Saturday, October 18, 2008


what we think is going to happen influences our experience of what happens. that's not even quantum physics, that's just reality. we're not influencing the actual events (or are we?), just our interpretation of those events.
I call this mindset. defines mindset as: A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.
by "fixed" I take it to mean that one enters a situation or experience with a particular mindset, not that one's mindset is "fixed" into position and always the same. that may be obvious to all of you, but I still felt the need to clarify it, because my discussion here is all about the fact that my mindset changes frequently.
take yesterday for example. I had a certain mindset about my ride: I was going for distance more than difficulty. I planned to ride toward the south, perhaps to sandy, perhaps to draper, along wasatch. which is relatively flat in comparison to riding up big cottonwood. of course mom nature wanted to make it a little more interesting for me, so she threw in a pretty impressive southerly wind. thus my right out was laughably difficult, and my ride back a (forgive the pun) breeze. at times. because, as mom nature loves to do to me, the winds switched direction while I was up at storm mountain and started blowing in from the north from that point on. geez.
anyway, the winds on my way out were about 20 mph (with gust up to 28), and on my way back closer to 10, so my return ride felt much easier than the way out.
about storm mountain: I had to visit a certain spot up at storm mountain, thus thought I would detour and ride the first few miles up big cottonwood on my way home. that place has some kind of pull on my heart. I don't know what it is, but each time I come down the canyon I am stunned by its sudden appearance, and enthralled to the point I can barely ride my bike. while riding up the canyon, the exposed mountain looks so radically different, and I love it, but it just doesn't grab my heart the way it does on my way down. (perhaps because my heart rate is 183 beats per second, I can't breathe, and my legs are on fire.)
but back to mindset. (you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?)
when I set out on a ride I generally have a fairly firm idea of where I'm going. and I set my mind on that, mentally preparing myself for whatever it may be: a recovery ride, an aggressive climb like millcreek, a long long ride, or a mild but decent climb like emigration. and I find that my mindsets are very different, depending upon what the ride should be like. key word: should.
I don't have to prepare myself too much for emigration; I have to really talk myself into millcreek. when I commit to riding up big cottonwood, I know I'm in for distance (it's 50 miles round trip) and difficulty.
and when I decide I'm just going to ride out south along wasatch, I don't expect it to be too hard. sure, there are a few hills and rises that send my heartrate soaring, but all in all, it's fairly mellow.
so yesterday, although I knew I had the storm mountain climb to accomplish, I had a mindset of "this is a pretty easy ride." in addition, I was only going to ride about 40 miles, which is significantly less than most of my weekend rides for the past four months or so.
I started out, and then quickly discovered I was fighting the wind. I was riding a good 4-6 mph slower than usual, and it was a lot more work than I wanted it to be. and by the time I reached little cottonwood road, I felt beat up. and this was less than 15 miles into my ride!
and this is when I realized so much of cycling is about mindset. during the logan to jackson ride, the first leg ~ to Preston, Idaho ~ is about 35 miles. both years I have reached preston feeling great, ready to ride the next 171 miles. because I knew that was the plan. my mindset was that I would ride 206 miles that day, and I would just do it.
it's hard for me to not analyze and compare thoughts and feelings, and that is what I found myself doing yesterday at little cottonwood road. 15 miles and I am beat up! that's not even half way to preston! what would I do if I had to ride another 191 miles?? what a wimp!
I was sure a lot stronger and tougher 6 weeks ago . . .
which is when I consoled myself with the fact that it's all about mindset. had I committed to riding 100 miles yesterday, I would have felt a lot differently at the 15-mile point. but since I knew it was only going to be a 40-miler, I allowed myself to feel beat-up and incapable of doing anything more than my plan.
I think they call this self-limiting.
I left my house knowing I was going for a relatively mild ride, and thus that's what my brain told my body to prepare for.
so it did.
and therefore, yesterday's lesson for me was this: be careful about the mindset you create for yourself. I did not think that my mindset was defeatist in any way, but I'm coming to understand that it was. it was in that it limited me, caused me to feel less capable than I am. (note: I am thinking deeply about this, and considering its application to my entire way of being.) wow. I have always thought that I possess an optimistic, realistic, positive outlook on life in general, and my participation in it. but perhaps I limit myself more than I ever realized.
in TV announcer's voice: another bit of soul-searching, wisdom-producing insight brought to you by the activity of cycling.

susan's mindset: an open, always flexing, self-adjusting, positive mental attitude or disposition that does not predetermine her responses to and interpretations of situations and experiences.

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