Mark Cavendish: Motivation, Mountains And Mind Over Matter

One of the fastest sprinters of his generation, Mark Cavendish is preparing for another crack at the big one - the 2014 Tour de France. We checked in on his progress 

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Training-wise, I don’t have an extreme plan I stick to. I know what I have to do, I know the goal. But it's not really structured. That’s the beauty of road cycling. It all depends on the conditions on the day and where you are in the world.

Nutrition plan? Any athlete in any sport who says they stick to this super strict diet is either lying or sick. Some cyclists get obsessed with it, but it's not healthy – they're not enjoying their lives. My nutritionist came in before the Olympics, but I think that’s the only time I’ve been fully regimented with food. 

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But my job is to perform on a bike. If I’m not fuelling my body, I’m not doing my job. Now I’ve got Tour de France preparation, I’m not going to put something in my body that’s going to make me perform worse. But you’ve got to strike a balance. 

When I was younger, I didn’t really train for the sprint – I trained to get over the mountains. I have to train it now I’m getting older. But the sprint is more born, rather than made.

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I get in the zone by visualising the race. Sports psychologists will try and teach it, but I’ve done it my whole life anyway. When I was a kid I wasn’t out riding the roads around the Isle of Man, I was imagining riding the roads I’d seen on telly. I still do that now.

I don’t listen to any music when I train – I do it outdoors, and I’m not a fan of iPods on bikes.

To improve at cycling, amateurs need to train consistently. So long as you’re not doing a week on, a week off, you'll improve. Twenty minutes a day is fine for basic fitness, so long as you keep it up most days.

It’s good to see the influx of new cycle wear brands. I’m good friends with the guys at Rapha and I’ve seen their Spring lines – it's great it's moving away from that niche, yellow lycra thing. 

The way I dig in to push myself through mountain climbs is totally psychological. I’m not designed to do that stuff. It's mind over matter. When I was at Sky, the year Brad won the tour, the sports scientist said to me: "I find it harder to understand how you finish the tour, than how Brad wins the tour."

It's the motivation of when you win that gets you through the hard bits. If I know there’s a sprint coming the day after, then I can get over it. Maybe it’s a bit masochistic, but you get something from it.

The Isle Of Man is my favourite place to ride. It's windy, it rains, but I love it, because I can go back and train with the same guys I grew up with.  

I don’t see any signs of British cycling slowing down – I think we’re the most powerful nation in the world at it right now. No one would have thought that would happen even five years ago. We’re quite a way off being a cycling dependent country like Holland, but its popularity is only going to go up. 

I didn't start cycling because it was what everyone else was doing, but to see it grow to this level, and to think I maybe had a little something to do with it, is great. 

Pro-cyclist Mark Cavendish enjoys American Pistachios as his official snack. He includes nutritious whole foods such as pistachios as part of a healthy diet to help fuel athletic performance and aid muscle recovery. Visit americanpistachios.co.uk for more information.

 

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