Thursday, July 2, 2015

Working on My Mental Toughness

Until I started trail running I was never tough mentally when it came to sports and exercise.  My motto was more like - When the going gets tough, I’m getting coffee!  I simply didn’t care if I finished or not.  As I started running in Annadel more and more, I found that my mental toughness started to improve.  

While this late-blooming mental resolve also carried over to cycling, I can still talk myself out of just about anything.  So, I knew that yesterday’s ride was going to be a test of my mental resolve in more ways than one.  After leaving work, I had a full line of excuses already in place by the time I got home.

The first issue was the heat.  Everyone in my cycling world knows I do not perform well when it’s hot.  Heat has been my demise in two major events, the Terrible Two and the Mendocino Monster, where the temperature hit 112 degrees in both events. When I got in the car around 5:00, it was 95.  It had cooled down to a lovely 93 by the time I hit the road.

My next issue was hunger.  Or, more specifically, bonking.  You know you’re in for a long ride, regardless of the real distance, when you start to bonk on the drive home.  As I was getting ready I began to chow down on nuts and energy food.  This is where I began to really talk myself out of the ride.  Instead, I finished getting ready and was on my way.

As soon as I started rolling, a third issue popped up.  My Garmin has been acting up on and off for the last year.  Yesterday I was getting a steady chorus of be-deep (pause), be-deep (resume).  It was happening every 2-3 minutes and starting to drive me a bit crazy.

Then, something kind of amazing happened.  The planned route was flat and easy, which was perfect given all the issues (heat, hunger, Garmin).  However, about 3-miles into the ride I made an interesting choice.  I went left into Fountaingrove versus right towards the flat land.  Apparently, my new plan is doing hill repeats.

I am a little proud of myself for tackling the hills and this in turn helps me ignore the heat and hunger.  The only thing I was having trouble ignoring was the frigging Garmin!  After going over the first climb, and bombing down a great descent, I started climb #2.  At this point, the Garmin is doing it’s pause-resume thing continuously.

Apparently, that was one mental resolve too many for me.  As the Garmin continued it’s constant be-deep, be-deep chorus I had already decided it was time for a new one.  After a few more minutes of constant be-deep, be-deep I was done.  I won’t describe the next few seconds but suffice it to say that I finished the ride in silence and I have to stop by NorCal Bike Sport later today.

I finished the climbs without any issues by focusing on things like my rhythm and breathing and not the feeling in my stomach.  The temperature had cooled down nicely and it turned out to be a great evening for a ride.  It was so nice that I decided to add some flat-land miles and slowly make my way to Riviera Ristorante for some food to go.

That was my plan all along.  Get in good ride followed by some excellent bolognese fettuccine from Riviera.  Then I realized, perhaps it wasn’t my mental resolve that got me through this ride after all.  Perhaps it was the promise of a great reward at the end.  That works for me and now I have a new motto.  When the going gets tough, I’m going to Riviera.


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