How overcoming your fear can change your outlook.
I’d like to share a story about how cycling gave me the courage to overcome my own fear. We all experience fear in life. In our minds we tend to think of the worst case scenario so we do everything possible to avoid it. Interestingly, it often turns out not as bad we think.
Cycling towards success
I am training for a century ride in August (#womens100). Today was my first day practicing to “attack hills”. Let’s just say the hills taught me a few lessons.
I fell twice today and luckily didn’t get hurt. In fact, it was liberating and to some degree inspiring. When I switched to wearing cycling shoes and toe clips, experienced riders told me that I would fall. They had too. Before the first few rides, I diligently practiced snapping in and out of the clips at least 50 times on both legs. The thought of falling and breaking something scared me.
Facing a fear removes a heavy emotional weight and interestingly, gives you the courage to face other things that you might be avoiding.
Lessons from my ride
1/ Fuel your body for the challenge
A wrong turn can turn a short ride into a very long one. Alan from Reeves Training recommends food that has a combination of good carbs and protein. It can be as simple as a PB&J sandwich made with whole wheat bread or a Cliff bar. You should be eating something every hour to stay properly fueled on a ride.
2/ Prepare for the current conditions
One water bottle may be plenty for your typical ride in cooler months but as the weather gets warmer it’s a good idea to take two bottles to stay properly hydrated. As a general rule, you should be continuously sipping water rather than waiting to feel thirsty. If you’re gulping water when you stop, it’s a sign that you need to drink more frequently.
3/ Lower your performance expectations in a new environment
Exploring a new route adds to the element of difficulty because it is harder to anticipate changes. It’s a good example of life and likely the very reason people hate change. However, there is a richness to it because life teaches us valuable lessons when we change things up.
Today I was riding a new route, a challenging course and somehow I got lost. I tried back tracking to find the right turn but ended up taking another wrong turn. My first fall was on that turn. I was still in a big gear from the descent and struggling to gain speed when I turned into a really steep hill. My speed quickly dropped and I quickly found myself on the ground. Luckily the ground was soft and the lack of witnesses kept my ego intact.
Rather than trying to find the more familiar path I decided to ride the rest of the new route. The second fall came shortly after and for the exact same reason. I didn’t shift gears fast enough from the descent and found myself without the speed or the right gear needed to make it up the next hill. I fell over again. This time on concrete with two sweet older ladies watching from their car. They were so concerned for my wellbeing and likely found it odd that I was laughing about it. What can I say, sometimes you have to repeat the mistake to learn the lesson.
Lessons applied to life
Shift gears faster after a big decent or you’ll fall down on the next climb. Learning to shift gears quickly is an essential skill to survive and thrive in business and life.
Are you shifting mental gears fast enough to skillfully navigate all the different aspects of life or are you constantly unprepared for the next step? How do you respond when things go wrong? What could you do better to prepare for the current conditions?
Sports helps you build resilience to stay the course
Sports teach you so many wonderful life lessons. Cycling is one that you can do at any age and at any size, shape or condition. Based on my experience, you don’t have to do it well to get the benefits.
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