Take a look at the film above about why being outside is good for you..
See below for my Hints, Tips and Advice
Over the 10 years of helping people with mountain biking I find myself saying the same things to my riders. Although the words are the same they mean very different things to each person and how they can use those words into their own world of mtbing, life’s challenges, sports aspirations and most importantly their own mental health.
Here are a few of the things that I regularly tell people. Its hard to separate them as I think they all overlap one another in some way. So try to bring these thoughts to any mtb goal you may have. Don’t forget your goal is big, important and personal to YOU!!
Do not Compare Yourself to Others
One of the first things I say to people is that they should not compare themselves to others. It is a road full of little streets and dead-ends that distract you from your main road to your own goals. All these other streets and lanes are paths that lead to other peoples goals. Using people to inspire you and motivate you are two very different things. If you find yourself hearing words in your head “they are better than me” then change it to “if they can do it then I can give it a go too”
Fitness or being the fittest or fastest is not the key thing to success. I have learnt first hand through my years of Ironman training that it is actually a lot of mental strength that enables you to succeed and reach your goals, ride over those scary roots or finish that race or climb that impossible hill.
To find ways to keep going is what enables you to stay on track and to succeed. Fitness can get you so far but if you mentally give up and don’t believe in yourself then it doesn’t matter how strong or fast you are, you wont be able to keep going. I therefore also focus on mental strength training as well as fitness training as I believe they come hand in hand.
Setting Challenges/Pushing your Comfort Zone
We naturally avoid what we don’t like or are bad at and therefore we lean towards what we are good at. If you want to improve and get better we need to do the opposite. Going out of your comfort zone stretches you and when you see improvements it boost your self esteem and belief that you can do things. So keep pushing those boundaries out, as they will keep getting smaller otherwise. Also see “Bite Sizes to Achieving Your Goals”
This in turn makes you mentally stronger
Setting goals will keep you motivated. Make sure you set aside time every week where you ride and practice it is you are trying to achieve. Meeting others can help to ensure that you stick to it and help you stay motivated.
Bite Sizes to Achieving Your Goals
Whether its trying to ride further or reach the top of that massive hill you hate to climb or descending that scares the hell out of you. Don’t hide from it but face it full on and just try and tackle it one bit at a time.
If wanting to go further add just 1 or 2 more miles at the end of each ride. By the end of the month that is an extra 4 or 8 miles more of your normal amount.
If trying to climb that hill set yourself a tree as a marker to reach that is a little further each time, but if you feel ok then set another tree just a few metres ahead and keep doing this until to reach the top. Always get in the habit of stopping 10 metres past the top of the hill rather than immediately at the top. As you get stronger and fitter you will then realise that you can actually keep riding and no longer need to stop. Keep pushing yourself, it will pay off.
When confronted with a scary hill, just walk it the first time, and maybe a few times after to get familiar with it. You could maybe start at the bottom and walk up to a bit where you feel comfortable in coming down and gradually build up the hill. Or in reverse go from the top but say that you just do a few metres or break it up into rideable sections. Sometimes looking at the hill in its entirety is too scary but when you allow yourself to just to part of it it makes you relax more. If you feel comfortable then go straight into the next section.
Being Flexible and Visualise
To me mtbing and other sport disciplines means you need to find a way to bend (be flexible) when you hit a fear or challenge. Sometimes hitting a fear or challenge straight on may just mean you land straight back on the floor with the fear feeling even bigger. So you have to come up with ways that you can beat that challenge or fear. (also see bite sizes of achieving your goals).
The first thing you need to do is accept that fear or challenge and then think “OK, right, so what now”. It is absolutely fine to get off your bike and walk it. I’ve even walked things that the previous day I popped over. Sometimes it makes no sense. So just roll with it and visualise how you might be able to succeed another time that makes you feel comfortable. Going away and practicing on smaller things helps.
The “I Can Do it” Angel and The “I Can’t” Devil that whisper in your ears
We all have the demons in our heads that like to put us down and tells us we can’t do something and no good. You wouldn’t stay friends with someone who kept putting you down so don’t allow yourself to do it either.
Believe in yourself, and hang on to what you have achieved in a ride, not what you didn’t. As you would have achieved a lot more than not. So take those positive thoughts and train your brain to keep thinking positively.
These are little tips and techniques that I have found help me with my biking. I’m too embarrassed to do any videos as there are plenty of others out their who aren’t so camera shy.
- Ready Position
Level pedals that are evenly weighted. A deep bend in the knees and elbows (think of making chicken wings with your arms with a 90-degree bend.) Rear end off the seat and hips shifted back. Your back is flat and nearly parallel to the ground.
- Foot Position
Jump up and down and notice where your feet land. This should be on the front or the balls of your feet.
The balls of your feet should go over the centre bar of your pedal. This then enables you to drop your heels and have the best balance possible, which is key in biking.
Distract yourself with the nice views and other things that look nice. Some interesting tree, a bit of wildlife. Get someone to talk to you to keep you from focusing on the aching legs.
Slide you weight slightly to the front of your saddle so that there is more weight above the pedals. Stretch over to the front of your bike, tucking your elbows in and down, as if you are trying to get your chin past the handlebars. This will prevent the front wheel from popping up by spreading more of your weight to the front of your bike.
Pace yourself, save some energy for the last bit of any little obstacles that require and bit more umph to get over. Find a rhythm and with your legs push equally on the left as to the right.
First of all give yourself a break if you don’t like going down fast. It will come with practice and correct body position. If you can get down it then you have succeeded. Make sure your in the ready position and you have correct foot position with your heels down. Keep looking ahead at what is coming.
Activating your hips
Try gentle resting your finger tips on your handle bars so you are not steering. You will notice that your core is engaged and you start steering through your hips.
Look ahead. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Where you look iswhere you go. When we get scared we tend to keep looking at the thing that is scaring us, or we just keep looking down.
Things to Practice
Sand and mud, track stands, bunny hops, the first part of a manual