Last weekend I competed in a bike race. I am a competitive cyclist, but this year I was not very competitive. The reason is simple, I didn’t put enough time or effort into my training. I’ve been putting my time, effort, and energy into Live Fit. I have not had a lot left over to blast out high quality training sufficient to do well in the types of races I normally do.
I have been staying fit enough with rides, runs, and weight training to maintain good health and general fitness, but not race ready. And that is okay because racing is a hobby, and I will never be paid to do it. So backing off this year was a good decision, except that I pay for it when I race. This is a good analogy for life, don’t you think? Life is like a bike race, the better prepared you are, the better you do.
It’s Easy At First
That day, 71 of us rolled out on fairly flat land with surges of speed that let me know I was on the edge, but mostly it was a slow and casual pace. It went on like this for 45 miles until the first real climb.
As the road began to tip up, I began to slow down. I peddled with all my might and sadly watched the group drift away from me up the road. For 25 minutes I struggled, and breathed and grunted and cursed, and nearly cried as the group disappeared farther and farther away from me, and there was nothing more I could do about it.
During this climb a slew of things came to mind “I’m weak,” “I’m a loser,” “I should have prepared better,” “when will this end?” “Should I turn back or keep going?” Blah, blah, blah. I was struggling mentally as much as physically. I was embarrassed and humiliated. “What should I do?” I didn’t have a good answer, so I kept going. “Just get to the top.”
Have a Plan
One thing I will say about me that I’m proud of is that I have a pretty tenacious mindset. When I make my mind up to do something, I see it through to the end. I HATE turning around and going back. I HATE quitting. I will alter my plan if continuing will possibly cause harm, but usually I set those in place before hand so I have checkpoints at which to assess, rather than giving in to fatigue or boredom.
By the time I reached the crest of the hill and could see down in the valley below, the group was out of sight. I peddled as fast as I could, but it was ineffective. Despite my easy speed down the hill, my spirits were low. Then I heard a sound.
A Little Help From My Friends
The sound I heard were bikes. I turned in time to see a paceline (single file) of 5 or 6 guys coming at me quickly. I jumped on the back and all of us ripped down that hill like a speeding train. The road leveled out and we kept flying. We were stronger together. Much stronger than any of us were alone. At this rate we might be able to catch the group.
By the time we hit the next climb, I was feeling pretty strong and confident. I knew the finish was close, just over the next set of hills, and I knew I was going to make it. Something happened while I was with that small group. We worked together. We were all in the same boat (dropped from the main group and trying to catch up) we gave each other support and our strength amplified. It was pretty cool.
I used the momentum I gathered from the group (both physically and emotionally) to increase my motivation which allowed me to accomplish my goal. It was at this time, while climbing that second hill, that I realized that a bike race is like any other goal a person is working for. You might have a goal of losing weight, improving your fitness or not smoking – it really doesn’t matter what the goal is, there is going to be struggles and smooth patches and dips and perhaps feelings of hopelessness. There will be times when you want to quit. But, you CAN get through those dips. Just take one step, one pedal stroke, at a time. Don’t look too far into the future, it will be overwhelming. I got through the race because I shortened my sight. I took one mile at a time. If you are working to change a habit, focus on one day at a time. When that day is over, focus on the next day.
Improvement, Not Perfection
Strive for improvement. As long as you are moving forward, you are improving. You will not reach perfection, so don’t stress it. Do better than you have before. Momentum builds motivation which builds success.
Life is like a bike race. And like a a bike race you need support.
Support is very helpful. Share your stories and your struggles with someone else who is going through, or has gone through, the same thing. Use a coach – someone who can see things from the outside and give you rational advice on what to do and how to cope.
I have a coaching program because I know how important a coach is to success. I help my clients via phone, email and text messages to hold them accountable and to be an outside opinion on difficulties. Everybody needs help from time to time. You may succeed without help, but it will probably take you longer and it may not be as solid.
Listen to this Episode Here.
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