Often neglected in these discussions is the way this sport pushes your psychological limits.
Whether you find yourself training or racing, at times it feels like someone has extracted your consciousness and put it through the spin cycle on your dryer.
As my training sessions have become more frequent, longer in duration and relegated to the indoors, I've noticed that one of the most significant hurdles in transferring my 70.3 experience to being successful at the 140.6 distance is going to be, you guessed it, my mental game.
It seems obvious, but it has been made abundantly clear to me that my mental game is directly related to my physical output, effort and results. When I'm in a good head space, everything seems to be going well. Cadence is good. Breathing is good. Confidence is high.
But when doubt and negativity start to creep in I start to feel pain more readily. Time slows down. Breathing speeds up. Little things seem insurmountable. The body seems to tell you you're ready to quit. I want to quit.
In an effort to shed some insights into what goes on in this little brain of mine during a long training session and hopefully illustrated what I'm talking about, I captured some of those thoughts on a piece of paper in my last training session.
This particular training session included: 5 hour indoor training session @65-75% FTP followed by a 60 min run in HR Zone 2-3. Total distance 155 km - stationary.
Here are 15 thoughts that I took for a spin on my latest ride, in no particular order and combined to shorten the list:
- "I can do this. My training is paying off. I'm ready." (I was 35 mins in)
- "I can't do this. What am I thinking? My ass hurts. My legs are getting sore. I've still got 2.5 hours left. I'm never going to finish"
- "I wonder what my "normal" friends are doing on Saturday afternoon? Socializing, enjoying the outdoors, napping. Here I am, sitting on my bike pedaling to nowhere"
- "Has time stopped? Why are the seconds ticking by so slowly. This is crazy."
- "I have to pee. Just ignore it. "Don't go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used too .... " Are you kidding me???!!!!"
- "If I was racing right now would I pee on my bike or stop?" (a few moments later) "I'd definitely pee on my bike"
- "Why are you talking out loud? No wait, are you? Yup, yup you are."
- "My body hates me. I hate me. Why am I doing this to myself." Really, what are you doing this for?"
- "Things I'd rather being doing - reading, being outside, visiting friends, playing with a dog, cooking, eating, this exact thing - OUTSIDE!"
- "Why does Trevor talk about poop so much? I should really talk to him about his diet, something isn't right there."
- "It really is hard to stay focused at 195 watts. Am I even moving? Don't be stupid, take the rest you'll appreciate it later"
- "My ass hurts so much. Is there really any way to make a bicycle seat comfortable over a period of 5 hours of constant sitting? (an hour later) "No, there isn't"
- "15 more minutes. Just kidding. 10 more minutes. Haha got you again. 20 more minutes. You fall for it every time."
- "FINALLY!!! Shit .... I still have to run"
- "Seriously, Wonder Women? What was the UN thinking? Mascot for female empowerment ......
- Bonus: "This is why you do it. You've accomplished something. You stuck it out. You finished. You committed and came through. This is the person you want to be. You're ready."
As you can imagine, these are but the start of longer internal monologues, debates, discussions, arguments .... but I'm sure you get the drift.
I believe I'm ready physically or at least nearly there, this has become a mental challenge now.
Keep grinding .....