Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mental Toughness (is perhaps what you'll need to work through this blog today...)

My rest week last week was kind of weird. I backed off too much. I ate too much. I stressed too much. I slept too little. By the end of the week I really felt like I had come off the rails a little bit. So ending the rest week two rides and two hours short of my training schedule just kind of set me up for this week all wrong.

Monday was an off day so that was cool -except I actually felt like riding. Then Jasper got sick and I took my turn at home with him on Tuesday and
couldn't get on my bike. I tried to tell myself, "no biggie, you get two off days this week, you'll just have to get on top of things the rest of the week." But the off-the-rails feelings of frustration were creeping in around the edges stronger.

Wednesday I rode. But I felt horrible. I couldn't get on top of my gear and I ended the ride feeling kind of exasperated. Fortunately, this feeling eased off a bit later on when I realized that the fixed gear I was riding had been a 42-14 that I had set up for roller riding instead of the usual 42-16 I spin on the road. Still...

Today I simply couldn't wedge a bike ride into my work day and the need to get home since Kris is sick now too. Not going to make this week's training goals. Off. The. Rails.

Saturday was going to be my big ride of the week. I may not get much of a ride in at all. Off. The. Rails.

But is this a big deal in the grand scheme of things? No. Is it a big deal for my bike racing plans (hahahaha)? No, not really. As long as I exercise some mental toughness.

I used to think mental toughness was the ability to ignore pain, endure suffering, and tune out my brain to push past my physical limits. I suppose that is one definition but I'm learning now that mental toughness is the ability to realize your limits, whether they be emotional, stress, physical, dietary or viral/bacterial and make the proper adjustments to get yourself back on track.

In literature, the "back on track" is called your Ideal Performance State. So, right now, I need to be mentally tough enough to just not let the missed training days get to me and move forward with my eyes on the prize. And in this case the prize is not alienating my family, doing a solid job at work and not driving myself into the ground. The fitness and performance will still come and I'll be right back on track with training as soon as things mellow out a bit.

Work gets busy. Loved ones get sick. Hey, that's life. And if you let it get to you then you aren't in control. And if there's one glorious lesson I've managed to soak up in the last three years or so it's that this is my ship and I get to steer it.

Damn, I mixed up my metaphors there. I started off like a pothead engineer on a train going off the rails and ended up on a ship sailing it with steely determination (or at least grasping for a mask of steeliness).

"Steady as she goes!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Working, Training, Sleeping, Building

I'm in one of those typical four-weeks-before-deployment last minute do everything meltdown panic phases at work. You'd think I'd be sick of this and find something else to do by now but I kind of like it. I don't like the stress so much but nothing stirs the juices like delivering on time and having a successful field campaign. I probably just jinxed the shit out of myself so I'll just leave it at that. The downside is the distraction from the real things that matter at home. This time around it's not too bad but being gone at work for a few weekends and then going away for ten days isn't such a nice way to treat one's spouse. This one really sucks since Jasper's spring break falls on the week before I go and the last week is usually particularly hard to get away. I'm trying to do the front end work so it won't be too bad (yeah right).

Ug. I think this will be the first week that I simply can't notch my training goals since I decided to embrace an actual factual training plan. The above work foo combined with rainy weather and the deterioration of my rollers have conspired against me along with an unnecessarily long hard day last weekend that was off the program and a good lesson on why you stay on the program. I found myself walking up from my garage yesterday morning in the rain at 6:15 after having spent 90 minutes on my decrepit rollers wondering, "WTF am I doing?!!??" But I couldn't sleep anyway so it made sense to get up early and hit the garage.

Sleeping has been weird lately. I've gone through some real lapses in regular sleep in my life but, in general, being fit and regular exercise brings some balance. But that has kind of not been working lately. I either find myself too wired to get to sleep and stay up too late or I am bone weary exhausted, fall asleep too early but then end up waking up at 2:30 to 4:00 in the morning and then laying awake. (Of course I always end up falling asleep 5 minutes before my alarm goes off...).

One of the things I lay awake thinking about is how to improve my fleet of jalopy bikes. The bitch of racing four disciplines is that I have four times the race bikes to maintain and wish I could improve. If I spring for a set fast track wheels, I have to continue living with 12 year old components on my road racer. If I buy new brakes for the cyclocross bike, I have to keep clunking along with a low shelf level fork that is falling apart on my mountain bike. It never fucking ends! So I decided I'm just going to go ahead and concentrate on one bike at a time. And after careful consideration, I decided my mountain bike is the bike most likely to fall apart. I ebayed, I bike shop talked, I online shopped, and in the end I decided I actually like my Tomac frame so I'm keeping it and tossing everything else. It's going to cost about the price of a new bike but when I'm done I'll have a better component group and wheels than a similarly priced new bike. And I'm thinking it won't be too unrealistic to see the old Johnny T come in under 21 pounds. W00t!

So that is that. Why? Why not?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zzzzzz: Shh, don't wake the blog. It's sleeping.

So this is what it's come to? If I'm not race reporting or thinking about racing I don't post diddly-doo? It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time I used this as an attempt to keep the writing gears lubed and there was more substance to it.
It's true! Just look! There's also plenty of pictures of me rocking an extra 50 pounds! Wowzers.


See kids! Just keep riding your bikes and you too can lead a healthful lifestyle driven by guilt, self flogging, pain, suffering, starvation, binge eating, guilt, and heaping doses of self importance.

Where was I. Oh yeah, the blog. When I started out I had the goal of forcing myself to continue a lifetime of neglectfully practicing writing by committing to two posts per week. At some point I grew quite tired of this and when I started riding again, I went through a strange period of posting blogs as if this were a training log. That was even boring to me and that, my fair reader (yeah right, as if that were anyone else but me and I'm not very fair. In fact I can be a pretty biased mother fucker when I really let my hair down. Not that I have much hair to let down. In fact I think cycling has rapidly increased the deforested real estate above my increasingly busy eyebrows. I blame it on helmet usage and clogged pores from too many lunch time rides followed by hasty spit baths in the sink. Did you know I have a sink in my laboratory? It's damn handy. I'm not really sure why they call it a laboratory. I grew up thinking of a laboratory as a room filled with boiling beakers and steaming vials and a monster being built over in the corner. My lab is really just a big room where I spend the day doing shit. Mostly that shit involves wondering how the heck am I supposed to know how to do any of this stuff they think I know how to do? It's astounding really. If they knew how truly incompetent I am they'd probably change the locks and throw away the key.), was quickly followed by a rapid decrease in content and a rapid increase in self congratulatory bragging about my mediocre racing adventures.

You know what? It's almost 10 PM and I have a really annoying date with the rollers for 5:15AM tomorrow morning. See? Bike racing is really healthy. Unhealthy people lay around in bed getting fat and "resting" for their "work" day while us healthy goody goods spend 90 minutes on the rollers chasing an elusive M1 tempo workout staring at a heart rate monitor and making sweat puddles on the garage floor.

I probably should just let the blog sleep. I think I've risked over-sharing enough for now.