On a climb, it's been roughly at 8-12% for the past few kilometers, and my friends are way ahead of me.
I feel like a loser, always at the end of the pack, but there's nothing more I can do. On a climb, one can only set their own pace and keep on pushing.
You've probably felt the same, perhaps while also trying to maintain the paceline or going down a descent.
The point is how do we deal with negative thoughts and emotions that may more sabotage rather than help our effort on the saddle?
Here's something magical that happens to us, whether we are aware of it or not... it's called self-talk!
In my case, I like to think that there's a personal inner coach/guru that is sharing golden nuggets of wisdom with me in the form of hints, reminders, positive thoughts or affirmations.
As they start pouring in, I realize that I cannot shut them up and that I'm slowly making my way to the top with pride.
"Don't focus on the pain, keep pushing".
"Keep your abs tight, push from your waist down, not with your shoulders".
"Release the grip on the handlebar, jaw relaxed".
"Do the best you can, stay in the moment, don't think ahead, keep breathing regularly through each pedal stroke".
These are some of the words that become as mantras escorting me out of my negative mind and up to the top of the mountain.
“Cycling isn't a game, it's a sport.Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn't play at cycling” – Jean De Gribaldy
Well yes, we definitely don't play when cycling!
The point is, how do we tap into that inner resource that turns us from being potential quitters into successful accomplishers?
How do we deal with the many emotions that bubble up via fatigue and hardship when we are in the saddle?
Well, at No Gods No Masters we like to call it self-therapy.
Instead of having your shrink hunched over your shoulder poking your subconscious, here you are playing both parts!
You're both the source of sufferance and the remedy, you're the healer and the healed. It's that simple, and anyone can do it.
Riding a bicycle is, above all, an emotional experience, because the effort that the body endures connects tightly with all the hopes and fears dialed in our psyche.
It's natural to go through these emotions, like the feeling of not being enough or less than, fear of not making it, fear of pain, fear of getting hurt or crushed hopes and the list goes on.
The truth is that endurance sports like cycling rely at least 60% on our head. It's our mind that pushes us up a long climb or across the finish line, it's our mental resilience and not our body.
And our mind is a strange beast to tame, but it can be trained and tricked into serving in our favor rather than against us.
No Gods No Masters believes that cycling is the perfect opportunity to look at our most intimate dynamics and emotions and upgrade them to a more an incredible plane, because the same mindset that we apply in our daily lives we carry over on the bicycle, and vice versa.
Hence, riding is, therefore, an amazing opportunity for working on ourselves.Two for the price of one! Done deal!
Tweak our thought pattern
If we can only slightly tweak our thought-pattern, we can then have an immensely positive effect on the results and goals we set.
But how? Here are few ways:
- practicing self-empathy & compassion,
- stay in the moment by relentlessly enduring our physical effort,
- suspend the mind by distancing ourselves from the physical pain
- accepting the negative thoughts just as much as the positive ones
- positive affirmations & visualizations.
If we are able to put into practice these principles we are then cycling mindfully!
You don't necessarily have to be an experienced meditator to do it, some of us do it automatically on our own, but perhaps we haven't consciously decoded it as a form of meditation yet.
With years of self-discovery and endurance sports practices, i've found many overlapping principles & techniques that can serve well while riding.
Isn't it amazing how we can take lessons learned from one side and apply them to a different context or situation?
In the end, it's always us going through this thing called life, and as women, cycling is one of the very best experiences we can have to enrich ourselves with!