Fast Talk podcast: How to win with mind power

The best riders understand … mindset wins races. And controlling your thought patterns in races is extremely powerful.

Photo: BrakeThrough Media

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The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best training advice and most compelling insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist. Listen in as VeloNews managing editor Chris Case and our resident physiologist and coach, Trevor Connor, discuss a range of topics, including sport science, training, physiology, technology, nutrition, and more.

The best riders understand … mindset wins races. And controlling your thought patterns in races is one of the most powerful things you can do.

Mindset in cycling is an important and frequently neglected side of our training and racing. It’s avoided because it seems unclear, inconsistent, and, let’s face it, can be too new-agey for the likes of us “tough guys.” In reality, mindset is often all that separates the best from second best and can be the difference between reaching the podium or finishing a race.

When Coach Connor managed Team Rio Grande, he offered to cover the costs for one of our riders for a few sessions with a top sports psychologist in Colorado. The rider refused and ultimately quit the team. But when Trevor told several high-level pros the story they all asked the same thing: “Can I get those appointments?!”

Today, we’ll delve into this concept of controlling your thoughts for performance. We’ll touch on:

  1. The concept of dominant thought and why it’s so important, including whether we are funnels or buckets
  2. How athletes are either task- or ego-oriented, the pros and cons of each, and why it’s important to know which one you are
  3. Using trigger words to control your dominant thought
  4. Why it may not actually be good to stay mentally focused for an entire race and how to pick your moments when you are on your mental game
  5. And finally, how to control your thoughts when your body is screaming in pain and telling you to stop

Our primary guest today is a professor of sports psychology and is a senior teaching professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Brian Butki. Dr. Butki has worked with athletes in almost every sport, both at the university level and on professional teams in the Colorado area.

In addition to Dr. Butki we spoke with:

Dean Golich, a head coach at Carmichael Training Systems. Over decades as a top coach, Dean has worked with athletes all the way from recreational amateur riders to Olympians and world champions. He is uniquely qualified to talk about the mindset of top athletes. You may be very surprised to hear what he has to say.

Sepp Kuss, a WorldTour rider with LottoNL-Jumbo and winner of the 2018 Tour of Utah, talks with us briefly about his mindset and the danger of being too focused on the win.

Finally, local top coach Colby Pearce gives us a variety of tips on controlling your mindset both in training and in racing situations. In our next episode, we’ll talk with Colby and Chris about the hour record and their experience with it.

But in the meantime, Colby is going for the master’s world record from September 22-25. We’re still waiting to hear if they are going to livestream it. If they do, we’ll put a link up on the VeloNews page for this podcast along with our references.

So let’s get to the task at hand. Find your balance. Focus your mind. But don’t get too focused … you need your breaks. Let’s make you fast!

Fast Talk is available on all your favorite podcast services, including iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, and Soundcloud. If you enjoy the podcast, please take a moment to rate and comment on iTunes after listening.


  1. Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Thoughts of escape during competition: relationships with goal orientations and self-consciousness. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 2002. 3(3): p. 195-207.
  2. Brick, N.E., T.E. MacIntyre, and M.J. Campbell, Thinking and Action: A Cognitive Perspective on Self-Regulation during Endurance Performance. Front Physiol, 2016. 7: p. 159.
  3. Latinjak, A.T., M. Torregrosa, and J. Renom, Studying the effects of self-talk on thought content with male adult tennis players. Percept Mot Skills, 2010. 111(1): p. 249-60.
  4. Hays, K., et al., Sources and types of confidence identified by World class sport performers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2007. 19(4): p. 434-456.
  5. Corbett, J., et al., Influence of competition on performance and pacing during cycling exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2012. 44(3): p. 509-15.

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