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The Power of Attitude

by Racer X Virtual Trainer

Short and Dungey are perfect examples of what a good attitude can do for an athlete.

photo: Steve Cox

Attitude - It's a State of Mind
A good training program consists of four components; cardio conditioning, muscular endurance, flexibility, and training of the mind (or attitude). Most riders understand the importance of first three, its the fourth component that most overlook. If you are not 100 percent committed to training, I guarantee you will fail to meet your goals. Getting motivated can be very difficult if you don't learn how to maintain a positive attitude. Bad news is every where, and it's difficult not let all of the negative news affect your attitude. This tends to make you pessimistic about life in general and in turn your training program. A bad attitude leads to bad habits which lead to bad results on and off the track. The most important part of any training program is first making the decision that you want to become a better rider by committing yourself to a training program. Then you must learn how to develop an attitude that will keep you committed to your goals.

Life Events Shape Your Attitude
If you tend to be a negative person, you must first identify your poor habits and remove them from your life. Pay close attention to how you interpret events that surround you. Your attitude is formed by how you interpret different situations in life. By paying close attention to how you process the information around you, you will be able to identify whether you are a positive person or a negative one. When a difficult situation presents itself, do you look at the situation as a pessimist or an optimist? Do you see the opportunity as a chance to fail or to succeed? Your attitude is shaped by the way you perceive reality and ultimately your attitude is made up of your thoughts and feelings. Since your thoughts ultimately control your actions, the thoughts that you fill your head with are very important. Usually in life the quick easy way will give you instant gratification that fades quickly, while hard work and dedication have no immediate gratification but will lead to lasting success in the future. If you think negatively towards training and give into instant gratification, you are letting your negative thoughts control your actions. Instant gratification is a sign of a week attitude. If you condition your mind to remain positive, your actions will lead you down the path towards success.

When James Stewart was presented this difficult situation in the first turn at A1 a few years ago, I guarantee he looked at this opportunity as a chance to succeed!

A positive attitude is not simply developed by waking up one day and saying, "today I am going to be positive." Although your brain is not a muscle it acts like one in the sense that it must be conditioned over time to accept positive thoughts over negative. Developing positive thoughts requires a great deal of energy and time and will require you to live the lifestyle of an athlete. Training, diet, riding and all of the other ingredients necessary to become a successful rider (or person for that matter) must be part of your daily life. You have to live the life of a champion to become a champion. I believe this applies to the guy fighting for a factory ride, right down to the weekend warrior. If you condition your mind on a daily basis like you do the rest of your body, eventually the positive thought process will become natural. A strong, positive attitude will replace the weak, negative one. But in order for this to happen, you have to be willing to make the commitment and work every day on your attitude.

How to Develop a Positive Attitude
In order to develop a positive mind set, you must learn how to control your thoughts and beliefs. Your thoughts and beliefs dictate what your actions in life will be; therefore it is important to learn how to develop positive thoughts and believe in the things that will lead you in the right direction. In the beginning, learning how to control your thoughts can be as simple as forcing yourself to make the right decision. This applies not only to training but all sorts of circumstances in your life. Take a simple example like your diet. The way you perceive food and how it affects your performance on the bike will dictate how you eat. If you have a weak attitude towards your diet and do not believe that eating right is important to a racer, then you will not be able to maintain a proper diet. Instead of taking the easy way out with fast food and soda, force yourself to skip the guilty pleasures like pizza and beer and eat something healthy to remain committed to your dietary goals. After forcing yourself to eat a healthy diet in the beginning, you will see the results of a healthy diet and become conditioned to wanting to eat healthy foods. Your positive thoughts and beliefs relating to food will lead you down the road to a successful diet.

Developing a positive outlook toward your training program goes hand-in-hand with a positive attitude. If you dread doing your workouts and can't wait for the hour and a half to be complete, then you need to reevaluate whether or not you really want to be successful at MX. If you have not yet accepted the fact that

Chad Reed has had his fair share of difficulties with injuries but his positive attitude and strong will propel him to the front of the pack.

photo: Steve Cox

proper conditioning is a very important key to becoming a champion (or successful weekend warrior), then you haven't been paying attention. By telling yourself each day that you don't want to go to the gym and that you don't enjoy training, you are filling your head with negative thoughts and are setting yourself up for failure. By thinking negatively towards training you are conditioning your mind to accept negative thoughts. You're in last place and the starter hasn't even turned the card sideways. By telling yourself that you don't want to train, you will most likely look for the easy way out during your workouts and become inconsistent and nonproductive. This leads to failure. If on the other hand, you are serious about your race results, you need to develop a positive attitude about training. Instead of dreading your workout, focus on how a good hard workout is going to lead to better race results. Instead of looking forward to the end of your workout, develop an attitude that your are an animal, and nothing is going to stop you from reaching your goals. Accept the fact that training is not necessarily fun and easy but difficult and grueling. By realizing this and remaining positive you are conditioning your mind to be mentally tough and able to cope with negative events. By getting through a tough workout and realizing that you didn't give up, you are conditioning your mind to be mentally tough and soon a positive attitude will become natural.

Paying the Price in Gym Leads to a Payday at the Track
Developing a tough mental state is part of a good attitude. By training hard and pushing yourself to your limit each workout, you are conditioning your mind to deal with pain and adversity. The next time you are working out and feel like you can't go any further, condition your mind to accept the fact that you can continue on and work even harder. This mental toughness will carry over to the race track and keep you digging for more as the moto wears on. When your arms feel like noodles and your lungs are on fire, you will be more likely to keep charging as the rest of the pack gives in. Because of your positive attitude and tough mental state you will be able to endure more pain and adversity on the track than your competitors. Proper training, and a tough mental attitude will not necessary make you faster; but it will make you faster longer.

The great thing about motocross is that it is an individual sport. Whether or not you fail or succeed is totally up to you. So, as far as your physical training goes, if your arms lock up and your legs give out with two laps to go, you only have yourself to blame. Don't confuse this article for a bunch of rah-rah feel good hype. Like I said before, this is tough work and I'm just telling it like it is. I'm not trying to paint a picture that you have to live your life like Beaver Cleaver; all squeaky clean and perfect. Life is simply not that way. In a world that gets more and more competitive each day, a good attitude and tough mental state are absolutely imperative if you want to be successful in the game of life.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    ACBR June 30, 2010 at 8:00 pm


    I really apreciate what I read here. It's great.

    But I think this subject is so important that this article is not enough, at least for me. I would like to suggest you to continue talking about this. For me the article was a little short, it looks like it stopped in the middle of the book, or like it's just a brief.

    Anyway I'd like to thank you for the article, because it is something that made me think again about my training efforts.

    Best regards,


  2. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer July 02, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    ACBR, glad you liked the article. Check out the "Mental Training" section for more articles related to this topic. Also, search the site for more articles. I think there are more in other sections.

    Here is an article on Inspiration -

  3. Gravatar
    Hammer February 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Exceptional article Tim, glad you wrote this and keep up the good work!

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