Cycling and the Mental Difference Between Limping Into Spring and Sprinting. A Metaphor for Life, Somehow.
This time last year I was a bit of a basket case on my bike. This reality showed up here, on the blog, but what made it into my posts was always tempered. First, I’m not a person who concentrates on much of the negativity that can creep into my melon – the more I allow negativity to have its place, the harder it is to beat it down the road so I used my doubts as a tool to motivate me. For example, if I have a thought cruise through the grey matter that says, “You’re in trouble, keeping up is not supposed to be this hard. You took it too easy through the winter.” I accept that this is true and that I simply have to work harder so keeping up isn’t quite the chore. I don’t dwell on those thoughts and I don’t let them hold me back or get in the way of getting to where I want to be.
Now that I’ve got the year behind me, in hindsight, I hadn’t left enough sweat pooled under my bike on the trainer.
I knew I was in trouble about three miles into our first club ride. My breathing was screwed, my legs hurt a lot more than they should have and I didn’t, but did, want to be there. It took me a month of Sundays (and every day in between, plus some) to get caught up. I had to outwork all of my friends, who were as good as, or better, cyclists than me. I did it, I caught up, but the process sucked.
Not wanting to go through that s#!t again this year, I hammered the trainer starting January 1. Harder rides, harder gears, intervals that made me puke and want off the bike. Dammit, I hated the intervals… The first time was kind of cool, puked a little bit, it hurt, but it was alright. It was the next time. My lungs and heart were like, “Dude, are you a dumbass ‘er somethin'”? The third I think, I even put that workout off a day or two. Same with the fourth.
Then I made peace with it. I finally came to the conclusion that I could pay now or pay later. I tried “later” last year and it took me what seemed like forever to catch up. After that, I was able to mentally get into a zone where I could deal with the interval workouts and I hit them even harder. By the end of February I knew I was in good shape. I could feel it – and more important, I could see it in the mirror.
We’re five days into cycling season and I’m very happy with where I’m at. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m even with or slightly better off than most of the guys I normally ride with. This year I have no catching up to do so as long as I put in my saddle time and work hard, this will be a much more enjoyable season. The mental difference this year over last, as you might imagine, is huge. Instead of being tentative and trying to hide during rides, I’m out front working harder and getting stronger – and I haven’t even gotten my fast bike out yet.
All too often I can let random thoughts affect outcomes in my life, whether I take action or procrastinate. Or, on the other hand, I can treat the negative thoughts, the fear-based thoughts that stand in the way, as what they are: Garbage. As I get on in this crazy world I’ve come to the realization that my dreams are often sloppy when it comes to garbage removal. Every once in a while something slips through the cracks and I have to take those thoughts to the garbage can while I’m awake. I often refer to my thoughts as the “committee” and it turns out, I have a choice in who runs the show.
Remember, just because a thought enters your mind, it doesn’t necessarily have validity. Sometimes it’s just trash that the dreams dropped on the way to the garbage can. I am better than the committee wants me to believe.