Think back to the last time you quit. Perhaps you abandoned a race, or you just had to stop pedalling on an interval session. Why did you stop? Chances are your legs and body were screaming at you! The burn, the pain, the fatigue were all too much.

Let’s look at another example …

Try hold a wall squat (hips below 90 degrees) for as long as you can. You can already imagine the burn in your legs, the shaking. Eventually it all gets too much and your legs collapse. You then stand up. How is it possible to stand up using the very same muscles? The answer: your legs didn’t fail, your mind did. You consciously disengaged from the task because the pain was perceived to be too much.

Recent studies have brought what we thought we knew about performance and endurance under question.

Our assumption has been that our legs fail when the intensity gets too much. It turns out that exhaustion (quitting, stopping, call it what you like) is actually a form of “task disengagement” not “task failure”. It’s not our legs that give up, but it’s our mind!

The point at which we disengage from an effort is determined by our levels of perceived effort and motivation. This means we consciously decide to “give up”/stop pedalling when the effort required is perceived to be too much.

MentalWorks is an integrated coaching paradigm that brings together the best of sports psychology and exercise physiology to train your mind and body simultaneously for improved performance. Combining on-the-bike methods such as Brain Endurance Training (BET) and Attentional Focus Strategies (AFS), the MentalWorks programme will unearthing and reframe your natural mental limiters, improve your suffer-ability, mental strength and endurance.

Dion Guy

Dion Guy runs the PainCave and specialises in ultra-endurance mountain bike events.

Aiden Choles

Aiden has a background in psychology and specialises in ultra-endurance mountain bike events.