By Eric Beach
This afternoon I was able to get my first outdoor bike ride of the season in! Putting on my kit, I was a bit giddy. Its strange how you can be so excited preparing to get out and push your body as hard as you can!
At the start of every season, I make a series of season goals. These are realistic milestones I'd like to hit, beyond a specific race. For example, this year, one of my goals was to get my average speed up to 16 mph.
I left my driveway pushing hard. I looked at my speedometer. 14.2 mph! What! How can this be! I'm pushing myself as hard as I can! Admittedly I was more than discouraged. Moving on. A mile into my ride, I'm going downhill, pushing hard. I look down... 17.4 mph. No! I can't have gotten this out of shape over the winter! Thats when I noticed the letters AVG next to my speed... Thats my average speed! Whew! I switched over to current speed and was much happier.
I had a fast first 2 miles. When I turned around, I realized it was because the wind had been at my back. The rest of my ride was a grind. I spent most of it trying to find the best body position to cut through the wind. I also did a lot of self talk in an effort to tell myself to push up the hills. That I was strong.
After the ride. I checked my stats. It was a short 11 mile ride but my pace was 16.4 mph! So happy with that! New goal for the season... Average 18 mph.
As I sat and thought about my first ride, I had a few realizations.
First, Sometimes we operate with false data. We perceive results and not our effort. I pushed as hard as I could and a speedometer told me I was failing. The world will tell you you're failing, but the world doesn't have all the info. The world doesn't know your effort. You do.
Run your race, push yourself, don't compare and eventually you'll be stronger. Eventually the result will match the effort and the worlds standard. But, that won't be your satisfaction. Your satisfaction will be in your self-approval. You will no longer NEED validation.
The second thing I realized was I spent most of the ride fighting to find a more aerodynamic position. Fighting to tell myself how strong I was. Fighting to believe it. In the hard times we need to constantly remind ourselves how strong we are. That we believe in ourselves. I've learned before I can believe someone else telling me I'm strong, I must first believe it when I tell myself.
Finding a better position to take on the wind built me a new skill set. in adversity we learn how to take on the challenge. When we mindlessly go through the trial, when we drag ourselves through it defeated, nothing will be different the next time trial comes. When in the adverse times, we try to find a better way to get through it, next time, we will be better equipped to attack the problem.
The last thing I realized was you can't count on the wind stopping. The winds of life change. They may be in your face or at your back. They may last for mile after mile, no matter what direction you turn.
I kept telling myself, "Get through this and after the turn, the wind will be at your back." But, when I turned, the wind was still in my face. I'd get mad, want to quit. Its not fair! The only reason I felt this way was because I was surviving the wind, expecting it would soon stop and my ride would be easy. Anger is always rooted in unmet expectations.
Life's like that. We can survive a season, because "After this one, it gets easier." Once I get out of high school, life will be better. Once I graduate college, life will be easier. Once I get a new job, once I make more money it will get easier. But often life doesn't get easier. Life is messy and if we expect the relief to come after the turn, we won't be mentally strong enough when the relief doesn't come.
We can't look at the finish line, we must keep our eyes fixed 20 feet ahead of us.
Take life 20 feet at a time. 20 feet at a time.