'When' not 'If'.
If you are familiar with the name Norman Vincent Peale the chances are that you are at least 50 years old. If the name rings no bells you might recognise the title of his seminal book - "The Power of Positive Thinking." Crudely speaking it is about autosuggestion and the benefits of a positive outlook. The important aspect for us is understanding the influence of thought over performance. Too often failure is foreshadowed by negative thinking. I guess we have all seen it happen in a race and we can easily pick out the riders who will not complete a multi-day stage race based on their narrative.
Stop using words like 'if' and replace them with 'when'. It's not that much different to the Assumptive Closing Technique they teach you in sales training. If you're a peddler of goods then you've no excuse for not being a positive pedaller. Rather than, "If I get to Diemersfontein.." say, "When I get to Diemersfontein..", otherwise you are going to 'If' yourself home on an early bus.
Go one step further and visualise yourself riding over the finish line, feel the weight of the precious finishers medal as Alex places it around your neck and then allow your minds eye to look down at the medal and then imagine it has a low single digit number on it.
Adjust your timeframe.
When we're at gym or riding up a steep hill we tell ourselves that we just need to dig in for another 30 to 40 seconds. We reason that we can do anything for 30 seconds. When I ride 947 and I pass the Douglasdale police station I know I just have to give it everything for another 30 or 40 minutes. Hanging in there for those seconds or minutes makes it all worthwhile when the ride is done and we reflect back on our achievements.
When you race The Munga the seconds and minutes matter but not nearly as much as the hours and days. I think in terms of hours when I'm waiting for the sun to dip below the horizon so that I can put my head down and make the best use of the cooler hours. I think in terms of days when I contemplate the overall race. When you've spent the better part of a year obsessing over a race it's easier to think in days and sometimes weeks. At the start of the Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa last year I adjusted my timeframe to 2 weeks. That's the time I wanted to finish the race in and I constantly reminded myself during the race that all I had to do was dig in and give it everything for just 2 weeks. On The Munga, standing on the start line at midday on Wednesday, my focus was on Saturday lunchtime. That might seem like a long time to ride your bike but whether you are curled up in a bed, or sleeping under a tree, or riding your bike, Saturday lunchtime is going to come around. And when it does I would far rather be slurping on a milkshake in the restaurant at Diemersfontein than pedalling along a hot dusty road with hours and days still ahead. The thought process is this, "No time to go soft now, you've done the training, you know what's needed, you have a race plan, now execute. If you go soft now you will have regrets afterwards. Get on with it!"
I covered the aspect of racing without regrets in a post last year after finishing the Freedom Challenge.
Have a plan.
Before the race I set myself a target and then break that down into the various stages. Once I have a workable plan I go public with it. Nailing my colours to the mast is my way of cementing my resolve. I get it wrong from time to time but I feel obliged to deliver on my plan and it keeps me motivated.
You don't need an audacious plan, but certainly don't stand on the start line hoping to wing it. That's an indication of a scruffy mind. The most important weapon you have is your headspace. Have it ordered so that it serves your ambitions and doesn't detract from them.