to clog up the funnel. Because if I can distract them even for even for a minute, even for a you know, a millisecond and a baseball pitch that’s gonna that’s going to be long enough to have them not hit the ball solidly or even missing. So we’ve got to be able to control what’s in our funnel. Mind Dan would be another mind game is a great great way to put it. So gamesmanship is a is a polite way to talk about it. The trash talking is really what it is. In the end.


Trevor Connor  34:27

I vaguely remember you telling a story about getting on a bus after a meet or something new you were had just been starting out and basically you you hadn’t been the best Catcher in terms of ability at the time. But you were a



girl. That’s still the case. So yeah, I was never the best catcher but, but we were a great smack


Trevor Connor  34:47

talker and suddenly your coach was like that great job.



Yep, yep, yep. Bit whatever is best for the team. So


Trevor Connor  34:57

I have to remember this as I’m getting slower and slower and Gonna have to get better about my smack talk and the racist.



Exactly. Send them out.


Trevor Connor  35:06

I can pull it off when I’m in a race sitting on the wheel of some kid me like I’m


Chris Case  35:10

50 Yeah, I’m holding my age card for sure. Like what is wrong with you? I could be your dad and I feeding you.


Chris Case  35:28

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Trevor Connor  36:12

There’s a couple other studies that I will post on the website, I want to go too deep into them. Because, you know, I think Dr. Buck his knowledge is going to be far beyond my quoting a few studies. But one thing I did find one, if you’re for our listeners that are really interested, there was a thought control study using Bradley Wiggins, our record attempt that was quite fascinating. But all these studies did have kind of that common theme of when you are controlling your thoughts and keeping them more task oriented, you tend to perform better. So there was also a a one that was with tennis players where they use trigger words to help them perform the right action and stay focused. And they said when the trigger words were focused on the task, they did well. Or however when the trigger words were focused more internally on themselves, it didn’t help them as much.



If you think about it, though, what you just mentioned was kind of interesting, because you’re mentioning tennis, and and we’re going to compare that to golf. Tennis is a sport where 100% of the time you have to be in the moment, because you’re constantly reacting to your environment. So your thought your funnel is completely taken up by what is my opponent doing and what do I need to do next. So if you allow yourself to think about dinner, or the fight you had with your significant other or you know how your feet feel, you’re done, because you bet the wrong stuff is in your funnel. Cycling is much more complex than that. And I certainly don’t mean to downgrade tennis style. But cycling allows you sometimes to let your mind wander when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. And there’s no strategy going on and you’re just riding along just trying to push a little bit. You don’t need to be thinking about cycling, your brain is allowed to wander, which is actually worse. Because then you need to be able to put in there something that’s not going to bring anxiety into the equation, something that’s not going to make you worry or make you upset, you’ve got to control the randomness that your brain is allowing you to get through. Maybe it maybe that’s a little bit different on a technical course, or on a sprint. But no one can maintain focus on 100. That’s why tennis players, they play a point, they stop, they take a break, then they play another point and then they stop and then they play come with and then they do a switch over. So there’s there’s a constant mental relief. Because when you’re playing, you have to be on point. Right? So again, cyclists and I think that one of the big important things is make sure you control when you don’t need to be on point.


Trevor Connor  38:45

Right? That makes sense. Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the reasons if you watch a race like the Tour de France, sometimes the biggest crashes are when Nothing’s going on the race and they’re on a flat boring road. It’s because it starts to wander, and you run into the guy next to you and you’re on the pavement.


Chris Case  39:00

Yeah, you relax. I mean, didn’t touch wheels. And there you go cascade effect of 30 guys going down?



Yep. And it’s because all those guys were just in that let your mind wander a little bit idea.


Chris Case  39:13

So let’s switch over to the tactics that people can employ the skills necessary to control their thoughts in the most positive way during during races. Dr. Bucky? What are your thoughts?



They’re kind of all over the place. And I’m enjoying what my mind is doing as we’re, as we’re switching topics and figuring out where we’re going, what we’re going to bring up next. So I think you can look at this a couple different ways. And Jerry, you and I were talking about this before the podcast started that it kind of depends on whether you know the course well or not. If it’s if it’s a crit it’s just the same thing over and over again, if it’s a road race that you you know the course you can kind of plan on when you’re going to have those those those mental breaks that to allow yourself you mind to wander live. And if you’re able to do that, then part of your pre RACE planning would probably should probably have some to do with. Well, when I’m doing when I’m here, this is what I’m gonna allow myself to think about. I know when I’m out, I no longer write I like to, I don’t wear headphones, obviously, what I like to think about songs. And I know if I’m going down, whichever you’re familiar with for content, if I’m going over doing the big inhale or the, you know, the damn loop, then there’s this song coming up. And I have this big hill to climb. And I know what songs I want to know, let those songs come into my head, because I don’t want to be thinking about the fact I’m writing right now. Because it’s not, I want to distract myself with something that I enjoy better. So I listen to songs getting ready for my ride that I know I’m gonna bring in and have in my head while I’m writing. So we can pre plan some of those, those distracting thoughts and we can let ourselves have on the other side of the equation is if you’re riding a route that you don’t know, then you kind of have to stay in the moment a little bit more, because maybe you have this, this tight turn coming up that you’re not ready for but you’re not you can’t allow yourself to escape. That’s a much more dangerous situation. Because sometimes you escape anyway. Or if or if you’re writing in a group and somebody else falls off like like you were talking about earlier, Chris, somebody in the in the peloton goes down 40 people go down, because they were all sort of letting the mind wander a little bit. in that kind of situation, you kind of have to toe the line between focusing on what’s going on. And giving your mind breaks that are really nice.


Trevor Connor  41:35

Yeah, so actually going with Fort Collins studies or stories. My very first ride in Fort Collins, I went over risk Canyon, and you talk about needing to focus when you you don’t know the route. So I went over resonance, you know, it’s a real steep drop over the mountains. On the other side,



I wrote it, I wrote it on Saturday, it was a great ride. Fantastic.


Trevor Connor  41:54

Well, I wrote it in an afternoon, got to the other side, realize I don’t know where I’m at. So I used my Garmin to direct me back and went, Oh, it’s about two hours to get home from here. Then I looked at my Garmin what time to sunset. Oh, it sets in 40 minutes. I had a very nerve wracking ride home, my first ride at Fort Collins, there there is when you don’t know the route, it’s important to make sure you’re paying a little attention.



Let’s say it’s me unrisd Canyon, that’s a good example. Because either way you go the first half is an extreme uphill. And it’s easy. I mean, you’re not going very fast. So it’s kind of easy to let yourself lose a little bit. But on the way down, I mean, that’s a that’s a very rapid descent and you better be on your game. Or I can’t tell you how many people I know washed out on that and, you know, done the gravel and gone underneath and had some devotee, I know at least three people have been airlifted from that Canyon, because because they were being part of the town of overland heights because they were letting themselves go when they shouldn’t let themselves go.


Trevor Connor  42:51

The only time I’ve ever in this getting really more but the only time I’ve ever seen somebody die was a motorcyclist coming down roost,



exactly the same issue. I mean, they’ve obviously with a little bit more power. But if you let yourself go when you can’t, so they’re like this, it gets back to the idea that you have to know when you’re going to let yourself relax mentally. And then when you do that, you then have to control what what you allow to come in.


Chris Case  43:18

This might be a silly question, but what what purpose does relaxing the mind serve? Is there a breaking point where we can we can only focus for so much time before our mental capacities start to fade so that i i realize it might sound silly, but I’m looking for a more maybe a more complex answer from from somebody who knows the science? Well,



there’s not a there’s not a huge complex answer we we hear it a lot. And it’s total garbage. But the idea that the brain is just like any other muscle, and certainly the brain is a muscle but but the analogy works, that you can’t overwork any part of your body without giving an adequate time to rest. Most most people who are listening to this were students once I would have a feeling and just like you realize that after you’re cramming for a test for an hour, you’re not nearly as effective as you were when you started. So it’s much better. And we know that the the idea is called mass versus distributed practice. We know that practice is better when you you work hard for 2030 minutes, and then you give yourself a 10 minute break and you work hard for 2030 minutes to give yourself a 10. Maybe that’s a much more effective training mechanism, both physically and mentally than working straight through the repetition that we just need time to recharge. That’s why sleep is so beneficial. We’re in finals week right now here at CSU and I know a whole bunch of dudes who I didn’t sleep at all, I think that’s just dumb. Because your brain didn’t get time to reset itself in Europe. I would actually recommend sleeping rather than studying sometimes because your brain is going to feel refreshed and if you learned it once it’s going to come back much easier then than if you just read it through four or five times overnight. So allow yourself to recharge and like a tennis match library Talking about when you constantly have to be on, on on point. That’s why they have so many tiny little breaks, we’ll call them micro breaks in between points. In a race, if you had to be completely strategic, and you know watching, everything is going on for four or five hours, no one would be good at that. Because you’d have to be both on point physically and mentally. And I don’t know anybody that’s got that skill set. So you’ve got to be able to plan and allow for yourself to take the the mental breaks, just like the physical breaks.


Chris Case  45:28

Do you ever suggest to people in this maybe this is a silly question to that they practice as a mantra or something some very specific sought to get them through?



Absolutely. One of the things that when I was reading, preparing for this, we talked a little bit about in golf right now most of my work is with golfers. In golf, we do a pre shot routine, which basically when you when you address the ball, you have one swing thought and that keeps your brain exactly where it is, you know, you don’t thinking about the trees or the woods or slicing or anything like that you keeping mine is my elbow, my elbow tend to fly when I when I play golf, like yeah, my my mantra is elbow in, follow through. So that is my my one thought my mantra during golf and it keeps my swing much more consistent. If I’m if I’m working on cycling, my mantra is usually a song or a lyric from a song, but something that allows me to keep my cadence. When I want to ride whatever pace I want to ride, whatever cadence I want to write. But a mantra could be push a mantra, it could be points, it could be top, a word that you allow to go through your head. But basically what you’re doing is distracting. Again, you’re clogging your funnel, you’re not allowing the boy My legs hurt, this is a grind, I am I gonna make it you’re not allowing those things into your head, you’re just focusing on this one thing that puts you in the right place. And sometimes again, that can be motivating. Sometimes it can just be distracting. But you’re keeping the junk out of your funnel.


Trevor Connor  46:58

That’s interesting, because when I was more focused on time trial, and I used to actually keep taped to the stem of my handlebars forward, first was heart rate, then cadence, then breathing, and then hips. And these were This was my checklist. And I would just spend the entire time trial going through this checklist going is my heart rate where I want it to be, is my cadence where I want it to be in my breathing, right? Am I breathing deeply or my soft, shallow breathing and my hips rotated correctly?



Jeremy Did you have obviously have a cycle computer on there? How much of that information was given back to you?


Trevor Connor  47:34

I as I got better at time trialing, I



actually started using less and less data, I got my computer down to a screen that was just heartbreaking cadence. Good, which, which I love because if it’s right in front of you, it’s it’s easier information to get. So it doesn’t it doesn’t clog up your funnel very much. But if you have to go through and I mean, like so your cadence, you have to think about it again, that takes up space. And I like that. I think our technology in this aspect, the more stuff you have on your computer, whether you have your cadence or your speed or what your heart rate, I think that actually hurts us in this case it is it. I guess it’s more of a distraction sometimes.


Chris Case  48:09

But it doesn’t distract us enough from the task from the pain, if you’re, if you’re racking. So



well said,


Chris Case  48:16

if you’re actually having to go through the process of saying, Okay, my cadence is good, I’m spinning really well, okay, my hips are rotated, you know, if you just have a number that immediately tells you, you’re good, or you’re bad, it’s too quick, if there’s a process involved, I think that that serves to distract you in a better way.



And I like Trevor’s idea of his tape, especially against something like pips on there, because no, no readout is going to tell you how your hips are doing, you’ve got to actually go through and do a quick self check, which again, take time, I equate that exactly to what I was talking about with the golf thing that it keeps my focus on my elbow, so my elbow doesn’t fly during my swing, nobody can measure that, I can see that I just I just need to kind of feel it and think about it, which which keeps your mind involved. And golf, obviously, your swing takes less than a second. So you really only have to stay focused for a second, likely you’re talking much, much more time. So Cycling is a little bit more, I guess, mentally exhausting than golf can be.


Chris Case  49:14

And I think this this, this checklist nature of distracting yourself is really great. And Trevor mentioned how he did it in the time trials. Now that he’s he’s involved in coaching me for an event that’s coming up for me, he’ll give me interval sessions and I will do something similar where I’ll write down the specifics of that interval session. And that is essentially that checklist that is in front of me and I can go through that and that can be used to distract myself from the pain that I’m feeling throughout the interval session and focus just on simpler things, whether it’s cadence, heart rate, power, etc. And you’ll see that in professional racing a lot is slightly different, but guys will often put on their top tubes, whether it’s The profile or the length of climbs and gradients and things like that. So they have this not only it’s a it’s a little like an instruction manual for the day, but it also serves as a checklist of things. Okay, I’m done with that. Forget it. Okay, I’m done with that check, forget it. And they can move through that. And especially if you’re task oriented, I think that’s really helpful.



Yeah, well, you you,



you hit a nail twice on that when I think first of all, because you you’ve got this checklist, you’re allowing your brain to go through the system. So it doesn’t become you know, overwhelmed by one thing. But you’re also checking off the excesses, which is going to give you a lot more and more with, hey, I’m doing something that was something. So you’re, you’re rewarding yourself, you’re experiencing success, which is gonna put you in a positive mood, which is going to bring, you know more and more positive thoughts in there and not let the negatives or than the pain overwhelm. So I like that idea on two different aspects. Again, if it’s a positive thing, and it keeps your brain busy in a good way. Now, there’s


Trevor Connor  50:55

another element to this in cycling, that there are points in the race where it is really gonna hurt. And your body is going to be doing everything possible to tell you to stop. And it seems like at those moments thought control is really important, too. As we talked, we’ve touched on briefly before these withdrawal thoughts telling you to stop pull out. So how does stock control come into those situations? Well,



we’re talking about there’s almost a micro burnout idea. And when we talk about burnout, and when most of us experience burnout, in exercise, or in sport, or even in our careers where we’re honestly, we just stopped caring, we’re emotionally and we’re physically exhausted, and we’re not getting the rewards we were looking for. So we we just stop. And we and not only do we stop, but we we stopped caring. So that’s what we call a sort of a long term burnout. But that can happen at a micro level to that inner race, if you’re not getting the rewards that you thought you were getting. If you’re, you’re getting tired, you’re not allowing yourself to to, I guess we cover, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night, then it’s easy for you to become burnout. And you the only way to cure a burnout is to take a break. If you’re burned out at work, you need a summer vacation, if you’re burned out at school, again, summer vacation, if you’re burned out as a cyclist, you take a little bit of time away, and you re up develop the love, you miss it. And then you want to come back. But when you’re burned out, you don’t miss it, you just want to be done. So how do we avoid again, how do we avoid burnout, we give ourselves adequate rest, both mentally and physically, we make sure that we’re achieving rewards. And if we’re, again, getting back to the task, ego thing, if we’re ego oriented, we got to make sure we’re getting some competition awards. If we’re task oriented, we’ve got to make sure that we’re meeting some of our personal goals. But the rewards and rest, in my opinion, are the solution to preventing and then recovering from burnout.


Trevor Connor  52:58

So let’s take a specific situation. So you’re in a race, you’ve just hit a 15 minute climb that’s going to decide the whole race. So in this scenario, you are strong enough to be one of the people to get over the top of that climb in the lead, but it is going to hurt. How do you push yourself through that when your body has to do this again,



if you answer that with the reward versus resting, you realize that it’s going to take me 15 minutes to go just absolute work to get this done. But I’m going to reward myself, first of all, by the fact that I’m going to get it done, I’m gonna I’m gonna get points. And then once I get over there, then I can rest a little bit, I can, I can allow myself to fall back a little bit, maybe get pulled along for low well instead of leading. And if I get these points, that is my goal, then I’ll rest and then maybe I’ll get up for the next one. But for now, I’m going to make this my complete focus and give this everything I have reward myself later.


Trevor Connor  53:56

So that that study about Bradley Wiggins and the who’s our record, they talked about distraction and said, it actually needs to be the right type of distraction. Basically, if you’re in this hard time trial, and you’re looking around going, Oh, look at the pretty trees, you’re not focusing on your pace, and you’re going to slow down so you actually won’t perform well. So what they talked about in the study is exactly what we’re talking about right now, which is using task oriented distraction, focus on on the task at hand, it keeps you away from the pain. And they said they said the study if you sit there and focus on the pain, it just gets it hurts more. So it’s focusing on complicating the task.



But with that said, your focus has to have some variety in it. You can’t simply focus on your hips for an hour. Plan your distraction. So and if you want to use technology you can if you want to use you know some team I assume Wiggins had a headset in and he was he was being taught to the whole time by somebody no it’s actually not


Trevor Connor  54:56

ours do the record dear they you’re not knitted in The amount of data you’re allowed to have,



then I think what I would do in that kind of situation is I would I would use whatever I was allowed to use to plan at 20 minutes, get a drink at 30 minutes, check your feet. But give yourself something to let your mind go through. That’s not the same thing over and over, it can certainly all be cycling oriented, and can certainly be, you know, focused on the past, but then the different things because even if your brain isn’t resting, it’s getting some variety. And variety is what is what’s gonna help you refresh your brain.


Trevor Connor  55:31

That’s really interesting, because that’s exactly what he did. He broke the race into 12 minute segments. And the focuses were very different. So early on, when it wasn’t hurting as much. They said he was much more situationally or they called it reactive cognitive control focus. So he was actually being more aware of how am I feeling, how much is hurting, how are my legs doing, focusing on those sorts of things less on distraction, because it wasn’t hurting that much anymore, right? In the later parts, when he was really starting to hurt, it was much more using cognitive techniques to distract. So one of the things he really did, he had a way of timing, his cadence for the curves and the straightaways, and really, really focused on his cadence, because that allowed him to keep his pace up, but keep his brain away from the Wow, this is hurting now.



So if you think about it, get back to that funnel idea. The first 12 minutes, pain wasn’t really a worry. So he knew pain wasn’t going to be what was taking over that funnel. So he allowed his funnel to be whatever. So you use the word reactive cognitive, he was allowed to be reactive, because he wasn’t afraid of what was going to be causing that funnel. later on. He knew that the pain would be the big part of that or the discomfort or whatever Do you want to use there? So he planned how he was going to keep the pain out of that funnel. Right, exactly. And I think that’s I think that’s a fantastic idea.


Trevor Connor  56:56

Colby Pierce, the top coach here in Colorado also has a lot of experience with thought control in the our record. He’s getting to be a regular on our podcast, we never know where the conversation is going to go. But it’s always fun. We talked with him about positive versus negative dominant thoughts controlling the funnel when you’re hurting, and cows always do this thing with my athletes where I get them to close their eyes and then try not to picture a pink elephant. Right? Right. Right, the thing being course you’re gonna picture a pink elephant, whatever right? is dominating your thought. That’s where you’re gonna go. And that’s gonna


Chris Case  57:27

be good. You’ve got some good thoughts on this one, don’t you?





Trevor Connor  57:30

So there we go. Where do you want to go with this? But basically, what are what are techniques that you use or your athletes use to control thought? Right to make sure they’re thinking the right way?


Colby Pearce  57:42

Right? Yeah, big topic. Um, like any problem, the first step is recognizing that you have a problem, and you have to educate your athlete about the fact that they probably have these dark clouds floating through their heads all the time. Most humans do doesn’t make you a bad person. They’re just clouds. So the first step is to just look at the clouds and say, okay, they’re, they’re these dark clouds, or they can be negative thoughts in any number of forms. It can be, did I prepare enough for, or it can just be something it doesn’t have to be even personal can just be a negative thought, like, Oh, I don’t like the way that guy’s shirt fits, or those are just negative thoughts. And and when you consume yourself with negative thoughts, when you fill your brain with negative thoughts, and allow them to just sit there, your energy levels just will slowly go down, right? We don’t want that we want strong, positive, radiant energy. That’s what all athletes want, as well, humans want. That’s what that’s the basis of health. So you want to take out those negative thoughts, whether they’re about yourself or someone else, and replace them with positive thoughts. happy thoughts. Pretty simple, right? I mean, this is hippie dippie stuff, but it’s true. There’s a lot of science behind this. I’d be happy to dig some up if we want. But I don’t have any at the moment. I just know it’s there. It is there. Absolutely. And and so what does this relate to that one of the conversations I like to have my athletes is is about something called the Primal Fear, right? And it’s the fear that all humans really share on some level. And it can take different forms when you kind of distill it and boil it down. It’s the same basic fear which is I am not enough. I’m not fast enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good looking enough. I’m not tall enough. I’m not short enough. Skinny enough. muscley enough, whatever. And all humans sort of share this fear and when we’re at our worst we embrace that fear. And we magnify that fear we feed that fear right? It’s like that old story about the two wolves that are fighting right one wolf represents all the negative emotions fear and anger and jealousy and and rage and and embarrassment and all those things and then the other wolf represents love and harmony and purity and good intent. And the two bulls are fighting right and the story is like a grandson near the grandpa’s telling the grandson about these walls and the grandsons listening to the two walls. And fighting, he says Grandpa, which wolf will win. And the Grandpa, of course, says whichever one you feed, so you have to feed your good Wolf, right? You have to feed these positive thoughts constantly. It’s a it’s a make it, fake it till you make it kind of scenario. But that’s the literally the way that people who embrace this mindset operate, and it actually changes their, their mind on a physical level, there is science to support this as well. So first, you have to tell your athlete, you kinda have to explain this paradigm to athletes, because many people are unaware that this sort of, they just go about their day thinking their thoughts, and they assume that everybody’s grumpy. And that’s the way it works, or that people have grumpy moments and happy moments, but you can control your thoughts, and you should learn to control your thoughts. And then of course, the other aspect. The other part of that is to baseline it and clear out the trash. And that involves meditation. That’s the simplest way. And once you develop a practice meditation that’s somewhat regular, then you can kind of dip into that, well, that moment of inner peace or inner quiet whenever you need to. And that becomes a powerful tool, because we all get off center once in a while, we all have life events that happen, where we walk around a corner, and something really unexpected and negative happens, whatever that is, is running into an ex girlfriend or boyfriend or seeing a car accident or seeing something much more tragic, right? These things happen. or learning. Here’s some really bad news. And how do you react that news and a stronger your well have that positive energy isn’t that stability, that peace calm is inside you, the more stable you are, and the less likely it is to knock you off balance.


Trevor Connor  1:01:31

Let’s take a real specific example. Younger listeners, so


Colby Pearce  1:01:35

the common one flat tire in a bike race,


Trevor Connor  1:01:38

but that just sucks. You’re in the bike race, and the thought that’s going you might be aware of it or not. But the thought that’s going through your head is I’m going to get dropped, I’m going to get dropped right to get dropped. And in my experiences as soon as that thought is going through your head. Guess what’s gonna happen? Yes.


Trevor Connor  1:01:53

So how do you a recognize it right? And be changed that dialogue.


Colby Pearce  1:01:59

So an even simpler analogous thought is, is people say this, especially when you’re learning how to mountain bike, it’s like, you come down the trail, there’s a giant rock in the middle of the trail. And if you look at that rock, you’re gonna ride right into that rock, rock magnet, rock magnet, same exact concept. Um, it goes back to fake it till you make it to a degree. And some of that may seem inauthentic to some writers. But there is science to back up that if you just relentlessly rehearse positive things in your head, eventually your perspective will change. And that can be as simple as I think I can stay on this wheel. I think I can I think I can. It can be as simple as focusing on external goals that you know are controllable. Like, it’s only one and a half k to the summit. Yeah, right. And that comes down to a glass perspective, glass half full glass half empty. I mean, we all know that it can have half when you are at the limit can be eternity, right, especially on a steep climb. And that can be three, four or five minutes depending on how steep it is. Mogi on the Hilo is perfect example. Just this never ends and they cruelly they never moved that one kilometer to go sign. It’s like a five minute K or something. So you just have to look at it. Say it’s only one K to go. I can do anything for one kilometer. Right? I can do anything.


Chris Case  1:03:12

I was gonna bring in the example of during your our record. Did you break it into? Yes. bite sized pieces so to speak. Right?


Colby Pearce  1:03:20

Yeah. So the journey of 1000 miles begins with one single step, right? I did. Yeah, definitely. I mean, I had Jonathan there. And his girlfriend at the time, Carrie, they were there helping me and holding up lap cards and telling me my splits. And they knew so I knew my exact differential to fraud. JOHN Fry’s pace, he was the previous record holder. And I have to say that our record was, mentally I was always one step ahead, because I was ahead of fry from a very early phase. And once you see that gap, even if it’s only three seconds, and and, of course, I have to be in a place that’s sustainable, but I was. So those two variables together, that’s all that matters, right? And so in that part, I broke it down to a degree but really, it was relentless fixation on that gap for me in that instance. But there are other times when you have to, you have to break it down and say, okay, great example is one year at the Breck epic. And the final stage, I sort of did a play attack on the last stage coming back towards town over boreas Pass. And when you get to the far point of that course, you’re quite a ways down, Boris, I think it’s probably a 30 minute climb back up that path. And it’s just like a 4%, Colorado dirt road. And there is nothing glorious about that at all. It’s just hard work. And I did a little jump on a roller and the guys didn’t react. I went well. Okay, this is it. And I threw down and went into time trial mode. And in that moment, man was I groveling, just breathing out of every cell in my body to try to make it over that capacity as much time as possible because I knew that Travis brown and Jeremiah Bishop are chasing me on the descent to the line. So I needed every second have to spare, right, because these guys are clearly better bike handlers than I am. So I needed to maximize my ability to climb that pass as fast as possible, give myself the biggest buffer and I do did a thing where I broke it down into I said from and so the climb kind of kind of weaves kind of contours along the mountain. So you kind of have these points where you can see the road for maybe 3040 seconds, maybe a minute, and then it dips away, you can’t see it, and then you can see it again. And I would say to that corner right there, I’m just gonna go as hard as I frickin can. And I would just stare at that tree. And it was power meter tree, power meter tree power meter tree. That was it. Just, that was the deal. It’s like a internal handshake. And I got to that corner and I went, and then I could see the next stretch of road and I said, Okay, now to there to that corner. I’m gonna go as hard as I freakin can. And I clawed my way up that mountain that way, I just broke it down into maybe six chunks of corners, hung on for dear life, it was not pretty, you know, there are moments when you can open the throttle wide and you Whatever, whatever reason you have grace that day was not one of those days, but I did manage to win the stage barely, almost took myself out on the descent barely managed to hang on for dear life.


Trevor Connor  1:05:52

So you know that I tell my athletes as much of time travelers might tell me I’m full of it. But when you hear about time trailers, breaking a time trial into segments, yep. Everybody’s Well, they’re trying to do some sort of reverse whatever they do. They’ve got a plan for each one. I’m like, no, they’re just trying to make it manageable. Yeah. Because if you’re doing a 40 k Time Trial long, and you’re one minute in, you’re already hurting again. Cool. I’ve got another 50. Right. Whatever minutes.


Colby Pearce  1:06:19

Yes. Depending on the course in a fast you are Yeah,


Trevor Connor  1:06:21

right. That’s going to take you mentally bad places. You said just think let’s just deal with the first 10 minutes settle rhythm, manage


Colby Pearce  1:06:27

rhythm. Yep. And, you know, classic paradigm in the US is 40 Ks got a 20 k turnaround. So you’re working towards a turnaround deal with the second half later. It’s a bridge, we’ll get to some point. Right now. I’m just gonna get that turnaround as fast as I can. Yeah, it’s a it’s interesting there rides where I have been completely consumed with the pain. And the best way for me to feel like I could deal with it was to look directly at it. Yes. And there are other days where it’s sort of like this thing in the background. And I swear, there are times where I’ve been doing like complex math, not on purpose. It just happens, which is bizarre, but I’ll start to see equations and things. I don’t know what’s going on. There



is no explanation.



As long as it’s getting somewhere as long as give me somewhere


Colby Pearce  1:07:09

I remember being good time for I don’t recall which one exactly was there high place. But


Trevor Connor  1:07:13

yeah, my trick is I just simply I turn pain into a metric. It’s like looking at power. It’s like looking at heart rate, I just constantly go, okay, what’s the level of the pain? Right?


Colby Pearce  1:07:21

I’m at a 9.7 out of 10. Or Yep,


Trevor Connor  1:07:23

yeah, but almost, you do that. And emotionally. It’s just another metric. Yes. And when you start killing yourself, pain is just another metric somehow becomes more manageable. Yeah.


Colby Pearce  1:07:34

I one trick that I’ve given myself over the years, or not really trick, but perspective, I would say and I’ve shared this with some of my athletes has been to view pain as simply another distraction. The goal is to go as fast as you can. That’s the focus, speed,





Colby Pearce  1:07:52

as well as cows, cars, wind, cold, heat, thirst, discomfort, all those things are just distractions from the thing I’m trying to do, which is go to the finish line as fast as possible. And that was brought home by us on an interview with Taylor Finney a couple years ago, we talked about the fact that he doesn’t use power on a TT bike anymore. He just looks at speed, which I thought was fascinating. I haven’t tried that myself yet. But so instead, it was just cadence. Just cadence. Yeah,


Trevor Connor  1:08:17

yeah. And I’m glad you brought up cows, because that has become a major issue. And one of these days we’re gonna address that in this podcast.


Colby Pearce  1:08:24

Yeah. cows and deer in the Front Range distractions, search deer an issue. Deer. Yes, cows, distracting cows. Yes, demos, cows.


Trevor Connor  1:08:37

Now that you’ve heard, call these tips, let’s finish up with a few tips of our own.


Chris Case  1:08:40

So Dr. Bucky, maybe you could just give us a few tips on how to control those those thoughts.



I think the pre planning as much as you can. And I think the idea of I think you use some good terms, the the reactive cognition versus the proactive cognition. I think the reactive comes pretty naturally. But the proactive is the one we have to we have to prepare for.


Chris Case  1:09:03

Can you go into a little bit more detail about that?



I think the best way to think about it is, well, as you get better as a writer, you learn yourself. And you know, as you think through the last race you did, or the last time you were on this course, you remember, when you struggled, at least mentally or physically either one. And I think we prepare for that, oh, this one’s got a lot of hills. So I have to be you have to be on the hill game. Or this one’s got some pretty good defense or that I remember this one, I let my mind go in the middle. And that’s where it’s awesome some times wherever. But as we know, this the course better we can plan for the times when we know we’re gonna have some mental issues. So again, Trevor, I like your idea of bar tape on this one. Put yourself down the bar tape that when you hit this spot, whether it’s this bond that you’re driving by or this lap that you’re going through where you get past the speed zone and you realize you’re going to be you know, you’re gonna have 20 minutes or nothing. Give yourself a keyword. Well, this I want to think about that song or this is the time I want you to think about, you know, the next race or, which is usually a bad idea. But again, we’re just looking to distract ourselves with positive stuff. So pre plan, again, your distractions,



if you can,


Chris Case  1:10:13

we haven’t talked about digitalization, I don’t know if we want to set gets us into a completely different realm or,



I mean, it’s a tool, it’s a, it’s a practice that we can use for just about anything, I think, in terms of what we’ve been talking about, we could use visualization, as a distraction, it’s almost an escape kind of an idea. If you allow yourself to clog your funnel with remember that time I was on that beach, or remember that time even better remember that time that I got that podium, and that that felt so we can use the the visualization to take ourselves into, really wherever we want to take ourselves that in itself, we could go on for an entire podcast or three, about about the benefits of visualization how we use it. But I think in terms of this one, we’re just gonna allow ourselves to to go wherever we need to go, if you’re super stressed, visualize somewhere a little bit more relaxed. The problem with that, though, is that I like to use the term on my cost that our brain is actually pretty stupid. And what I mean by that is, if we think about being relaxed, then that information travels down from our brain to our body, and our body relaxes a little bit. And if we’re, if we have to keep up a certain cadence, or we have to keep our muscle going a certain rate, then that’s going to slow us down. So maybe that’s not what we want to do. But so maybe we want to visualize being on a roller coaster, or we want to visualize something else that’s exciting, to keep ourselves to give ourselves, it’s still an escape, but it’s not a physically debilitating escaping. I use visualization, it’s probably the tool I use most when I’m working with my athletes, because it’s a timely, it’s the Wonder tool. And we can we can use it to get just about anything. Wow.


Trevor Connor  1:12:11

Sounds like that’s a that’s an episode to come.


Chris Case  1:12:13

That’s Yeah.


Trevor Connor  1:12:15

Should we do our one minute?


Chris Case  1:12:17

Yeah, this is where we just sort of, you know, you can probably think back to the whole conversation and pull out the best of your advice for for listeners out there. We’ll give you one minute, and you’re on the clock. Dr. Bucky? What do you got? I



have to go first gene. One of the things I think really good athletes, especially really good cyclists, is the idea of our pre shot routine. And we talked about this a little bit earlier, I think in our pre shot routine. But what that means is we have to understand that we’re in control of our brain. And we can make it go where we want it to go. So that we can use our pre shot, it’s a golf term, to put ourselves in the right mindset to make our brain ready for what’s about to happen, we can do the same thing in cycling, except that the terminology doesn’t make any sense anymore. So we’ll just call it pre programming. And as long as we know where we want to be, whether that’s excited or relaxed or distracted or focused, we can take our brain there, by using a couple of suggestions will mode we call that self talk, whether we call that focus words, we can keep ourselves exactly where we want to be and keep our brain, our brain in the game just like it needs to be



great chair,


Trevor Connor  1:13:39

I guess the The take home I want to give is that I found fascinating this whole idea of the the ego orientation versus the the task orientation. And it’s really important to know which one you are and also know the dangers of each particularly without ego orientation, that can lead to self conscious thoughts. And that can lead to thoughts of wanting to pull out the event. So figure out ways to first know your type, and then how to take advantage of it as opposed to letting it become your weakness at the hard points in the race.


Chris Case  1:14:11

Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s kind of exactly what I was going to say. Figure out who you are, what type of person you are, so that you can give yourself the sort of the rewards that work best for you. I completely concur that the brain our brains are pretty stupid. And Prince can be can be pretty simple. So you can take advantage of that fact, if you’re really task oriented. get detailed about those tasks, give yourselves a lot of rewards, because you can just go through the list and check them off. And I think focusing on that process. This is something that Sep coos who we mentioned earlier, he’s extremely good at focusing on the process and not the end result. And the process is all about tasks. So if you’re that type of person, stick with that and if you’re not that type of person, you To figure out those rewards that work for you, but that also don’t lead you down the wrong way of getting more prone to dropping out of a race or, or giving up in a sense. So



I think that just to follow that up, I think it’s important to understand what we often talk about sports psychology and we say things like, elite performance is 90% in your head. And while I don’t agree with that, because I think I’m a better elite performer in my head and and Trevor is but he’s gonna kick my ass and he says he physically gifted. But I think that I think the take home from that is we spend a tremendous amount of time physically practicing. We don’t spend nearly as much time mentally practicing and mentally preparing. And I think honestly, that’s what’s that’s the truly elite athletes out from just the gifted athletes who don’t really don’t really perform up to their ability is the fact that the elite than the really gifted ones, spend the time do the mental practice and and i think that’s preparation and that’s knowing your tools and knowing knowing what you need and when.


Trevor Connor  1:16:06

That’s that’s a great place to end it. So thank you. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk@velonews.com Subscribe to Fast Talk in iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. While you’re there, check out our sister podcast the velonews podcast which covers news about the week and cycling become a fan of Fast Talk and Facebook and facebook.com slash velonews and on twitter@twitter.com slash velonews. That stock is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching the thoughts and opinions expressed in Fast Talker those are the individual for Dr. Brian Bucky, Sep coos Colby piers, Dean goldrich and Chris case, I’m Trevor Connor. Thanks for listening.