I have recently watched the doco Closer to the Edge tt, which follows the infamous Isle of Mann motorbike race.
Apart from the breath taking and often hard to watch high speed racing scenes, what I found amazing was the riders ability to obtain a laser point mental focus.
Hitting speeds upward of 200 km/h through narrow streets and tight corners the riders need to have precision focus to 1) stay alive and 2) post their best possible performance. Even after having to re-start the race following a crash resulting in the death of a fallow rider they still stepped up to the start line and performed at their best.
I think all athletes can learn from this ability to focus when the pressure is on. Being able to channel 100% of your mental and physical energy into what you are doing at that exact moment, is a skill that all of the greatest athletes have whether they are motorbike races, basketballers, cyclists, triathletes or mulitsporters.
Athletes often focus on negative aspects that they have no control over such as the weather conditions, their competitors or how much they are suffering. Then as a result of focusing on these negative aspects, they end up performing worse. There is a saying "Energy flows, where attention goes'. Meaning that if you focus on the negative, things will become more negative. Focus on the positive and things tend to become more positive. While this is a skill that does not always come naturally, just like your physical performance this mental aspect can be trained. Athletes sometimes find it hard to know WHAT to focus on or where to begin with developing mental focus.
A good starting point is to sit down and outline the important aspects of your competition. Depending on your race, things such as nutrition, hydration, pacing, racing lines, drafting, technique, route choice, next transition etc are important points to focus on. Working through these aspects you can develop a 'mental plan' that allows you to refer back to when the going gets tough or the pressure comes on. Developing this mental check list that you can run through will allow you to more easily shift your focus on the positive things you can start aiding your performance.
So take some time, sit down and start developing your mental race plan.