I got to thinking this morning about my ride the other day. Now anyone who knows me understands that my melon is no place for a nervous person – I can have some odd thoughts rumble through there from time to time. This morning one of those thoughts crept in and I tossed it around for a minute just to see how messed up I could make my reality. It was interesting to say the least, here’s how it went:
The initial thought was, “Man I’ve gotta work on getting some power behind a sprint when I might not feel like it if I’m going to hang with the horses”.
The next thought, from the committee, was, “I wonder if they tried to drop me on purpose to see if I had the legs/heart to keep up – Mike said that they normally don’t roll out so fast like that…and I didn’t”.
STOP, right there for a second and let’s look at this because this is the fork in the road that separates the winners from those who choose to sit out. The next thought will determine whether I choose to continue riding with the group or whether I just stick to my own – but worse yet, this could ultimately determine, if I let it, whether my bike sits in the garage collecting dust forevermore. Now we all know that the last scenario simply isn’t possible, but that’s only because I’m me – I have a love for riding that is, put simply, above such petty bullshit. Others may not be so lucky so I decided to peruse the capabilities of my melon to mess me up for the purpose of a (hopefully) decent post.
My next thought, under normal circumstances, would go something like this: “STFU and work on figuring out how to get faster, punk”… That’s not how I wanted to roll this time though. Let’s take up where I left off and continue down the wrong path – in fact, let’s walk down the path that lands me on the couch watching “Mob Wives”, When Plastic Surgery Goes Very Wrong:
I apologize for the image, because it’ll probably be a little tough to concentrate now, but try to stay with me…
Blah, blah, blah…I wonder if they tried to drop me on purpose… Next thought: “They did and there wasn’t a whole lot you could do about it, but what kind of jerks would do that”?
“The a**hole kind, that’s who, you shouldn’t even bother hanging out with jerks like that”.
“In fact, while we’re at it, Matt said you were ready for this and you obviously weren’t, you got dropped like a dirty shirt”.
“Yeah, ditto that, dirty shirt. And while we’re at it, what are you even doing on a bike at 41 years old, your glory days are well behind you and you sat those out because you were always afraid of everything you big p***y. Who do you think you are anyway”?
“Yeah ya big dope, why bother? You need some time off, a little couch time, and you’d be better off giving some of that time to your wife, you’ll be happier without it anyway – and those guys are a bunch of a**holes anyway and Matt did you wrong so now you’ve got nobody…just take it easy for a while”.
You get the idea – before long, I’ve retired my Lycra, dejected and alone – and it would be…
Now, to a novice at working closely on the actual thoughts that cross one’s mind, or better yet, to a well-adjusted individual, the mental conversation above could seem a little nuts but they happen all day, every day in most people. It just depends on how closely you pay attention to them and to what extent you ‘feed’ the negative ones. For example, that committee conversation above, the wrong path one, is all but impossible to be held in my mind today – I had to consciously let it unfold with the intention of being as messed up as possible – but that’s only because I’ve been working on cleaning them up for darn near 16 years. For someone who has no idea what’s going on up there, or for someone new to fitness who doesn’t have the self-confidence to deal with those thoughts or the emotions that follow, the thoughts and thereby the results, can be disastrous – especially if they’re only subtle.
In fact, being a part of the running club I see this on a regular basis. I knew going into Tuesday’s ride that there was a 60% chance that I’d be dropped. How many people, show of hands, would simply skip the enterprise altogether? Think about it, my first ever group ride, and I’m heading out with the advanced group? One of that group happened to be a nationally ranked triathlete – and still competes. And in a town with a route I’ve never been to or seen before. Shoot, I know people who don’t show up to our running club because they think we actually care about how good they look in shorts, for crying out loud!
The cyclists out there would simply say that it’s a part of the right of passage, I’ve read on too many websites about folks getting dropped to worry about it, so I agree with that idea, but that idea is a choice. I choose not to go down the other road that leads to the couch and a vastly more unhappy me because I’m equipped to battle the committee. I am able, through practice, to figuratively look inside my head and take the role of the professor rather than a student. I’ve learned to isolate that one thought right when it first creeps in and say, “hey, you in the back row, sit down and shut up and you might learn something, otherwise, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you on the way out” before I lose control of the rest of the class and myself in the process. That’s the goal in mastering one’s thoughts and controlling them, rather than allowing the negative thoughts to control the actions.
This theory applies to all aspects of my life, with every little thing I choose to do – will I allow the negativity to dominate, or will I take the proper action to remedy whatever small problem I might have?
The choice is ultimately up to us, but there is one bad side effect… You don’t get to be a victim anymore. Eventually you figure out that only you can make you feel that bad. Once that happens, it’s all over but the shouting.