Friday, June 22, 2012

Remember the little stuff.

By BJ Basham, PCG Master Coach

I have worked with lots of riders in the years that I have been coaching and you can think of riders as being in different phases of their preparation. Everyone can be thought of as being at the bottom of their form, in a growing and improving phase or at the top or peak of their form and this applies to new and experienced riders.

Remembering the “little stuff” refers to paying attention to all the other things that you do to get ready for your events other than training. Little things can be stuff like remembering your recovery nutrition or taking a nap or getting enough sleep.

When it comes to paying attention to the little stuff it is the riders at the top and bottom of their form that usually need to be reminded the most.  Riders who are improving and seeing progress and return from their training are motivated to keep seeing that progress so they are motivated to stay on top of the little stuff.

What does it matter?

Riders at the bottom of their form can risk getting in a “What does it matter?” state of mind.
  • What does it matter what I eat, I’m not training that much.
  • What does it matter if my bike is squeaking, I’m not fit enough to win.
  • What does it matter if I start at the back, I’m not going to finish anyway.
  • Snickers bars and beer make for good recovery if I am out of shape anyway.  

For these riders, redoubling their focus on the small stuff can help them to start to make gains and to start improving faster. Making sure to train and rest and take care of their bodies is a necessity for getting back into shape.

They need to remember that if you assume you will not ride well you will almost always be right. But doing all they can to avoid holding themselves back will give them the best chances for great training days which can lead to great race days.

Bullet Proof.

Strangely enough, when riders reach their peak of fitness, it is possible that they can get in a “bullet proof” mind set.
  • I am so strong I can eat what I want.
  • I am so fast that I can waste my energy in the race and still be in with a shot.
  • I am so fit that I can win on a muddy bike with worn out training tires.  
  • Recovery drinks and extra rest are for riders weaker than me.  
 For these riders, staying focused can help to extend their peak and also ensure that they are not wasting their limited days of peak form on days that are not the targets of their season. Many riders in the middle of the peak of their season go super deep at the Wednesday night worlds and then wonder why they did not have the snap at their target events on the weekends.
Everybody needs to remember the little stuff.

Every rider needs to pay attention to the little stuff and I have seen riders who can hold that focus right up to and through their target events. But I have seen just as many riders who will lose the plot in the days and even hours before an event. They let their diet get sloppy or they spend time doing stuff other than resting. On race day some riders will totally neglect their pre-race prep or not warm up like they have been with every workout leading up to the event.

There are probably a number of reasons that a rider might forget the little stuff. For some it may be just a matter of making sure they have an excuse for not riding well.
  • I would have done better if I got my normal warm-up.
  • I would have won if I remember to pump up my tires.
  • I would have finished if I did not eat McDonalds on the way to the race.
The riders who tend to be successful will be the ones who pay attention to the process of getting ready to race. That process does not end until you get to the end of the event. Remembering the little stuff is a simple thing that every rider can do to make sure they see that process all the way through.

BJ Basham is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach. He can be contacted directly through