Tip of the hat to Max Rendall for this film that was released last week starring Phil Atwill. The film showcases some awesome riding with plenty opportunities to study the Phil Atwill steeze but I really like this for another reason.
The film starts with a voice over giving an insight into what Flow State (also referred to as ‘The Zone’) is but how do elite level riders achieve it?
The blunt truth is, tens of thousands of hours of riding practice; but even then this isn’t enough. Elite level riding doesn’t just come from physical practice; it comes from mental practice too.
If you roll the film forward to 7 minutes, you’ll hear Phil talking about his ‘mental highlight reel’, or in other words, mental imagery. One of the key things that people get wrong with mental imagery is they think that picturing the race or a track or success in their head will be enough. To get mental imagery right however, you need to focus of the sensory experience of what you’re picturing, and Phil nails this point when he says:
“I’ll sit down and have a bit of breathing time and go through the run…..like tryna picture the feelings and everything. Like even if you f**king smell something at the side of the track, just try and make it as real as it was……”
To gain an edge from mental imagery, it’s critical to make the sensory experience as real as you possibly can from the feel of your jersey on your chest, to the aches in your hands and feet from the vibration of the bike, to the wind on your face…..to the smells at the side of the track.
If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.