In light of some recent blog posts you may be wondering (I know I am) what effect my mental attitude had on my performance at Trans Iowa. I think that I did the best I could given my fitness on race day. I left it all on the course, but I was beat when I made it to the first checkpoint and I doubt I could have made it faster that day. My attitude was good on race day. I'm okay with how I did that day.
On the other hand, my attitude was crap for the two months preceding the race. That is where I failed. Because I had a poor attitude I didn't train as I should have. Many of my post-work workouts didn't happen and I slept in more weekends than I rode. My training was so lax that T.I., at ~60 miles of gravel and 30 of pavement, was still my longest ride of the year. I should have had multiple gravel centuries in, but I couldn't stomach the thought of 8-10 hours of riding on my days off. I'm not okay with that.
I'm not a big believer in The Power of Positive Thinking. Some days I just don't have it and I think that's okay. I do know the meaning of "quit" and I think I'm better for it. If you think that you can be positive all the time you're going to be in for a big surprise halfway through an endurance race.
That said the most important thing, whether training or racing, is to, no matter how you feel about it, act like you're going to do it. If you don't feel like getting up and going that's okay, but you'll have to do it anyway. Actually I think that this is one of the best sorts of training.
I remember someone saying to me once that a race was "90% mental" and it was probably true, but you don't train the mind for a race by sitting down and meditating. You train it by getting up and doing physical training even when you don't want to.
For more on mental toughness during a race check Guitar Ted's blog posts of a few months back. There's some good stuff there if I do say so myself:
Mental Toughness II