Sometimes you find yourself in a rut, digging yourself deeper as you spin your wheels faster in a futile effort. As my mom often told me, sometimes the best action is inaction.
I’ve recently found myself in this spot both in cycling and in life, creating almost unattainable goals and pushing so hard to get them that I find myself being buried under the effort. At the beginning of the year I proclaimed this to be the year I truly took my cycling to the next level, entered new races and really setting and achieving training goals. Of course, we all know what happens to the best laid plans….and as work and life and attempts to reconnect with friends began to build, I found myself begin to struggle. Skipping my early am workouts for a few minutes more sleep before I faced the day. And of course with that came the crushing guilt of feeling I was falling short, that I was failing. So my time on the bike became less and less fun, more of a true sufferfest. Each morning I watched my heart rate rise quicker, faster, in response to my building exhaustion. And like the vicious circle, I pushed harder as my efforts fell shorter and shorter.
A friend recently made the statement of feeling he was “forcing life” and that resonated deeply. There is no enjoyment in the rat race, the ever unattainable “success” in one field of life or another. So this morning, when I arrived to an over-full spin class, I took it as the final of many signs that I need to take a break. So I went home, hopped on my trainer, and rode. No Sufferfest, no Garmin, no Strava. Just me turning the pedals and listening to some good music. No grueling climbs, no all out sprints. Just a day to remember my true love for the sport, to feel strong and fit and healthy and alive. I spent an hour spinning away, singing out loud in the privacy of my bike room, and hopped off the bike invigorated and ready for the day.
And by no means does this mean I am done training or pushing myself, and I know there will be many days ahead where I have to Trust The Struggle (great read from Allen Lim) in order to get better, push myself to the point of breaking so I can rebuild as an even stronger rider. Taking a moment to sit back and regroup has only reinforced my plans for the year, and I look forward to what I can accomplish with some hard work and training. But we all need to step back sometimes and not always see a struggle as a good thing, and remember that nothing in life works when it is forced.