While on a bike ride today I had a chance to think about some things that can be helpful in racing. First, one small thing I forgot to mention about hydration in my last post. If you wait until you’re thirsty, you waited too long. You want to maintain a consistent hydration schedule and drink before you are thirsty. This will help to maintain a more even flow of energy and thus be more efficient.
Next and perhaps one of the keys to having a great day instead of a good day, is focus. It’s very easy for your mind to wonder and begin to pull your focus away from what you are doing.
For example, if you find yourself thinking about and becoming overly concerned about Obama’s health care bill while paddling, I guarantee that your paddling will slow down regardless of whether you are for or against it. You’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand. There are many ways to do that and I recommend that you experiment with a technique that works for you. You might try picking an element of your stroke to focus on, and work at that until you see improvement, or start looking for elements of the swell that might give you clues about when to sprint for a glide. Whatever it takes to maintain your focus will help you keep your effort level where you want it.
Another way to be easily distracted is to focus on your competitor. It’s natural to want to beat people around you, but the more you focus on them the less you focus on you. No matter how hard you try to effect their board speed you can’t, you can only influence yours. So focus on what you can control and forget about what they’re doing. I know it’s next to impossible to not react when someone you think you can beat starts to pass you. Don’t react with your muscles, react with your mind. Meaning, turn your focus up, concentrate on your breathing, use your focus to sharpen your technique and then slowly and methodically start to push yourself to stay with them. You don’t always have to pass them back, sometimes just covering their move is enough to break their will if they were trying to drop you.
Another very difficult thing to do is not panic if someone links a few good glides together. Being patient and knowing when to strike because the iron is hot can be extremely difficult. You have to realize that down winding is a game of rhythm and sprints. Knowing when to sprint, unfortunately only comes with miles and years. I have a saying I like to use, “it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.” Meaning the more mistakes you make the more opportunity you have to learn and progress. Fortunately in down winding, mistakes basically have no consequence. So there is nothing to fear with experimentation.
Lastly, remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. One of the extraordinary things about stand up, is that every rung on this progressive ladder we’re all climbing, is plain flat out fun. So just because someone is ten seconds or ten minutes faster than you doesn’t mean they are having anymore fun than you, only that they are faster for whatever reason. For me the beer tastes just as good whether you’re first or thirty first. Similar to yoga in a way, it’s all relative to your starting point. Have fun.