Pushing through mental barriers on the bike

Rob Cummins Ironman Bike

Today on The Kona Edge we head back to Utah to catch up with Brice Williams who talks to us about his Ironman bike and how he pushes through his limits when training.

(Read the transcription of our chat here)

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Podcast Transcription:

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome back onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, we’re chatting some biking on this edition and we head back to Utah to catch up with Brice Williams. Brice, welcome back onto the podcast, thank you for your time.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  It’s great to be here again.

BRAD BROWN:  Brice, let’s talk about your bike. Out of the three disciplines, I haven’t asked you in this previous chats, what would you say is your strongest, what’s your weakest and how would you rate your bike there?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  I would say my strongest is the swim, second strongest is the run and my weakest is my bike.

BRAD BROWN:  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  That’s definitely a bad thing! It’s the longest of the three, so I wish it was my strongest!

BRAD BROWN:  You’ve obviously worked extremely hard on it over the years, what are some of the things you’ve done that you think have really moved the needle on your bike performance?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  The biggest thing I would say is that over time I’ve learned to not be afraid of pushing through my limits on the bike.

BRAD BROWN:  Is that in a race or in training or both?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  Mostly in training. By the time you get to the race, you should have a pretty good idea of what effort you should be putting out. We live in a time when we have these bought meters, these power meters, so you can really dial in what it should be for the race but no, I’m talking about training. Pushing through mental barriers on the bike has really helped my cycling get better.

BRAD BROWN:  Talk to me about some of those barriers, what were some of the things that were holding you back?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  So, part of it is a fear of failing a workout. If somebody gives you, if your workout training plan calls for five minute at best effort intervals, a lot of times I would start a little bit lower than what I think I can hold, just to be safe, especially if I had 10 of them coming up. I’m going to start maybe a little bit lower and then gradually over time pick them up and over the years I’ve noticed that man, that 10th one I really bump up 20 watts. I’ve kind of stepped back and said, “I’m going to push it a little bit harder from the beginning and if that last one is a little lower than the others, I’m okay with that.” That’s okay or if I blow up on number eight and that’s the end of the workout, that’s okay. Being willing to fail on the bike is great. I think that’s helped me and when you’re outside riding; it’s harder to do that because it’s harder to push your body to the absolute limit. Staying indoors on the trainer has also pushed my bike performance up because I can fall off the bike and I know I’m not going to die, I know I’m just going to hit the ground.

BRAD BROWN:  It’s an interesting point you make and I’m not sure if it was a podcast or if it was a Ted Talk I heard, Seth Godin was talking about that part of human nature where we always hold something back. We don’t always quite give 100% and he uses the example of when you ask someone or a group of people to raise their hands and everybody, raise your hands as high as you can and they raise it and you ask them to raise it a little bit higher and generally people can raise it a bit higher. I think that speaks to that point, is there’s always something more you can give and you’ve just got to condition yourself and train yourself to push that little bit harder in training.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  Yeah, one of the phrases I have posted on the wall in front of my bike trainer is, ‘Accept the pain, it’s really only in your head.’ Our brains tend to limit us, we all have this internal governor, so if you can learn to turn that off and push to the limit and on the bike that’s okay because the incidence of injury is quite low. Your risk of creating an injury on the bike is quite low.

BRAD BROWN:  Absolutely, as far as your favorite workout on the bike, what do you love doing?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  The best workout I’ve found is getting on Zwift and doing a race and there’s nothing like a race to push you through that mental barrier. Zwift is just this perfect venue to get your butt kicked on a regular basis because you’re in there with guys that are just phenomenal cyclists. They’re not running and they’re not swimming, so you go in with that expectation that you’re going to get your butt kicked and it’s great, it’s a humbling experience, but it helps you push through.

BRAD BROWN:  It’s good for that competitive gene within you as well to play those sorts of things or do those sorts of things in training. Brice, as always, great to catch up, I look forward to talking about your run, but we’ll save that for next time out.


About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.


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