Planning beat overthinking!

Mental game. This week I did something new and now you get to hear about it! As a former weightlifter turned multi-sporter, there are plenty of new exciting things for me to learn and to train. Last week I completed my first FTP cycling test. For those not in the know, including me until 5 days ago, it’s a test to measure power output. You jump on a stationary bike, ride with cadence 90-100 and aim to produce as much power (watts) as you can over 20mins. Sounds easy, right?

Following immediately from the cliffhanger above, it was not! To warm-up for the FTP test you complete a 20min warm up. It’s all programmed and there is an increase in cadence and intensity throughout the warm-up to best prepare you for success during the test. This was fine, spin the legs, get the heart going and even chat to the coach, Jianni. Jianni is my new favourite person. He’s a former Greek triathlete, all ‘round good guy and owner of V Bike down in Westhaven. Get along there and tell him I sent you! Jianni and I chatted about everything from being in the former-athlete club to the state of the world and beyond. The last thing he said to me before the test commenced was “you’re pretty fit, I think you can go for 300, only 19 people have gotten above 300”. Target acquired! I LOVE a challenge and I’d just been given the green light from my new best mate so it was on. 3, 2, 1… test begin!

With my new target in sight I took off like a young Armstrong. My watts were reading in the mid-300’s and I felt strong! Quickly remembering this was a 20min test, and I was 40 seconds into it, I figured I’d pull back a notch... and then it began. What if I’ve come out too hot? Is my heart rate too high? Should I change gear, go harder, softer, shut up brain, you’re a former pound-for-pound champ, that doesn’t matter now, my legs hurt, do I have corona, will Olivia Rodrigo ever find love, do you taste blood…? It was now 50 seconds into the test.

I wasn’t the 20th person to go above 300. I felt like I’d let my new mentor down. He told me I was a good man and I did well. All was forgiven. It was one of the hardest workouts I’ve done in the last wee while. Partly because of the top 2-inches and the pressure I’d put on myself. As soon as my mind started racing my body reacted with an increased heart rate, breathing rate, sweat (so much sweat). Could I have hit the 300 otherwise? We’ll never know. Let’s be clear, this has occupied 100% of my sports related thoughts since then.

This bodily reaction to the brain’s over activity is nothing new but we can counter it with some mental prep! If you’re in the gym and there’s a workout that gives you the willies, don’t go in blind! Break down the reps, ask the coach about timings and go about it strategically. With a plan to follow you can moderate your output as you go and limit the fears. Give it a go, log your score and in 1 months time we can get to 300… I mean, achieve your goals!

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