Such a dirty thing, doubt.
When you know something, you should just know it, right? Wrong.
Doubt is the dirt that clogs the perfect pedal stroke, the sand in the shoes of the best runners in the world and one of the primary reasons you will not achieve your goals. How many times do we have to see the worlds best throw it away because of doubt. Doubt it something you learn. It’s a disease that comes with age, with time and with bad influence.
For the working athlete, doubt is a gigantic challenge. It’s the fear of not having done enough that destroys the form you have taken so long to build. 99% of the time, if it’s a doubt related to mileage, it’s a wasted thought. Use your mind – its stronger than the body and has been proven to be the link to high level performance, 100% of the time over lactic acid build up or anything related to the muscles.
Prof Noakes and I will agree that Ryan Sandes runs in a trance. Doubt never enters his mind. He has never really lost, so why should he doubt himself? By removing the doubt he cannot lose, right? The athlete who has no doubt will attack earliest because they believe they can hold it the longest.
The smartest athlete may not be the one who always wins. Maybe it’s the guy who goes earliest, in that semi-trance like state, where they just go. Pantani was a great because to him, if he went, everyone would falter. When Contador is at his best, he never looks back. Do you think Mark Cavendish sprints for 2nd place? How many guys racing him are racing for 2nd place?
Bekele kicks from 600m to go in the 10 000m not because he needs to, but because he wants to. To make a statement, that nobody can doubt his dominance. He does it because he has no doubt that he can hold it for 600m.
When you are standing on the beach at Ironman, a trembling mess full of doubt – why is that? It’s not like you won’t finish. If you just keep moving, you`ll finish. So what is that doubt?
Are you scared of what you might achieve on the day?
Are you afraid of getting it all wrong? It’s the simplest day of the entire year for you, why are you so worried? All you have to do is ride smart and be smart about nutrition. That’s ALL you have to worry about. The rest of the day is pure joy after getting those 2 things right. Why doubt yourself on such simple tasks?
These thoughts all came to me as I was out removing doubt from my mind on Saturday. For the last few weeks work has been just ridiculously busy. I have not managed to get through the weeks without skipping numerous sessions. Not ideal when IMSA is 6 weeks away. Doubt was starting to creep in and I went out to do a beautiful, steady session all on my own, leaving the doubt out there, far away from home.
I figured there must be more than just a few of us who feel this way at the moment.
Your performance will not lie in the legs alone. Clearing the mind of doubt is the magic ingredient for many of us. It’s the basis of so much of our training – proving over and over we can do the distance, the intensity and the combination of those 2 elements.
Focus on clearing the doubt. When your mind says your legs are tired, clear the mind. Focus on something else entirely and best of all, think of nothing and just keep moving. Look for that trance-like hum that has you 20km down the road, riding faster, with smooth legs and a mind devoid of this doubt. It’s out there. In the past I have called it The Pause, The Ellipsis, etc.
You know the feeling. Make it your mission to find it over the next few weeks.