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Podcast: Ciaran King | How To Create High Performance In Your Life And On The Bike

On today's episode, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ciaran King, an elite Downhill Mountain Biker turned Certified High-Performance coach.

Ciaran's journey has been marked by challenges, including significant injuries and confidence battles. Yet, he's transformed these obstacles into sources of motivation.

Now, he's committed to passing on his hard-earned insights to the next generation of riders. With a keen focus on promoting positive mental health and performance in mountain biking, Ciaran not only shares his experiences but also offers actionable tools and guidance to help you reach your peak performance.

During the conversation, we touch on:

• How to get clear and intentional with your riding

• How to set and keep track of goals

• Managing focus and strategies for re-focusing

• Building self-belief and confidence

• Strategies for mental performance on race day

Join us as we delve into Ciaran's inspiring story and learn practical strategies we can all adopt to enhance our mindset for riding.

You can follow along with Ciaran's racing journey @ciaranking12 on Instagram, and check out his coaching @peakin_high_performance.

Listen here or by searching for ‘Grit with Wisdom’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Youtube, or over on my website, and you can follow me on Instagram @the_mind_mountain

Happy trails - Jake Johnstone FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: Welcome to Grit With Wisdom. This is the podcast that delves deep into the inner psyche of mountain bikers from all aspects of our sport in order to discover the tools and the tactics that can help us Have more fun out on the trails more often. Our aim here is to help you understand what it takes to push our own personal boundaries in the sport we love from a mental and emotional perspective.


Jake Johnstone: Today on the podcast, I get to sit down with Ciaran King, who is an elite downhill mountain biker, and also a certified high performance coach. Ciaran's journey has been anything but smooth sailing, facing injuries, and confidence hurdles along the way.

He's turned those challenges into fuel for his fire now, and these days he's dedicated to sharing this [00:01:00] hard earned wisdom with the next generation of mountain bike racers. With a strong focus on promoting positive mental health in mountain biking, Ciaran not only Talks the talk, but also provides actionable tools and advice to help you reach your peak performance on the bike.

So I'm super excited to dig into Ciaran's story today and to flesh out some of the practical tools that we can all use to help our mindset in our riding. Ciaran, with no further ado, welcome to the 

Ciaran King: podcast. Awesome, glad to be here. I like that. Did I 

Jake Johnstone: miss anything there? Anything you'd like to add? Nah, it's all good.

Ciaran King: I liked it. 

Jake Johnstone: Fantastic, mate. Well, as people can probably see, we've just been out for some super fun, muddy laps at Skyline Bike Park here in Queenstown. Yeah, that was sick. Thanks for, uh, showing me how you do it, man. It's certainly a good time following you there, getting a little wild. Fun. Awesome. Well, I think a good place to start here would be, perhaps, to ask you if you could just tell us a little bit about who you are and when bikes first came into your life.

Ciaran King: Yeah, cool. So, like Jake said, my name's Ciaran [00:02:00] King. And I got into mountain biking when I was 8 years old. Uh, purely because for some reason I didn't want to ride a bike when I was younger. But my brothers used to race BMX, so it was in the family. I loved the thought of BMX, I never would actually ride it.

But one day I decided, screw it, I'm going to ride my bike. So I learned how to ride a bike. And then shortly after we went on holiday, uh, to the New Forest in England. And we were basically just cycling around campsites, going on little walking paths, coastal paths, which is basically mountain biking, and absolutely loved it.

Me and my brothers just thought it was awesome. And on the way home, my brother Steph, who actually lives in Pemberton, he bought a mountain bike magazine. And on the way home, we were just obsessing over it. Thought it was so cool. And then, uh, we decided to go mountain biking to a local spot called Cannock Chase, which is kind of like a cross country centre.

Uh, [00:03:00] and yeah, I just found it so good. I was on a really bad bike. We were all on really bad bikes, but we just absolutely loved it. And that's kind of how it all started, just, that's how, yeah, how we got into mountain biking. And then it just progressed from there onwards. Look at magazines, getting interested by downhill, and then slowly wanting to do more and more of that kind of stuff.

And I think I was about 12, I think, for some reason. My mum decided to let me book a holiday, so I decided, let's go to Les Gets. So I booked a holiday, and that's when we got onto downhill, and it was just the coolest holiday ever. Riding, well, Les Gets bike park, going up chairlifts, just all downhill. I hired a Commencal 24 inch Supreme, which was like the coolest bike ever, and yeah, just from there onward to the 6th.

Jake Johnstone: Wow, man, that's such a cool backstory. And what a rad mum, letting you 

Ciaran King: pick the holiday. I know, I don't 

Jake Johnstone: know what she was thinking. It sounds like a bit of a pivotal moment in [00:04:00] your journey. Uh, that maybe wouldn't have happened if she didn't let you choose a downhill mountain biking holiday. 

Ciaran King: Yeah, probably not.

Uh, definitely mountain biking still. It might have just slowed up the whole process, so. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: totally. And speaking of that process, did you find you were kind of picking up things pretty fast 

Ciaran King: No, definitely, I was never naturally very good. Like, some kids are amazing straight away. So, yeah, we rode cross country for ages and obviously didn't get a small amount of downhill and yeah, found it pretty challenging and But I didn't really know any better, I just followed my brothers and I was slower than my brothers, but they were older than me, so it's just kind of normal.

And, uh, yeah, at that time it was just having fun. But when we went to Les Gets, my mum booked me a mountain bike skills course. Not a course, just a lesson. And that was just, I couldn't believe how much my riding improved. So I couldn't keep up with my brothers, after that lesson I could keep up with them.

Anyway, and I was just Well, [00:05:00] to me, at that time, I was just shredded, having a great time. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, fantastic. So kind of seeing the power of skills coaching from a young age. Yeah, 

Ciaran King: yeah. Yeah, I had a massive improvement in my riding. And then, went home, and then that's when I kind of got into racing. Okay. So, I was actually riding my brother's Marron Quake downhill bike, which was a massive thing for myself.

Um, my first race, I think, I basically got laughed at. So I was like, Oh, no, not very good. And that wasn't really riding how I was out in the J and yeah, basically from then onwards, just practice and practice and was still, wasn't very good for a long time and just slowly got better and better, had big moments of improvements and had big crashes for take me back.

And we just like big improvements again, which I kept going at it. And then, um, personally for me, the biggest improvements were. Um, when I decided to go out to Whistler, and actually I came out to [00:06:00] Queenstown just about six years ago. Okay. And just that bike time and thinking about my riding and thinking about how to get better really, really helped.

Jake Johnstone: Quite, quite insightful for like a young guy to like come out and have that approach as well. You must have been what, like 18 or early 

Ciaran King: 20s? Yeah. Well I just, I've always loved sport and always liked getting better at it and that's the part. Fantastic. Just working out, okay how can I get better? Racing and riding my bike.

Yeah, yeah. And I find that so fun. 

Jake Johnstone: Sticking at it. Awesome. And how did you find that kind of, going and doing your first race and coming last and having that, I guess that thought you mentioned, they're like, oh, I'm not very good. Did that kind of fuel your fire or did you find that it 

Ciaran King: held you back? No, I think it fuelled my fire.

I think, I think I had quite a good mindset about it all. I'm pretty sure I was, well of course, I've never raced before. It's kind of acceptable I came last. And, uh, But I just had that urge, I just want to get better. So, I think that's what mostly fueled me, I just wanted to get better. Fantastic, yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: it sounds like a really strong [00:07:00] growth mindset from a young age.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess so. That's awesome, and I guess that kind of leads into what you're so passionate about and what you're doing for work these days. I'd love to dive straight into that, we might talk a little bit more about your, your racing and your backstory in a second. Um, but why don't we start?

Tell us about Peakin High Performance and what you're doing 

Ciaran King: there. Yeah, so Peakin High Performance is my, uh, coaching company. So the reason that I started peaking high performance was because I personally was struggling with my mindset and my mental game for raid riding and racing. And about five years ago, I knew it was a big problem of mine.

So I decided, okay, let's get some help. And I found a high performance coach. He was also a hyp hypnotherapist, and I had two sessions with him and it just blew me away. I couldn't believe how much effect it had on my. Mental well being, my mindset, day to day life, but also my racing and riding. And my first race, after those sessions, it was a bit of a disaster because [00:08:00] the weather made practice real short, I trapped my thumb in, I dodged my race run, but what I did was my mental preparation beforehand and the work we had done in those sessions.

So when I got to that race run, I'd never felt so good for a race run. And that, honestly, that moment, I was like, this is This is the best I've ever felt for a race run. I'm actually excited to go race and ride my bike. And, uh, ended up having, yeah, a pretty good result. Yeah, pretty good result at that time.

And then since then, just carried on more sessions with him. Reading books, developing my learning, applying it to my racing. A lot of trial and error. And then decided, okay, let's become a high performance coach myself. I saw how powerful it was on myself, but I wanted to help other riders, because I know so many people are so talented, but they just don't understand how to manage their mindset, their mental game.

And if they can have a bit of guidance, they can become [00:09:00] incredible riders, incredible athletes, incredible people. And that's kind of why I started it. And that was when I started it, it was about two years ago now. And since then, I've had some awesome, awesome clients, ranging from beginners to world cup athletes.

So, kind of athletes you might know of would be Ethan Craig and Amy Kenyon. Fantastic. And, uh, yeah, it's been so cool working with those two because they're top of their game and to learn from them and apply that to my coaching to other riders has been pretty awesome. 

Jake Johnstone: Fantastic, mate. Yeah, such a cool story of like learning, uh, about yourself and then also learning how to teach those skills to other people.

We were chatting a little bit on the gondola, weren't we, about how interesting it is kind of figuring it out, each rider's, each client's particular learning style. Yeah. And what kind of gets them going. Yeah. Awesome. So you're kind of dialing the clock back when you were first kind of having these mental struggles and thinking about, hey, I'd love to find someone who can help me.

What were some of the specific [00:10:00] things that you were finding most challenging? 

Ciaran King: Uh, so yeah, with my racing, I just get so nervous. I would get to a race run feeling sick, tired, and just not really up for it. I wanted to race, but it was definitely a struggle and I would never perform very well. I'd ride a lot better in practice or at home, but when it comes to that race, I'd never either deliver my performance or just crash.

And, uh, obviously I don't put a lot of time into it, so. I knew there was a big weakness in mine so I wanted to improve that. But then also just confidence. I just wouldn't push myself enough. I wouldn't, uh, ride hard enough stuff. I didn't have that self belief. And obviously that kind of affected my day to day life as well, so that was what I found so cool about five minutes coaching, is that it really benefited my riding, but also I was the most energised, confident, happy person I've ever been since then.

That was like pretty damn cool. [00:11:00] 


Jake Johnstone: And what were some of the first kind of lightbulb moments when you, you went into your first sessions with the high 

Ciaran King: performance coach? Uh, yeah, so probably lightbulb moments were, uh, I can control my mind, my thoughts, my beliefs, that I'm actually in control of my mind.

Because I think a lot of people just find, they wake up unhappy, they're unhappy. But it's actually, you know, you can generate the mindset, the thoughts, the beliefs you actually want. And then what was the other one, which was, okay, this is a really good teaching point for a lot of riders is that my nerves are actually excitement and to actually use your nerves to help benefit you for your racing and your riding.

So, you know, when you get those feelings or nerves, what's actually happening is your nervous system is getting ready to do something cool. It's just our mindset thinking, Oh my God, these are nerves. And you start to fight them. And that's why you feel really lethargic. If you go. Oh, my body's getting ready to do something cool.

Because it knows you're about to go for [00:12:00] a race or about to do a big jump. So you go, okay, it's getting ready to do something cool. You can use it and start turning it into excitement. And all of a sudden, if you start applying this to your racing and your riding, you'll notice, at that start gate, you're like, absolutely buzzing.

It's like, I am, my body's getting ready to do something cool. I am ready to go. This is awesome. And you'll feel, you're energized, you're buzzed, you're focused. And That was a massive turning point in my racing because all of a sudden I was at that start gate and I was like, this is sick. My body's ready to do something cool.

I practice all weekend. This isn't something to be nervous about, it's something to be excited about. 

Jake Johnstone: Fantastic. Yeah, so changing the meaning behind that feeling. 

Ciaran King: Yeah. I love that. Yeah, so that's something I teach all my clients and something that's had a massive, yeah, effect on them. It's 

Jake Johnstone: cool. Totally.

Yeah, that's really good advice for people listening just to think about. And I'm curious, like what does hypnotherapy look like when you're seeing a high performance coach specifically for mountain biking? I know there's a lot of like [00:13:00] stigma and perhaps ideas of what hypnotherapy looks 

Ciaran King: like. Yeah. Yes.

It was really cool. So, uh, that was another thing he did for me. So he, uh, he taught me about meditation and how to, the benefits of meditation that it will have on my mind, but also day to day, day to day life, but also my racing. And so he, Did some hypnotherapy with me. So he kind of took, took me through a meditative state, like basically like five minutes of meditation and then five minutes of, uh, kind of visualization.

So we discovered some, uh, a word that really resonates with me of how I want to be on the bike, like a real feeling I have. So for me, that is I'm flying. When I say I'm flying, I know what that feels like. It's something I always want to have when I go racing. So, in the visualization, we're kind of talking about that feeling that's, I'm imagining it, I'm feeling it, and then that just [00:14:00] slowly trains your subconscious, that's like, what you want.

So when I do go racing, I'm like, okay, I'm flying. I just know what that feels like, the feelings I want, how it looks, how it feels, and uh, yeah that's why that first race I had after, I was like, I'm ready. 

Jake Johnstone: That's such a cool, uh, cool backstory there and I'm curious. Do you feel like if you had have just tried like that same Thing on the trail it would have had the same effect because obviously you were off the trail when you were doing 

Ciaran King: this work, right?

yes, so It definitely would had yeah benefits for sure, especially the nerves and excitement part, but In that session. Yeah, we kind of really go dive deep into how am I as a person and work out Where the deep stuff and that's where the real growth is. Yeah, 

Jake Johnstone: You do a lot, a lot of work off the bike that has some really significant results on the bike.

Yeah. so maybe, yeah, it'd be cool to, talk about for the listeners here, like, what does this high performance mean for you and what are some of the [00:15:00] main pillars or main areas, 

Ciaran King: Yeah, so, high performance to me means about performing to your best ability. And, uh.

But, in all areas of your life. So, uh, as you can see a lot of high performers, the reason they're high performers is because they are achieving in all areas of their life. You get these high achievers who might be really good at their job, but they're not achieving in their home life, or their health, or their family life, and it's just not sustainable.

But high performers have managed to learn how to perform highly in all areas, which leads to You know, longevity, happiness, better performance. So that's kind of what I teach. I kind of look at it like you're racing as a holistic point of view. Look at all areas. And, uh, we've kind of broke that down into six sessions.

So the first session is on focal points. So we would discover, you know, where you're focused, what you're focused on and what goals you're striving for. [00:16:00] And then it kind of goes into what kind of level of control you have. over things in your life about, and what skills you have. And then we look into your habits, so the habits that are serving you, the ones that aren't, because a lot of people have bad habits, which are really having a negative effect on their day to day life, their racing and riding.

So we work out habits that can actually really help you animate your performance and, yeah, happiness. 

Jake Johnstone: While you're there, what are some common bad habits you'll see with athletes 

Ciaran King: coming in? Uh Probably a big bad habit which is, people are not really aware of is like negative self talk. People are so harsh on themselves.

Yeah. And even myself, I know I'm harsh on myself and I'm very aware of positive self talk and it still comes up every now and again. And yeah, people may put themselves down so much and you really should be your best friend, you should be your biggest cheerleader. Because If you go riding with a friend [00:17:00] and you do something cool, and they're like, Mate, that was sick!

You like, your confidence boosts, and you're like, Okay, that's cool, that's cool. But usually, when you do something cool, you usually criticise it, or you don't really acknowledge it. Mmm. So, you've done this really cool thing, and because you haven't acknowledged it, it hasn't really happened. You haven't really progressed from it.

So, by having the new habit of positive self talk, it can really, really help. Help with your mindset and, uh, riding. Yeah, awesome. 

Jake Johnstone: That's a great example. 

Ciaran King: So we're at habits. Oh yeah, sorry. I cut in there. Yeah, yeah. Session one and then session two, we look at clarity. So clarity is probably one of the most important sessions because that really looks at who you are as a person and what's important to you and who you want to be as a person.

And that's kind of like the foundation because If you don't know who you want to be, or where you want to go, or, uh, who you need to be to be your best self, [00:18:00] you're just going to be kind of going around the world and not really being that person. So, we'll help you discover your clarity words, which are kind of three words that define your best self, and they will really help, you know, guide you to being the person you want to be.

And, uh, they also have a massive effect on your confidence. On your, um, yeah, just on everything basically. Totally. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. Yeah, if you don't have that kind of direction or that end point where you'd like to head off and we'll just kind of wander around and then wonder why we don't get anywhere. 

Ciaran King: 100%. And like, a really good example is New Year's.

Everyone has a lot of clarity on New Year's because they think, Okay, this year I'm going to be my best self. I'm going to be really focused. Just go to the gym, going to do all this, and then the first few weeks, they're awesome. You're living your best life, and we all know how that feels. It's about, the problem is that [00:19:00] they stop seeking clarity, they stop thinking about what goals they want to do, how they want to be, and it kind of all just falls apart.

They go back to those bad habits and not being their best self. So, uh, yeah, seeking clarity is an actual skill, it's a habit. That you can develop and do every day, and that's, uh, something that can really help. 

Jake Johnstone: And translating that to riding, is that like, setting an objective before we go out for a ride, or having a different focus each 

Ciaran King: lap?

Yeah, for sure. So yeah, I call it, like, setting your intention. Fantastic. So, like, before you go riding, I would really encourage you to just think, Okay, what's my intention today? Like, how do I want to feel riding my bike? And also, what do I want to achieve? Once you work that out, okay, so how am I going to do it?

You're giving yourself that clarity, you have that goal, you have that focus. So when you go riding, like, you won't be riding around aimlessly. You've got this focus. And, for some people it [00:20:00] sounds quite serious. But, it's only serious if you make it serious. So, setting intention can be also about having fun.

So, today's ride. You know, we could, our intention could be, okay, let's just have fun. I don't care about going fast, I don't care about good technique, I just want to have fun. If you set that intention, you will go ride your bike with this mindset of, okay, I'm going to have fun. So you'll be doing whips and jumps, doing cool lines, be laughing, and you won't be getting caught up in that little stuff and affecting your ride.

Jake Johnstone: Totally, yeah, and I find, we were chatting about this at the cafe before, the importance of intention. I find for me, if I've got a focus and I've got something I'm thinking of, even if it is as simple as be playful, have fun, that's what's going over and over in my mind as I'm riding and I'm far less likely to get distracted by thoughts of slippery routes or fear or 

Ciaran King: self doubt and things like this.

Yeah, awesome. Yeah, so like, being playful on a bike, that's kind of like something, if you know, really helps you ride your best. [00:21:00] So, it kind of brings you back to that process, and like you said, that stops you from thinking about the roots, which is like, takes your focus away from your riding, doesn't it? So you end up thinking about that outcome, but you have that intention, okay, I'm going to be playful on a bike, that's something that really brings you to that present moment and really helps you to ride your best, and just by setting that intention, you'll have a Yeah, massive effect on your riding.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, fantastic. And you mentioned some clarity words there. Yeah. How do you go about finding those for each individual 

Ciaran King: rider? Oh, uh, Alright, well we'll do the Am I skipping 

Jake Johnstone: around here? If you're going to talk about it later, that's fine. 

Ciaran King: No, no, we can do, uh, we can do, I wasn't too sure how to do it, but we'll go for it.

Haha. Okay, cool, so we're going to do, um, We'll discover your clarity words. So, clarity words are three words that define your best self when riding your bike. And to do this, we're going to do a little bit of visualisation, a bit of breath work, and, uh, it's going to really help you [00:22:00] discover those clarity words.

Sounds good? Fantastic, yeah, I'm excited. Awesome. Okay, so, if you're listening, uh, and you can, close your eyes. If you can't, if you're driving, just keep them open. You can still do the, the exercise. So, yeah, if you just close your eyes now, and now you've removed your visual stimulus off me. I want you to go internally into your mind, and just really observe those thoughts, and understand that you can react to those thoughts, or you can be the silent observer.

Really just calm your mind, and I want you to direct your focus to your breath. So I want you to take a deep breath in through your nose,

and a deep breath out.

A deep breath in.

And [00:23:00] a deep 

Jake Johnstone: breath out.

A deep breath 

Ciaran King: in.

And a deep breath 

Jake Johnstone: out.

Ciaran King: And now I want you to take your mind back to a time you were riding your best. The best you ever felt on your bike. This might have been at a race, last time you were riding, or at your local track. And I want you to really feel it. How were you riding? How did you feel? Were you energised? Were you confident?

Were you daring? Were you joyful? Really feel those emotions. How did you feel when you were riding your bike to your best ability?

And when you got that, when you can feel those emotions, I [00:24:00] want you to scour your three clarity words and pick three words that define your best self. What three words come to mind? Yeah, interesting. 

Jake Johnstone: I've done similar things before but had different words, so that's really interesting for me. Today what's popping up, I'm thinking back to a ride, an awesome ride I had here at Skyline last week.

Yeah. Riding some new trails that really pushed me, um, with some new people who were really pushing me as well. In that moment, thinking back to that, I was feeling relaxed yet strong. Yeah, yeah. Kind of going from being calm to strong when I needed to. And also quite certain, just like, really believing in myself Not feeling any of that self doubt that I sometimes feel.

So, they'd be the three. Certain, relaxed, and strong. 

Ciaran King: Certain, relaxed, and strong. Yeah. Awesome. So those are three words to find your best self when you go riding. So now, go back to that set of intention. When you go riding, before you run, you go, Okay, I want to be assertive, assertive? No, certain, [00:25:00] strong, and relaxed.

That is my goal in this run. Because if I'm those three things, I know I'm gonna ride my bike my best and then this like simplifies your riding massively and it also gives you a lot of control and Confidence because you you know, you can be those things and this massively helps when you're racing or maybe doing a really hard feature because It just brings you back to that present moment Okay for me to win this race or do my best all I gotta do is be relaxed certain and strong sick, like how empowering is that?

Cause you know, if you are those three things, you can be your best self. You're going to ride your bike as fast as you can. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. That's a fantastic process to go through. And I do. I love the simplicity of it because you're not telling me to think about 10 different things or stop midway through the run and do some breath work or anything like that.

It's three words. Yeah. Yeah. That's all I need 

Ciaran King: to do. That's so easy to remember. So if you're riding in like [00:26:00] actual in the. In the zone riding and you're not riding very well, you can be like, okay, be relaxed, you know, just relax or Okay, strong position or it can be okay. Let's be certain. Mm hmm Or if you're you are riding and you've done a run not riding good you can seek that clarity Okay, so how can I be my best self?

How can be my clarity words? Okay. Yeah, I am NOT relaxed. I get stressed out. I'm being negative. Okay, how can I be more relaxed? Okay, do a bit of breath work It's kind of my nervous system and yeah, it's now arriving intention to be relaxed when I'm riding or it could be, oh yeah, it's not being strong. I'm not riding that strong position.

I'm not being strong mentally. Don't have that confidence. Okay. It's generate those feelings and start being strong on the bike. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. Fantastic. Yeah. That's really cool. I can't wait to use those words next time 

Ciaran King: I'm riding. Yeah. Awesome. And yeah, listeners honestly use them. That's so, so useful. One of my, yeah, World Cup [00:27:00] riders is literally all he's thinking about before his race run and since he's been doing that, he's been getting some good results.

Jake Johnstone: It's so cool to hear to have that, uh, I guess that proof there as well, like the proofs in the results. 

Ciaran King: Yeah, yeah. With racing. Yeah. So like, I guess that's what's really cool about, uh, my coaching is that I honestly apply everything I teach the clients to my own racing. And like, since I've been doing coaching myself, My results have just gotten way better.

I was an average senior rider, and I turned that into becoming an elite rider, winning races, and I'm not at the top of an elite rider, but, you know, I'm slowly getting there, working on it, and I've had some hard times, but luckily all the work I'm doing is getting better and better. Now having athletes who I work with to see them apply everything I'm coaching them, and seeing it work.

That's pretty awesome. 

Jake Johnstone: Mate, that's fantastic. And I think we got up to session three there, didn't we, with the certainty. What are the, the 

Ciaran King: [00:28:00] other couple of sessions? Oh yeah. Uh, so session three is energy. So we look at, uh, yeah, how energized you feel, your energy levels. Because to be a high performer takes a lot of energy.

Like, if you want to go achieve your goals, or you want to be just your best self, that takes a lot of energy. So it's understanding that, you know, Your energy that you can generate the energy you want, you know, it's like a power plant You don't just have energy you generate it and to have that understanding.

It's like, okay I'm feeling a bit down today. Not really and not very Energized a lot of people go. Okay. I'm just not having a good day, but that's not the case. Okay. Okay Let's do some good habits. Let's generate the energy that I want and you can go and be start being your best self again and That does sound like a lot of effort, but if you think about it, being your best self feels pretty damn good, so it's definitely worth it.

[00:29:00] Um, but also look into, uh, you know, the things like taking your energy away from you, uh, negative emotions, because obviously that has a big effect on your energy levels, but also having positive, positive emotions, because that lifts us up loads. So that's kind of session three. And then session four is looking at courage, so how to be your most courageous self, have that self belief in yourself, to go ride scary stuff, to, yeah, sit on that start line and believe that you can go and do it.

Uh, yeah, so we look at that and understanding that courage, it's a skill, you can demonstrate courage, you can build up being more courageous. And, um, yeah, so that's session four. Awesome. Session five is mindset. So it really looks into your thoughts, your beliefs, the ones that are pushing you forward, the ones that are holding you back.

And, yeah, this is a really important session because, you know, we tell ourselves stories all the time that really hold us back. And a lot of the time [00:30:00] they're not even true, they're just these stories we've made up and these negative beliefs. So it's about, uh, yeah, acknowledging them and changing them to beliefs that actually are helpful to you.

So that's session five, and then session six is performance, so we look at how to basically look at all the sessions as one and apply everything we've talked about, all the things you discovered to applying it to your racing, to your riding, to your day to day life so you can perform consistently and be your best self.

Jake Johnstone: It sounds like a great, great curriculum that you've fleshed out there. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. And pretty cool. I know we're chatting a little bit about this on the gondola, but there's perhaps not a lot of resources already out there for high performance in mountain biking specifically. Um, so you've gone out and got yourself a high performance certification as a coach, but then you've had to use your own experiences and your experiences with athletes to kind of make that [00:31:00] mountain biking specific, right?


Ciaran King: Yeah. Yeah. So like, yeah, my high performance training, yeah, it's all about, uh, high performing with athletes of business, business people with a day to day normal people as well. And they will have these things in common and the sessions are kind of built around all of those. And I've applied that learning, that research, the sessions to mountain biking.

So rather than having 12 sessions, we broke it down into six sessions. So it's much more pliable and, uh, it's only really like, uh, the World Cup riders, you get the 12 sessions because that's when we're going to real deep stuff. Awesome. Yeah. But, uh, yeah, at the moment, the advanced mountain bike course is just a six sessions.

Jake Johnstone: That's great. And are you giving, uh, your students kind of homework on the trails to do in between or specific exercises? Yeah. 

Ciaran King: Yeah. Everyone gets homework. Yeah. So we actually get worksheets. So you get your session. And then I send you an email summary, so you can carry on that [00:32:00] learning, recap. But yeah, you get worksheets, so you can carry on your learning.

And, uh, I often, I love to set people challenges. So especially with habits, people are like, Oh yeah, I'd love to start meditating. And I'm like, cool. Start doing it then. I challenge you for 30 days to meditate every day. And you see their faces like, oh, okay. But when they do it, and I hold them accountable to it.

And then 30 days later, they're doing meditating and they got this, all these benefits from it, the feeling of the best they have. And yeah, that's pretty cool. That's awesome. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. That having that accountability is just so, so helpful because we've all got goals that we say we'd like to do, but actually getting them done and sticking to it as a whole nother thing, isn't 

Ciaran King: it?

Yeah. Yeah. And like, yeah, I really want to, with my clients, I really want to help them. So, you know, when I have a session, I really go into it. So. I know exactly what your goals are, I know what your clarity words are. So when you come to a session, I'm like, Oh yeah, what about this thing? [00:33:00] And you're like, Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

Yeah. Come on. Fantastic. Let's get back to 

Jake Johnstone: Hello everyone, and thanks for listening. If you're enjoying the podcast, don't forget to give it a like, give it a subscribe. And if you'd like to know more about my journey in mountain biking and my background as a mountain bike coach, check out episode number 29 where I dive a little bit deeper into that.

Now let's get right back to the podcast.

 you mentioned before courage in one of your sessions. Uh, and it kind of sparked a question in my mind. You know, a lot of the mountain bikers I come across and I talk to, we're dealing with perhaps, Lack of confidence, feeling nervous, feeling fearful when they're riding.

So when it comes to perhaps building up some more courage, where do we [00:34:00] start? 

Ciaran King: Where do we start? Uh, Yeah, I guess that kind of goes back to the core principle, like seeking clarity, so understanding that the rider you want to be, and the person you want to be. And, you know, a lot of people, they wouldn't say, I want to be a nervous person.

They often, like, I want to be a courageous person. It's having that belief and understanding, okay, that's who I want to be, okay, let's go and be that person. So when you come to something that is scary, your brain obviously wants to protect you all the time. So it goes into this protective zone, emotional, uh, thinking, and it goes, okay, I don't want to do that, I want to stay safe.

Because when you have a strong belief about the person you actually want to be, you can override it with, okay, actually. At my best, I am someone who faces challenges. I am someone who rides steep sections or rides big jumps. And then you have, like, this belief behind it, and then that will really [00:35:00] help you, uh,

Tackle those fearful situations and yeah, help manage them. Awesome. So yeah, a lot of work on self belief, uh, and putting like that strong foundation down before we go and try and build confidence. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And, um, like you said, self belief is massively linked to self talk. Like I said earlier.

A lot of people have negative self talk, or tell themselves stories which aren't actually true, and these negative beliefs. So, uh, you know, you might have someone saying, oh, I'm not good at drops. Or, and they keep telling themselves this, and we spoke about it before, like, if you just keep telling yourself that, you're not going to be good at drops, and you're not going to have the competence to think you can get better.

So it's about changing that belief, to think, okay, I'm going to get better at drops, or, you know. Or understanding that every time you come to a drop, it's a new [00:36:00] opportunity and you can grow, you can get better. Yeah. To not let those past experiences hold you back. Like I haven't done this drop yet. Yeah.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. That is Not as good as I'd like to be at drops yet. Yes. Yeah. So that's something I love to put Okay. Tell people is apply yet to everything. Awesome. So yeah, if we want to build confidence, perhaps going back to what are my thoughts? What's my language like? And perhaps changing some of those to start with to start building that self belief.

Yeah, definitely. And yeah, being really mindful of your own thoughts. Uh, yes, having that mental awareness is really important because you'd be going up to a drop and you'd be telling yourself these things and you're not very aware of how much of an effect it is having on you. Yeah. And once you become aware of those mental, uh, mental beliefs, you can start, uh, breaking them down.

Ciaran King: Finding out that they're not actually true and replacing them with thoughts that actually are important, are going to help you. Yeah. So, a good little [00:37:00] framework is called, uh, RWID, which is Relative Weight of Importance and Duration. Okay. So basically, the more importance, the more time we put attention to a thought, the more real it becomes.

So, if you look at a technical section and you start to look at a route and you go, oh my god I'm going to slip out on that route, you either have a choice to go, actually that's not true, or you have a choice to go, oh my god, that's going to happen, and you start thinking about it and all of a sudden you've built up this belief that you're going to slip on that route, your focus goes to it, you go ride it because you're focused on it and you believe you're going to slip on that route.

It happens. Yeah, we've all been there. Yeah, that was so easy because remember our brains are designed to protect us. So Yeah, then Another way to help with confidence and being more courageous Could be [00:38:00] We spoke about it before And I think pretty sure you coach a lot your clients of this is breathwork.

Yeah, it's understanding that The best way to calm your nervous system is with breath work. And it's as simple as just taking one deep breath. It's pretty hard to be stressed and nervous when you're 

Jake Johnstone: breathing. Totally, yeah. I do use that tool a lot myself as well, and I find even just the point of like taking your focus off the route, or off whatever it is that's distracting you, and thinking consciously about breathing can be great as well.

Yeah, yeah. And that brings you back to that present moment. Into your riding, away from. What might happen. Yeah, I find that's always like first point of call for me and the clients I'm working with. It's like get the breathing back under control, calm the nervous system. And then it's like, right, well, what was my plan?

What was I trying to do before this ride went south? And it's a great way to refocus. Yeah. Cause your emotional brain's going crazy and you just need to take that deep breath, calm it and let your [00:39:00] logical human brain start thinking again. Fantastic, mate. And for you and the clients you're working with, how important is the post ride reflection process?

Ciaran King: Yeah, so important. So, like I spoke earlier about setting intention, you also need to reflect. Because, you know, you've just been riding and you've just learnt loads of things. So it's about reflecting and working out, okay, what did I do well? Okay, cool. I rode corners really well today. Sick. Uh, what, didn't go quite so well today.

Okay, yeah, my root sections weren't so well. Didn't go so well. What did I learn? Okay, I need to set up better for root sections or look ahead. So you're just learning from your experiences rather than just going riding and just finishing up at that. When you reflect, you learn, you grow, and you'll start to see, and you become this, makes this a habit.

You'll start to see your riding starts progressing more and more. And, uh [00:40:00] Yeah, with this, a lot of, like, a lot of people do reflect, but it's always in a negative manner. Yeah. All the things that have gone wrong. I find that as well. So often, myself and riders, we'll ignore all the good things we did in a ride.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah. And there might be hundreds of them, and we'll focus on just like the one bad thing, the one corner we messed up. Yeah. It's crazy, isn't it? Yeah, a really good high performance habit, what I love to teach, is to focus on your positives first, and then your negatives. Because, like you said, you do a run, you made one mistake, and all of a sudden it's like the worst run ever, but you're totally forgetting all the things you did well.

Ciaran King: And often when we get to a run, just finish a run, you start thinking negatively, and in that emotional state, you're like, oh my god, I did that corner rubbish, and then all of a sudden you're like, I suck at corners, and then you go, next run, less confidence in corners. So, when you focus on those positives first, you might [00:41:00] realise, actually, I did ten other corners really well.

Okay, cool. I mean, when you address that corner you did negatively, badly, you have this confidence, this belief, actually, did ten corners well before, I'm pretty sure I can work this one out. Yeah. So next run, I can do it. So it's not necessarily in like what you're doing, you are allowed to think about the things that you did wrong or the things you'd like to get better at, but it sounds like it's how, how you go about reflecting on it rather than like, I suck at corner and it's like, Hey, I messed up that corner.

Jake Johnstone: How can I do it better next time? Yeah. So yeah, the reason I go positive first, cause it makes it a bit less emotional. You can think about it a bit more logically and yeah, it puts you in a better, uh, mindset as well. So you focus on the good things you've done well. It puts you in a bit more confidence, a bit more reassured, and then you can address those negatives and you can, rather than react to them emotionally and not very well, you can apply that growth mindset, like, okay, cool, I'm not good at that corner, how can I [00:42:00] get better?

Ciaran King: Yeah, fantastic. Yeah. Yeah, I find it really good as well. It's like, it's a really good challenge for anyone listening. Next time you're reflecting on a ride, try and think of three things that went well first, before you allow yourself to think of whatever might not have gone as well. No, honestly, that's such a good challenge.

It is hard. Like, it almost breaks the habit of automatically going to like, Ah, I messed up that drop. I messed up that corner. Yeah, yeah. And instead you do the habit of like, Well, these three things were pretty good. Yeah, for sure. I'll get better at this. Yeah, so apply that to your riding, and apply it to your day to day life, you know.

If you get home from work, and your partner, friend, or family member goes, How was work? Usually you go, It was rubbish. This happened, this happened. I encourage you to go, Yeah, I had a really good chat with my boss today. Or, Sold this thing today. Do those first. And then we've still got to get those negatives off our mind.

So, express them. But start focusing on those positives first. And you'll start to see Your mindset starts improving because you [00:43:00] start seeing things in more of a positive outlook and, yeah. Yeah, I love that mate. Really, really cool stuff. It's so cool, um, just seeing all the interconnections between like life outside of biking, but also it's exciting when we start thinking about how that can improve our performance on the bike.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, yeah, it's awesome. Yeah. uh, you've got lots of racing experience here, had some really good races, had some perhaps Races that didn't go as well as planned, uh, but I'm curious, like, how does your mindset change when you go into that race environment versus just like, riding for fun like we were today?

Ciaran King: Ooh, uh, how's my mindset change? Uh 

Jake Johnstone: Is there like, things you're doing different before you perhaps get to the trails those days, or is your intention, is it different? Uh Perhaps it's not different 

Ciaran King: at all. No, I try to make it pretty similar, like Like I spoke about earlier, I always set my intention for my run.

I always think about my clarity words. So, today's ride, when I put my goggles on, [00:44:00] I'm thinking about my clarity words. That's a trigger for me, every time I put my goggles on, clarity words. And also, each run, set my intention. Uh, I guess just with racing, I'm even more intentional with this kind of stuff. I really thought about, yeah, thought, really think about it.

And, uh, put a bit more time to it. And, uh,

 just focused in, in general, really, like really preparing my body, my mind to go ride my bike fast and get into that mindset. And yeah, just put a bit more time to it because it's hard when we just go out riding for fun to prioritize that time. So I just have habits, which I can do nice and quickly, like the clarity word.

And little things, like I have a little, uh, like riding journal before, like my intentions, stuff like that, down, which I also do for racing, uh, so just having kind of things in place which are very similar, but yeah, when it comes to racing, I put a bit more time into it. 

Jake Johnstone: Awesome. Yeah, that's really cool to [00:45:00] hear that you're practicing these habits on the day to day as well.

Yeah. It makes perfect sense that if you want to. Use those tools on race day that you should be practicing them in your regular riding Just like we do with the physical skills and technical skills. Yeah, no, definitely 

Ciaran King: like yeah You should definitely practice it when you go riding. But what's also cool about Setting intention or clarity words is that you can apply that day to day life.

So before this session This podcast, you know, okay. How can I be my best self right now? Okay, I need to be confident. I need to be present. I need to be Yeah, joyful as well, like, and that's my intention. And the more I do that, when I come to those stressful situations, like racing, I have a skill, I have a knowledge, I have experience to apply that to my racing.


Jake Johnstone: Speaking of stressful situations, races I know can be incredibly stressful and sometimes I find like the vibe there to be like this kind of nervous, tense [00:46:00] energy. Do you have any tips for people listening for perhaps not taking on board other people's energy or certain environment's energy that may not be helping their performance?

Ciaran King: Yeah, yeah. Uh, simple question. Ask yourself, does this help me? Does this serve me right now? So, we might be at a race, and you might be complaining about a line, or just saying how nervous you are. And, I'm not saying ignore you, because that's just not the person, like, the person I would like to be. So, I still listen to you, but I have that awareness, like, what you say does not reflect how I feel.

Just having that mental awareness, and it is quite hard to do, because if you're saying you're nervous about a corner. It's very easy for me to get nervous. It's just having an understanding, okay. What Jake's saying, that does not help me in any way. Does not serve me. You know, I'm in charge of my own thoughts.

So let's keep it that way. 

Jake Johnstone: I like that. So yeah, like [00:47:00] Jake's nervous about the corner. But how do I feel about it? And perhaps 

Ciaran King: you're fine. Yeah, yeah, and uh, Also understanding that, uh, People's energy, people's mood Is contagious. So be very aware of that, you know, try not to surround yourself with negative people.

Try and surround yourself with positive people, people who are similar to you. But obviously that's not always the case. Um, so it's about, yeah, being that person, having that, being that influential person on them. So if they're being negative, okay, be your best energised positive self. Okay, like, don't let them define who you are.

You are who you are. And that's why seeking clarity is so important, because you have a real understanding of who you are and you're not allowing other people to affect that. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, I like that. You said there, like, energy is contagious, so it's like, it doesn't have to go downhill. You could be the vibrant, excited person that [00:48:00] perhaps gives a little bit of that energy to the other people at the 

Ciaran King: race.

Yeah, yeah. Just having that mindfulness, that mental awareness, understanding how you're feeling, what thoughts you're having. Okay, no, I want to generate the ones I want. 

Jake Johnstone: Awesome, mate. You mentioned something there that I'd love to dig into. You were saying when you put your goggles on this morning, that was your trigger.

Quite often the word triggers used in like a negative concept of like, Oh, that really triggered me. What Ciaran said really triggered me. But how, yeah, how do you use triggers in a positive way? Yeah. 

Ciaran King: So yeah, why I think of a trigger is a trigger is something that triggers my mind to think in a certain way.

So. For me, putting my goggles on triggers me to think about my clarity words, about how I want to feel and ride on my bike. So, a lot of people may like that one because it's quite a cool one to do. Like, whoosh, in that zone. Um, but for like an enduro rider, it could be, or any other rider, like when you clip into your [00:49:00] bike, when you get your hands on your handlebar, or when you put your seat post up or down.

It's about having these triggers that triggers you to think in a certain way. Uh, so yeah, enduro rider, do a run, as soon as that seat post goes up, okay, trigger is to think about their run and how they can improve and what went well, that kind of stuff. Great. 

Jake Johnstone: So how do we, if I decide like, I'm going to, yeah, I'm going to use stretching my chin as my trigger.

How do I go about setting that in place and starting that process? 

Ciaran King: Uh, yeah, just being aware of it, I guess. Okay. Setting that intention. Okay. This is going to be my trigger to think in a certain way. And it just takes practice and being aware. So, each day, like we spoke about, reflecting. You know, after you're riding, Okay, how was my trigger?

I touched my chin. Oh yeah, I only did it on two or three runs. Okay, how can I improve that? Okay, set that intention. When I'm in the [00:50:00] gondola, or in the uplift, or before I go riding, practice my trigger. And then slowly it becomes a habit, and you start implementing it more and more. So, like, my goggles, obviously sometimes I do forget, but because it's something I do practice, it's becoming more and more natural.

It's just 

Jake Johnstone: something I do. Yeah, and I like that one. That's a good one that, like, we realise pretty quickly if we haven't put our goggles on, especially on a day like today. Yeah. So that's something you're already doing over and over and over again within a ride. And same with the dropper remote, I guess.

Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, perhaps picking a trigger. That is a movement or a touch that you're already doing. It sounds like a better idea than perhaps what I just made up then. 

Ciaran King: Yeah, it's just something that you will always do. Because it helps you focus on that process. So when things are chaotic, say at a race, where all of a sudden it's being moved forward or something, it can cause you to react negatively [00:51:00] and all of a sudden go into a bad mindset.

But as soon as you've got to put those goggles on Triggers you to think, okay, clouty words, how do I want to be, and you're like, oh yeah, it's a reset, just be the person I want to be. And, um, yeah, I always like to use this because it just helps with everyone's day to day life, is When you get home tonight, or tomorrow, whatever, when you go into that house, your front door is a trigger To think of yourself as like, okay, how do I want to be as It's a partner, it's a friend, family member, in my next situation with them.

So you see that trigger, okay, how do I want to be? You might be, okay, I want to be really joyful, I want to be loving, I want to be really present. And you go into that household, being those things, and you'll have a way better connection with your friend, your family, partner, and it's about, once again, 

Jake Johnstone: being intentional.

Yeah, I [00:52:00] like that. So practicing that skill of intention off the bike in little areas of our life so that when we go and ride our bike and we turn up on race day, we're better at that. 

Ciaran King: Yeah. And number one, gym door. Intention. How do I want to train today? Oh yeah, I want to be focused. I want to train hard.

I want to put a lot of effort in. Cool. Let's go do 

Jake Johnstone: those things. Yeah, I guess like anything, it's not necessarily about what we do, it's like how we do it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fantastic, Hey look, I wanted to talk really quickly here about crashes, and we're not going to dwell too much on this subject. Uh, we'll keep it positive.

Um, but I know you've got significant experience with perhaps having some bad crashes, dealing with concussions, stuff like this. Have you got any tips for people who perhaps have had a bit of a setback in their riding, and they are struggling to get back on the horse? 

Ciaran King: Yeah, so, yeah, I've had quite a few bad concussions, which sucks.

But, uh, yeah, luckily it's given me a lot of, uh, Opportunities to learn and grow in that area. And I [00:53:00] think the biggest thing is to accept where you are. You've had this big crash and you always want to compare to how you used to be. And this often puts you in a negative mindset because you're like, Oh my god, I'm so unfit now.

I'm so slow. And it's just like a struggle and it's quite a negative experience. And you have to beat yourself up, which can help affect your mental health. And, uh, yeah, progress. It's about, you know, thinking about it logically, okay. If I had this big crash, you know, of course I'm not going to be as fast.

That's where I want to go. Let's look at where I am right now, okay. I am, I can do, I can ride this speed at the moment, okay. Cool. Anything above that is progress. Okay, let's just start focusing on progress. Not about where, exactly where I want to go. It's great to have that as a focus, because that kind of motivates you.

But to really focus on that process. And two, every time you improve, that's awesome. [00:54:00] It doesn't matter if you just improved a tiny bit. Any little wins, celebrate 

Jake Johnstone: them. Yeah, mate, that's great, great advice. I know so often, yeah, we'll have a crash, but we want to just instantly be back where we were before that crash.

Performing, being that fast, being that confident. But I think, yeah, it's one of the easiest things to say but hardest things to do as a writer is just accept that like, I'm not there right now, I'm here. Once we do accept that we're here, we can start 

Ciaran King: building up again, just like you said. Yeah, exactly, you're not fighting it as much.

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, fantastic. Mate, thank you, this has been such a great conversation. And it's so cool kind of, yeah, hearing some of the subtleties of what you're teaching and what you've learned and comparing them to what I've been learning myself. Um, I know we've talked about all kinds of different things, but if you could give listeners just like one thing to go away and focus on, perhaps on their next ride, 

Ciaran King: what would it be?

Ah, next ride. Yeah, I guess setting your intention. It makes your riding so much more intentional. So [00:55:00] it could be, okay, this ride, I want to feel confident. It's be confident or might be, okay, I want to work on my braking. That is your intention to work on your braking. Or, okay, I just want to have fun. Go and have fun.

Do things that bring you happiness. Have fun. So second, that intention and then also reflecting on your wins, what went well, but then also what went wrong, applying that growth mindset and learning from it and growing from it. And you just start to see your riding. It just, you. You get a little bit better and because you've reflected and learn You get to that next level and all of a sudden, okay, you can go to the next one, but when you don't Acknowledge it celebrate it.

It's more of a gentle progression Yeah, we don't notice the winds as much do we? Yeah, and it feels good Like how nice does it feel like? Oh, the road's sick today. Acknowledging that make yourself proud makes you happier and then it brings that confidence the next time [00:56:00] you go riding Last time I rode real well.

Okay, cool. Let's see if I can do a bit better today. 

Jake Johnstone: Yeah, It's great advice and so simple, so actionable. So, everyone listening, you know 

Ciaran King: what to do. Yeah. Fantastic, 

Jake Johnstone: man. Before we wrap up here, is there any industry partners that you wanted to 

Ciaran King: mention? Uh, yes. So, uh, I also get the support for my racing, which is awesome.

And the main sponsor I have is, uh, Works UK, which is, they have the Works hydrostat and they, which is a battery powered jet wash, which is, Honestly, awesome. Every time I finish riding my bike, get out of my van, wash my bike. It's done in a few minutes. It's real light, portable, doesn't use much water. Yeah, it's like, honestly, like a go to thing to get.

And then, uh, get a bit of support from Pivot back at home in the UK, which is awesome. Local bike shop called Southwalk. So if you're in Devon, which you might not be, but if you are, go check them out. And then, uh, yeah, just a few other ones. [00:57:00] Fantastic, 

Jake Johnstone: mate. Some good partners on board there. Yeah, yeah.

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sitting down for a chat here. Thanks for the laps earlier. 

Ciaran King: Oh, thank you so much. I enjoyed it. Awesome, dude. See you on 

Jake Johnstone: the trails. ​

What's up guys? Just one more thing before you hit the trails. If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to subscribe and don't be a stranger. I'd love to hear from you about any topics or any particular episodes that you enjoyed, and even about any guests that you'd like to hear me have on the show.

in the future. You can find me on Instagram at the underscore mind underscore mountain. This podcast, mountain biking, and mindset are all things that are very close to my heart, so I feel super grateful to be able to share these conversations with you. So much love to you all for taking the time to listen.

I'll see you next [00:58:00] time.



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