The topic for this Mental Skills Minute is all about recovering from a bad stage. In a stage race as long as the Tour de France, you are bound to have a day that doesn’t go as planned. When you have a day that doesn’t go as well as you hoped it would, you need to be able to find a way to let it go, regroup, and get focused on the next day’s stage.
Pick a time to reflect and a time to move on. If you find yourself brooding over a bad day follow these steps to help refocus:
- Pick a specific length of time to analyze: Pick a set amount of time to think about that day’s stage. You can even set a timer to it. You get one hour to be pissed off, learn from it, and move on.
- Keep it simple: There is a time to do some serious analyzing and that time is not necessarily during the race. Keep it simple and ask yourself these questions – What did I do well? What would I change? What do I want to carry forward into tomorrow?
- Draw a line in the sand: Create a symbolic line that once it’s crossed, you have let go of that day’s stage and move on. You need to recover and prepare mentally for the next day’s stage and you are eating into that precious time when you can’t let go and move on. Your “line” could be closing the car door, walking into the hotel room, getting out of the shower, etc. Create some symbolic way that becomes your ritual for moving on.
The reason this is so important is that after a bad stage we create a story about that stage. This is the story we tell over and over in our minds. It might not be the same story you tell to your friends or the media, but it’s the one you actually believe and tell yourself. The story you create in your mind gets carried forward into the next day. That story has a HUGE impact on your confidence and focus moving forward. It’s even more important to be deliberate about the story you create after a bad day because events that have a strong negative emotion attached to them get a deeper imprint in your memory. You have to override it. Don’t let the emotion tell the story because the emotion never tells the whole story – it only tells the part where you’re pissed off, frustrated, angry, and upset. YOU are the author, so make sure the story you tell is one that helps you keep your focus and confidence.