Sports psychology and …

The Wombat 24 is here – a mountain bike endurance race where you ride as many 18 km laps as possible over a 24 hour period.

My husband and I are entering the race as a team in the 6 + 6 category, a daylight only version of the race.

Signed up for it a while ago

Did a few practice runs.

We had a plan.

However, a spontaneous last minute decision changes that plan – I’ll do the first lap instead of Malcolm.

Given the rainy weather the track will deteriorate, so I may get out while there is still some grip left.

And, if I start last, I don’t have the stress of people trying to overtake me on the narrow track.

The strategy worked well – I was by myself for a large part of that first loop.

Freedom.

An unexpected benefit: All the space to watch emotions and thoughts as I ‘race’ through the forest.

The weather – grey and drizzly.

The glasses fogged. Couldn’t see.

Now, that wasn’t planned.

Nobody around to help.

Stopped a couple of times to clean the glasses.

Struggling – wanting to give up.

Thoughts going through my head: “I shouldn’t do that. I’m in a race”

“Want to give my best.”

Then: “what difference does it make, I’m the last anyway.”

“Might as well continue.”

“The forest is beautiful, really.”

Listening to the internal chatter I realise once again – it’s all in the mind.

Even in sports, success is in the mind.

Physical skills and speed help, but don’t make you win.

It’s the ability to face your demons.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re the last, riding in solitude through the forest, or in an olympic stadium with 10s of 1,000s spectators cheering you on.

In the end you’re alone in the race.

Competing with yourself – in your mind.

Back in the Wombat forest a shift happened.

I’d taken of the glasses altogether, seeing the track better, a bit blurred, but this didn’t matter.

Slalomed around the puddles, enjoying myself.

A song bubbled up and I started singing, hesitantly at first, then with more confidence.

Then, I faced the next challenge … the pros had done a lap already and started overtaking me.

Downs and ups until crossing the finish line – where my husband was waiting to take over.

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to experience the psychology of a sports competition.

It could be a mother’s day run, a club competition, a game of tennis.

It helps if it’s drawn out over at least an hour.

The setting doesn’t matter.

What matters is a chance to observe yourself – have the time to watch what’s really going on.

It’s a slice out of your life, where you can learn about how you respond to challenges.

I recommend you have a go.

The tell me how it went.

If this seems too hard, I’m here to help you find your strategies in overcoming challenges, whether it’s in sports, life, work or happiness.

Preeti