When we enter a new year, it's a good chance to refresh our resolutions with some psychological approaches to make the next 12 months successful and fulfilling on the bike.
Resolution 1 - Remember that you reap what you sow
One of the most important thoughts to hold on to is that you'll get back what you put in. Whether it's miles in the saddle doing quality training, or time and effort in preparing yourself fully for the challenges of the rides ahead, commitment to being the best rider you can is the key.
However, I often find athletes apply this unquestionably to training or nutrition but forget it applies equally to the mental approach to sport. Being positive with oneself in the way you prepare for a ride and reflect on performances is key to maintaining motivation and getting yourself in the right frame of mind to perform to your best. Remember that every ride has a positive element and that needs cherishing even if doom and gloom dominates.
Resolution 2 - Learn to relax
One of the central skills in mastering your mind and developing other psychological techniques is the ability to control your arousal levels. For most riders, developing relaxation skills is the first building block to effective use of imagery and controlling attention. If you are yet to master relaxation skills, then spend a little time researching the best approach for you.
Whether it is a local workshop in meditation techniques or a self-help guide to breathing techniques, relaxation can be an important skill for helping you get the most out your riding.
Resolution 3 - Keep the balance
Cycling is a sport that takes time and commitment. Unlike the squash player who fits in a 60-minute game once a week, cyclists are likely to spend considerable time and money on their sport. But such commitment to the sport does come with a potential cost other than the pounds spent down the local bike shop: the cost on those around you for whom your commitment in time and money may not be so logical or welcome.
Setting some clear parameters in terms of weekends to be committed, money to be spent and so on, early in the year can allow for a much clearer plan for the year's riding that avoids conflict and keeps your cycling as part of a well rounded life.