Focus is the ability to put aside distractions and put attention and effort into a specific objective. Focus is often considered a positive attribute. Many times today, we hear the term “in the moment”. I consider someone who is focused to be in the moment.
Focus in terms of cycling means several things. In the narrowest sense, it means being able to hit the objectives of the specific workout for the day. Or, if we are in a race, it means keeping the objectives of the race in the forefront of our consciousness and doing what we can to achieve them. A good periodized training plan has objectives for the week/month and includes goals for the year. Focus allows us to keep those longer term goals in mind.
So as you go about your training, stayed focused. Attain the objectives for each workout and continue to make progression on your goals/objectives for the year.
“Perseverance – steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” *
What a powerful word perseverance is. Despite difficulties or obstacles, you will continue with your course of action. Even fighting your own discouragement, arguably one of the most difficult challenges, you will persevere and drive on.
Perseverance is one of the strongest attributes you can bring to your cycling (and the rest of your life as well). Cycling is a hard sport. It requires many long hours on the bike. During this time of year those hours are often indoors on the trainer — a discouraging proposition if there ever was one. Other challenges include learning technical skills (which can get bloody or worse), rainy or cold weather, and sometimes even just signing up for a popular race is a challenge (since they can sell out in minutes).
All the efforts of training are paid back when it’s time to race. Racing is the easy part, right? We get to enjoy the fruits of our labors. If it were only so simple. The truth is the other competitors lined up with us want to demonstrate their level of preparation as well. Racing demands we dig deep within ourselves and put out all the strength we’ve gained through training. We have to push ourselves to discomfort or even pain if we want to be competitive. We may have to overcome unforseen obstacles thrown our way — mechanicals or other course elements we didn’t expect. Folks who raced in the recent Snotcycle MTB race in Leesburg VA were confronted with a challenge — the snow was mostly un-ridable for the early racers so the choice was to run the ~9 mile lap or give up. That’s a true test of perseverance.
Achieving your goals for the year also requires long term perseverance. You may have specific performance goals (achieve a certain threshold watts for example) and it will take a lot of dedicated work to achieve those goals. No one said it would be easy, but that’s partly why we like our sport. It’s not for the weak willed. It’s for the strong willed athlete. Show us your perseverance in 2011.
* definition from Random House Dictionary as obtained at dictionary.reference.com