A huge part of an endurance event and training for one is psychological battles. As someone with a history of anxiety and depression problems, I’m well versed in some personal techniques for mitigation panic attacks and recognizing depression symptoms. Unfortunately, I’m not well versed in how to handle these issues under extended periods of physical stress.
But over the past few weeks I have found several techniques to getting over each little internal battle I’ve experienced while pushing my body and mind much farther than I have tried in the past decade. One of those methods is setting attainable goals. Each peddle and each stroke can become difficult at times, and they’re often great accomplishments in and of themselves, but each being a goal is a little too micro managing for myself. A 100 miles is definitely too macro managing and very overwhelming when you’re sitting alone on a piece of metal. But getting over each hill or bonk is a very manageable goal.
A counselor I talked with in the past was very helpful when setting these manageable goals. Don’t try to be perfect forever. Don’t even think about being perfect and stable and happy for the next 10 years. Focus on the day, live in the now. So that’s what I’ve learned to do to counter anxiety. When my body is stressed, and I reach a peak of “bonking” I dial it back a notch. I let the feeling of pain or negative excitement pass. But you can’t stop and collapse while riding a bike. You keep peddling. You shift to a very high gear, remove all strain, take some deep breaths, maybe a sip of water (yes while peddling) and push through it.
A whole day of that is exhausting to just THINK about, but it’s not so much when all you’re worried about is the next one. Just this one. If you can get through this one, you can get through anything.
It’s this mindset and feeling that has allowed me to persevere so far, and will help me get through 100 miles in a single ride. Even now, at the end of each ride, as we go farther and farther distances, I find that at the end I always want to keep going. I have always felt that I wasn’t done quite yet – I hadn’t reached my max, when in reality I reached my max on every hill – every time I’ve pushed myself. It’s this feeling that’s incredibly empowering. It’s those downhills that make the climbs so easy and manageable.
I kind of messed up on a different goal though – I said I’d update this bi-weekly, but my time doesn’t allow for that quite yet. Hopefully I’ll keep up weekly, as that’s my new manageable goal, and it’s my promise to you.
On a side note, if you’re interested in following more details about my ride, be sure to check out my Strava page where I’ve been logging each ride in excruciating detail of technology. If someone shows some interest, I wouldn’t mind upgrading that account to pro and tracking my heart and “suffer” score. My longest ride is 28 miles so far! Here’s to the next 40!
Here’s some fun data facts to wrap up, for those nerds-at-heart like myself:
Time 7hr 15m
Elev Gain 1,575ft
This entry was originally posted on my TNT for LLS fundraising page.