Do you train your mind?

Hey y’all!! I’m Sonya Looney, a Wahoo sponsored athlete and professional cyclist. I also love teaching and talking about mental skills training. Indoor riding is a great place to start working on things like self-talk, mental imagery, and being able to notice the climate of your mind when things get tough. Working on mental skills is the difference between good and great performers.

I want to be here as a resource and mentor for you! The Sufferfest App has a mental training section. What questions do you have/how can I help?

I’ll be adding topics to this thread to help instigate more discussion too!! But first- over to you!


Hi Sonya,
Great to see more content about training the mind. I use some mindfulness and the mental toughness plan. The one thing that gives me the most trouble is getting the nutrition part of the training right. To much donuts :slight_smile: . So anything that helps with that would be an welcome addition.

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Nutrition and all the delicious treatsy things… you’re not alone in that! Can you be more specific so I can be more specific with some tips?

My head is my weakest link!

What happens in a moment when you notice your head being the weakest link? When is it happening, what are you saying to yourself? That’s step 1!

Hi @sonyalooney,

welcome to the forum and thank you for your support. We‘re glad to have you.

Maybe you can even work with Wahoo SUF Training on the next revision/expansion of the Mental Toughness Program available today. That would be awesome.

By the way, I took the liberty to move your topic into the Training-category of this forum. I feel like it fits here the best.
Not sure if the Wahoo/SUF team wants it in the From The Coaches-category, if yes, they can move it again themselves.

I‘m interested to see where this thread is going.


Mainly is hard for me to stop eating sweets and chocolate because my mind tricks me into thinking that’s it’s ok because I will train later.

I tried some mindful eating eating sessions but did not have any succes. It’s strange to me that I seem to have the willpower to suffer on the bike but cannot will myself to quit the candy.


@sonyalooney The first question I would ask you is what do you do to train your mind for your racing or training to get the best out of yourself and is it possible for me to copy or otherwise learn from that?

I’ve been through the Suf MTP twice and recently produced my best middle distance triathlon performance. I’m not at the top of my Mount Sufferlandria yet and, given the world situation and race cancellations, I wonder how I will achieve those goals. It’s becoming easier to convince myself that it doesn’t matter anymore and look to other goals (including in a different sport).

Is that OK? To shift and refocus without feeling like one has “failed” any given goal?

Plus one on a revision or second chapter of the MTP!

Have used it to great success to achieve some goals I had never thought possible before.

Loving that this thread has been created. @sonyalooney so thanks for joining. I’m def gonna follow this thread. Icymi, there is a Positive Self Talk thread that’s worth trawling. Some real gems in there


Thanks! I’m not sure where to put it but thanks so much :slight_smile:

I think the SUF Mental Toughness Program is a great place to start with mental skills training and I love how it integrates with the calendar.

I think we always prioritize training our body because we can see it and feel it. Training the mind is a little bit more of a slow burn, but you definitely have to frontload things like confidence and self-talk before you get to the moments requiring resilience!!

I’m excited to help where I can and am open to new topics to help fill in the gaps for everyone’s training. Plus, I learn by helping others too because I don’t know everything!

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Count me in … have done the MTP once and have it scheduled to do it again in a week or so to try and silence that “I cannot do this” voice in my head

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I love it! Just like you have to keep training your legs, you have to keep training your mind! I remind myself all the time of the monks who have been monks forever and they still meditate. They weren’t like, “ok, I got this. I’m done.” They keep at it. Same for us!

Mantras using the word “you” and motivational self-talk (encouraging yourself) help. YOU got this. YOU are powerful. YOU love the burn! YOU will feel so proud after! I also like changing what I’m focusing on at that moment when I want to quit. Can I use mental imagery? Can I think of past successes to build my confidence? Can I count my breaths or my RPMs for 10 seconds?

And sometimes you do quit… it’s human. We get tired or sometimes the negative words win. Then it’s all about self-compassion and having the courage to hit it again another day!

Go the Knight of Sufferlandria who maybe says NEE!


Hi, trying to get an unofficial MTP mentoring circle off the ground. Unofficial MTP Mentoring Circle?

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Today during #FF, I sensed the beginning of a downward spiral. I mixed it up and shifted from “You can do this!” to “You are doing this!” It stopped the spiral and helped get me back in the fight.


That’s a really awesome distinction and super powerful! Thanks for sharing with us! :grinning:


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I actually found it was the 3rd time I got the most benefit from.

One bit I think is missing from the mental toughness program is refocusing between intervals.

As an example I might be super focussed for the warm up in Nine Hammers but in the short period between hammer 8 and 9 I’m not focussed on anything but recovering from 8. It’s even worse in something like ‘hell hath no fury’ where the recovery from harder sub-intervals occurs at relatively high power levels. I think it’s HHNF anyway. My questions would be how do you regain focus quickly whilst still going quite hard, particularly in real life where staring at a point on your handlebars would result in a crash?

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I try and think positively and not negatively.

I would suggest trying to focus on the body and noticing the slight decrease in effort on the “rest” intervals. You’ll have to find some cues that work for you, but noticing things like if your breath is slowing down a little and getting really curious about how it feels to have your breath slow down. You could try counting your breaths per minute. Maybe focusing on relaxing your quads on every exhale so you can enjoy a little less tension at a slightly lower wattage. You could try something simple like smiling and seeing how that shows up in your body. Another suggestion is taking the recovery interval to be proud of what you just did in the last interval. You could also use the “rest” interval to start a visualization for the next hard interval or even just visualize what it would feel like to handle a surge in the pack or to pass someone on a trail and then to back off the pace a little but still have to maintain power.

Hope that helps!


Using the positive thinking from the Mental Training got me through the 20 minutes of the Full Frontal yesterday.