Squash the Fear

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I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain

– Frank Herbert, Dune 1965

Fear is an enemy. Fear can stop you from riding your best. This CX season, I plan on taking my fair share of podiums. Dispelling pre-race fear and anxiety is, in my opinion, an important part of doing well. I have raced against many people and I have beaten many people. I have beaten a good number of guys who I know are much stronger than I am. I’d argue that it’s not the fastest person who wins the race. Sure you need to be in shape, but you need to be mentally strong and that means, not afraid. Well, race season is right around the corner and here are some things that can keep you from letting fear get between you and the podium.
Get in Race Shape
Note, it says ‘race shape’. Sure you can destroy your ridding buddies on every sprint, and maybe you are the king of your LBS group ride, but are you racing against those guys or girls? Probably not. Being out of form can lead to anxiety about how you will perform in a race, and that anxiety will become fear. Stop the anxiety by getting into the best shape you can to race.
I do a couple of different things to get into race shape. It all starts with base miles in the winter months, and progresses over the year towards race season. Group training rides, intervals, heart rate training and a solid program at the gym are tools I use to get ready to race. I track all of my rides and compare where I am month to month, week to week, and year to year. It’s a great tool in confirming what kind of shape you are in, and it’s key to reducing anxiety before a race.
Start Racing Now
Where I live, the CX season doesn’t start until late August, and it until December. I try not to travel too far for my races so that I can do about 7-10 Cx races a season. That is not a lot of races. I don’t want to waste the first couple of races with anxiety and fear, so it’s important to get over that before CX season starts. A great way to do this is to start racing now. Race a crit or a road race; hit a mountain bike race or two. These races will get you used to what it feels like to get to the start line. Also, nothing helps you get into primo shape like a good race. Start racing now and use these races to quell your anxieties and push your fitness to the next level.
Be a Predator, Not Prey
Showing up at the race with the goal being to win will put you in a totally different mindset than if you are there just to get a workout. It’s a race, and in my opinion you should be there to win. If you go into the race with the attitude that you are going to win it makes you the predator. You become the lion chasing the gazelle for its noon time meal. Do you think that lion is scared? Hell no! He’s hungry! Be the lion and go into that race ready to attack and win, and you will.
This is how I squash the fear. Fear is the mind-killer; don’t let it get the best of you…

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