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Mentality and The Mental War

In the last few weeks on MTBr.com a forum I peruse. There have been discussions about pedal types, smoothing of trails, and so on all leading to the usual internet sniping.

Yet when you put aside all the physical arguments for all these sides it really boils down to one simple issue. As a coach the mental aspect is by far the biggest challenge we face when trying to teach a new skill, correcting mistakes, or even simply getting an athlete to relax.

When I speak of the Mental War it’s not just our individual self doubt I am referring to. It is the Mind Body Conflict I am talking about. Which put in simple terms… our mind makes us feel good when we do things that conserve energy and is basically taking the easier choice. So when one is faced with a trail challenge that requires us to use more energy get over then the ride around. If we take the ride around our mind without us even realizing it makes us feel good about it because it took less work. We are not even aware this is happening.

The reality is that we have this body that can ride flat pedals, clipless, and so on. Yet it is all controlled by an operating system (The brain) who’s number one goal is to use the least amount of effort possible. The way our body and mind functions unconciously is not even relevant in our modern society that makes things easy.

Unless one puts the mental effort in we will always choose the easier option. Another example is the whole which pedal is better argument. Science has proven that riding flat pedals take more work mentally and physically. While riding clipless pedals uses less mentally and physically. So the mind rewards us again by making us feel good when riding clipless. And in the end the whole Clipless vs Flat pedals argument is not about what works better. It’s about what our mind unconciously tells us is better based on energy conservation and requires the least amount of work.

At the end of all arguments, jabbering, and such it boils down to choice. The choice being,

A. Take the easy way and be happy with things as they are

or

B. Accepting the challenge to do new things and learn new skills.

Pick one.

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