Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

My Turn to Perform

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I get to focus on my own performance this weekend, rather than other people’s. Okay, I suppose I do that all the time, but this weekend my performance will be a little more visible. I’m racing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race. Yep, driving for 24 hours. Well, not just me… I have three co-drivers. But as this is the biggest and most famous endurance race in North America (second only to Le Mans internationally), I better be at the top of my game!

Actually, I’ve been preparing for this race for the past three months – coaching myself (yes, at the race I’ll have my own coach). This being the 16th time I’ve competed in this race, and having won it once, I know what it takes… and yet I’m stupid enough to come back for more each year!!! I say that because it’s a brutally tough race to compete in – one that I’ve sworn I’d never do again a few times (why do I always forget that feeling when it comes time to do it again?!).

I’m racing a Porsche (can’t go wrong with a Porsche in a long distance endurance race) for the Bullet Racing Team (www.bulletracing.ca), which is based in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada (hey, I hear Vancouver has a little sporting event coming to town next month…).

There are two things that make this year’s race really special.

First, it’s an all-Canadian team. My co-drivers are fellow Canadians, all the crew members are Canadian, and the car is painted red and white with big maple leaves in the graphics. For any athlete, getting to represent your country is something special, and that’s how we’re feeling, being the only Canadian team at Daytona this year.

Second, we’re raising money for B.C. Children’s Hospital. For every lap we do during the race, we’ll be helping the sick kids. And yes, you too can help them by going to www.bulletracing.ca and clicking on the donate button and pledging your support. To know that no matter what happens during the race, we’ll win for the kids is an extra inspiration.

Preparation for a 24-hour race is not much different from preparation for any major event, sporting or business. Only this one takes a little more than usual because of how mentally and physically demanding it is. Preparation is not just one thing – it’s everything.

I have stepped up my fitness training considerably in the past three months, as well as my mental training. Building up my cardio stamina is important, but even more important on the physical side is muscle stamina. Not so much outright strength, but the ability to hold that strength for a long time. In 24 hours I will drive at least four separate stints, ranging from one-and-a-quarter to two-and-a-half hours in length. You may think that driving for an hour or two is not that difficult, but the physical strains from the g-forces will keep my heart rate above 160 beats per minute for the entire time. And just holding my head up straight, with the g-forces pushing on my head and helmet non-stop, is a challenge. Especially after going for 20 hours or so, with next to no sleep.

And then there’s the mental stamina… the mental strain. When I’m driving at speeds of up to 180 MPH with the car on the ragged edge of traction through the turns, I cannot afford to lose focus for even a fraction of a second. It’s unlike any other sport. The competition doesn’t just score a touchdown against us, or I miss the green with a chip shot. No, the consequences of the tiniest mistake are not pleasant. To keep that level of focus for that length of time is something that I train for.

I also prepare through mental imagery (visualization), for as many different scenarios as possible. For the past couple of months I’ve been imaging a variety of scenarios on the track. That does two things: If one of those scenarios occurs, I’m ready – in fact, I’ve already done it before, so I don’t even have to think about what to do. And most importantly, by mentally rehearsing beforehand, I just feel ready. I’m in a performance state of mind. When you consider that on the straightaways I’ll be covering the length of a football field in a second, you can see why being mentally prepared is so important.

There are many other mental preparation techniques that I use, too – techniques I use in my coaching, which comes from sports psychology, martial arts, neuro-science, and other disciplines.

So, it’s my turn to perform at my peak… in public. In fact, 19 of the 24 hours will be covered live on Fox and Speed channels this weekend. Or, online at http://www.grand-am.com/. And, feel free to follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/rossbentley) – I plan to tweet throughout the build-up to the race, and between my driving stints during the race.

Time to perform… I can’t wait… Watch this!

trackax gp oxan