Kate Courtney seen at UCI XCO World Cup in Snowshoe, USA on July 31, 2022
© Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Why Kate Courtney’s persistent mindset is her greatest mental strength

On the latest episode of Mind Set Win, the American mountain biker explains how persistence pushed her from fun tandem rides with her dad all the way to world championship glory.
By Thomas Peeters
4 min readPublished on
Throughout Kate Courtney’s appearance on the Mind Set Win podcast, we get an intimate glimpse into the mindset of an elite world champion.
Labelled ‘the foundation of everything’ by host Cédric Dumont, persistence has been crucial to the 27-year-old’s career at the sharp end of cross-country mountain bike racing.
Whether dedicating herself to a daily habit, staying motivated over a long training block or doing mental math during races, Courtney’s winning mindset is something we can all learn from.
Listen to the podcast in full below and discover a practical exercise aimed at helping you nurture new levels of persistence:
Read on to learn just a few of the highlights from a fascinating episode, and don't forget that moving forward, Courtney will also be hosting new episodes of Mind Set Win!

Embrace both mental and physical fitness

“I think my greatest mental strength is persistence,” Courtney says. “Endurance sports are not just about physically pushing through, it’s about mentally being able to stay focused, motivated and positive over the long haul.”
One of the key ingredients to Courtney's huge success is being dedicated both mentally and physically to doing whatever it takes to make small gains. It's this persistent mindset day in and day out that's helped push her to many memorable achievements.
In 2018, at her very first World Championship race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, she stunned the bike world by claiming cross-country gold at the age of 22 before backing it up the following year by being crowned the UCI World Cup overall XCO winner.

Find a mantra that works for you

Kate Courtney performs at UCI XCC World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on September 02, 2022.

Adopting a personal mantra has helped Courtney remain focused in races

© Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Over the course of a UCI season, Courtney adopts a mantra at each race to help her focus on her target and keep referring to it when the going gets tough.
Repeating meaningful words or phrases that she really believes in has made all the difference when facing an inner battle trying to achieve her goals.
“My favourite mantra from last year was ‘accept and commit’. It was about accepting the uncontrollability, and the uncertainty, which I think was a huge challenge for me during the pandemic and committing to the moment, winning that little inner battle of will I push to the edge?”

Commit to a habit

Kate Courtney

Kate Courtney

© Paris Gore / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s not just when furiously hammering the pedals on race day that Courtney shows a persistent mindset. It’s present in all areas of her life.
Committing to a daily habit aids progression by building discipline and consistency, and for Courtney, never missing more than one day of meditation is a vital part of her routine. She also explains that when one session is unavoidably skipped, not quitting and instantly sticking to your structure the following day is important.
Courtney says: “Yes, motivation is part of my job, but I think structure and defining ways to set yourself up for success goes much, much farther.”

Focus on small incremental gains

Courtney describes how one of the ways she utilises her ability to persist during a race is by calculating how many kilometres are left until the finish line, which in turn enables her to compute how many minutes she needs to remain at a certain power or speed.
Focusing on what she needs to do in the short term brings her clarity and allows her to remain positive in moments when the race could be won or lost.
“It ties back to the theme of being able to persist,” Courtney says. “It's not always some huge inspirational speech and motivation. It's often just calculating what has to be done and finding ways to push through it and stay positive and stay focused.”
Find out more – including simple exercises to do at home – in Mind Set Win.

Part of this story

Kate Courtney

With a cross-country World Championship and overall World Cup already in the bag, Kate Courtney is on the fast track to becoming one of the sport's greats.

United StatesUnited States

Cédric Dumont

A vastly experienced skydiver and BASE jumper, Belgium's Cédric Dumont is always travelling the world in search of new adventures.