My head has been a bit all over the place recently. To the point where for a brief moment I wasn’t sure I even wanted to race my bike next year at all.
It wasn’t even that I didn’t want to ride – that will never stop being fun. It was the pressure of competition. The commitment and sacrifices I’ll need to make to be in shape for the start of next season.
That’s the thing with cycling. There are no shortcuts.
Want to be good? Then put it the work. Don’t eat that cake. Ride in all weather. And occasionally pedal so hard your vision blurs and you’re sick on yourself.
If that wasn’t enough, it doesn’t matter how strong you are (or how many times you’re sick on yourself). When it comes to racing I’d say at least 25% of doing well simply comes from beleiving in your own abilities. The strongest guy rarely wins on the day. And if he does, it’s because he knew it.
What’s brought all this one?
I’ve struggled to imagine pushing myself again as hard as I did earlier this year. I was so focussed for so long. I tried so, so hard. Not just in training – but with diet and mindset too – that the thought of going through it all again just didn’t appeal.
It wasn’t easy.
It took a lot of energy.
And it was ultimately for fuck all.
“I think I took a much bigger knock with the whole Nationals thing than I let on. Even to myself.”
On top of that it’s ‘off season’.
Which means I’m rather addicted to sugar right now, and cutting it out has been more difficult than I imagined! I’ve allowed my diet to plummet into a sticky-sweet pit of chocolate, candy, and cake.
“These won’t touch the sides!”
“It’s the off season! Time for indulgence!”
Well, indulge I did. And touch the sides it has. I’m sat here weighing significantly more than ever. I stepped on the scales yesterday and got the first kick up the arse I needed to snap out of this negative mindset. I’m now north of 60kg, whereas just a few months ago I was hovering around 55kg. Not a bad effort that!
That said I’m a lot more relaxed about my weight and competition now – a positive from my training leading up to Nationals. I found a nutrition plan that works for me in carb backloading. So I’m confident the weight will drop quickly.
What else? Well, I started a new job not long back which has meant working in Stockholm almost every other week. Sometimes it hasn’t been possible to take my bike and train. That means I’ve had more time off my bike in the past two months than I have in the previous two years!
The job is high pressure, means time away from home, and a break in routine. The work is fun but I doubt it’s had a positive impact on my sporting mindset.
And finally, I have a kid on the way. I’m all too wary of how life changing this is. And that cycling (and sport in general) is likely to take a back seat for a while next year.
These unhealthy thoughts have made finding motivation to think about starting to train properly for next year difficult. Wouldn’t it be easier to just not race. Eat cake, and ride whenever I wanted?
Yes, it would. But would that ultimately make me happier?
Enough of that negative bollocks. Let’s do this!
I thought about everything for a long time. I confided in a few close friends and wrote this post. Now I feel a hell of a lot better and ready to strap on the nosebag and eat some serious training. I need the challenge. I need that drive. I have a relentless desire to push myself.
Part of my problem is that I’m a bit all-or-nothing. I can’t just ‘see how it goes’. If I’m racing I need to feel prepared, strong, and confident. I need to give 110% otherwise I’ll beat myself up and just get frustrated. That’s why I had a bit of a mental hiccup. It’s a big undertaking for me. Even at this low-level of the sport.
Short-term goals for motivation
I started to plan my main goals for next year back in September! I plan to race from February 2016 until the kid drops. At which point I will have to just take each day as it comes. The problem is that’s still a long way off. Struggling with diet and focus I needed to set some immediate goals to work towards.
Here are a few things I’ve got in mind;
1. Get some banter in your life!
“You need some group banter rides in your life and when someone challenges you on them as they do – it’s always done laughing – but when you destroy them it’s a wake up call to how good you are for yourself.”
Phill made a great point during a conversation not long ago. I couldn’t actually remember the last time I was in a group-banter-situation! All of my training leading up to the National Hill Climb was solitary, short, and bloody tough. A good group ride with a strong bunch is exactly what I need. As luck would have it, that’s exactly the type of ride I have locally on a Saturday morning. From now on Saturday’s are going to be full of banter. I imagine I’ll turn up to the first one this weekend, get my arse handed to me and come home with a bruised ego but full of motivation to not let that happen again.
2. Complete the Festive 500 (again)
A fantastic fitness booster. Ride 500km in 8 days. Last years event was one of the first things I wrote about on this website. I’m hoping to ride more miles than ever during that week. Fingers crossed for decent weather. There were more than a few squeaky-bum moments last year. The Festive 500 means miles in the legs and usually comes served with a side of man-the-fuck-up. Just what I need!
3. Eat well and drop below 60kg before Christmas
With my other goals set I don’t think this one will be too tough. As I mentioned earlier I’ve had two fairly large blocks of time off the bike (but on the cake and snacks). A few long rides, a few less treats I’ll be looking lean in no time.
I want to hit 2016 better on my bike, more confident, and stronger than ever. With the introduction of my short-term goals I’m starting to feel focussed again.
It’s just what I needed. Without goals, it’s just so difficult to completely dedicate yourself. Hopefully anyone struggling during this early-winter period can relate to this post! And here’s to finding that motivation and smashing it next year. Cheers!