Wednesday, December 18, 2013

trying softer

every time I don biking gear and hop on my bicycle, I expect my body to give me everything it has.
every time I walk in the workout room, pull on my bike shoes, and hop on the exercise bike, I expect my body to perform "as usual."
and when it's more difficult than usual, or I'm aching somewhere, or it just feels too hard, I tend to blame myself, heading to a place of "what's wrong with me?"
which isn't the most productive place to go.

some days are better than others;  some times we perform better than other times.
and some days we get caught in a negative mental loop that, instead of improving our experience, harms both our workout and ourselves, that place of "what's wrong with me?"

chances are, the answer to that question is, nothing!  maybe I could have used more sleep, better nutrition the day before, less stress at home, the mental boost of my favorite jersey that was, unfortunately, dirty.  but there isn't anything wrong with me; I'm just having a less-than-stellar performance day.

however, when we figure out that we're having one of those less-than days, we often beat up on ourselves, making it worse instead of better.  I did a little research about how to stop this negative mental loop, and found the following written by Dr. G of Competitive Advantage to be helpful to me:  when we start beating ourselves up for performing poorly, we often get sucked into a place of trying too hard.  The guidance below helps me stop the negativity, be a little gentler with myself, and ultimately and unexpectedly, perform better.

One of the biggest mental traps that athletes fall into is the “trying too hard” trap. Fueled by frustration or making the contest too important, trying too hard is a losing game. As a matter of fact, it’s the game of diminishing returns: The harder you try, the worse you’ll do! This is because trying too hard tightens your muscles up and absolutely kills your mechanics. Trying too hard gets you forcing things and peak performance always comes from being relaxed and “letting it happen.” Be alert inside to when you start pressing and trying to make something “big” happen. When you become aware of yourself trying too hard, quickly shift your focus of concentration away from the outcome or its importance to the task at hand. Remember you want to relax and try “softer,” not harder.

tomorrow morning I have a time trial, a 20-minute stretch at zone 5/ventricular threshold/a really hard place to be.  and no matter how I feel going into it, I am going to try, softly, to perform well.  awesomely.  strongly.  well.
I'll let you know how it goes.

*UPDATE december 19th after the time trial:   softer worked.  grin.
go give it a try!

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