Upping the Mental Game

mental game pic

Being motivated is hard. Or should I say there is a challenge inherent in trying to keep yourself motivated.

It’s important for two reasons. The first is that you need motivation to get yourself on a schedule and keep with it. The second is that you need motivation each and every day to keep your workouts performing at the level you want them at.

That is why, in addition to working out you need to work on your mental game.  That is why, in every area where self improvement is desired, self help books are always best sellers. Use them and any other tool you can. Join a group, get a mentor, hire a coach. Whatever works for you will be well worth the time and expense in the long run.

How many times have you started and exercise routine, started a diet, decided to get things done, and then in a few weeks or months, somehow, it all went by the wayside? It’s not just you, it’s the human condition.

Which is not to say that failure is not on you. It is. So this time, in the days when your workout is new and your motivation is off the charts, put success on the front burner along with the new bike, or the new shoes, or the new exercise routine.

Don’t go it alone and then when things start to taper off go and find some book or guru to help you out of your funk. By then it’s too late.

Make a mental workout part of your routine from the very beginning.

Here’s on example of a guide to get you started. The Champion’s Mind. That’s not the only applicable text, but if you don’t have a clue, you can start there.

Much like raising children, fill your mind with good information that you might not use now, but will come to you in your time of need.

It is important that when self defeatist talk inches it’s way between you and good health, that you have the tools ready to recognize it and combat it. So read not to fix things now, read so you are prepared to do combat with yourself when the time arises.

The Open Road

open road

Serenity is the open road. I am pretty sure that saying was not originated as a paean to the joy of bicycling, but it is  apropos. There are few things more peaceful than finding the right gear and letting the beauty of your surroundings and the rhythm of the wheels and your pedal strokes ease you into a state of mindful mindlessness.

In much the way a ride on a wooded path can wake you to the beauty of your surroundings, a ride on the open road can give you a sense of joy. Unlike the small detailed view that you might get riding through the hemmed in tree lined paths through a forest, a ride on the open road can give you  sense of the boundless beauty of wide expanses. A sudden hill on a wooded path will have you focusing intently on where you are going and what might be in your way planning on giving you grief.

Coming upon  a downhill on a well surfaced highway is the exact opposite. One quick glance to verify the quality of the road up ahead, and you can lift your head to appreciate the expanse that spreads out before you. An experience like that can make the toil of struggling up inclines on a road all worth it.

A good road trip can leave you open to the world. You start with a map of the day and a general idea of how long it’s going to take to get from your morning departure point to the end of the day rest, and beyond that everything is new. But it’s not really new, because riding on the road is riding on the road, it’s only the surroundings that are varied. And that is the point. The physical effort can be anything you want it to be, and once you enter the place where the effort recedes to the background, it becomes an old familiar friend that just accents the day and the newness.

The road. The woods. They are the same. They bring you out of yourself and into something greater.

Unless of course you are the other kind. Push it to the limits and find the limits of yourself from deep withing yourself.

And that has a beauty all its own.

The joy of the woods

There is a saying – “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” Though the saying itself has to do with a myopic vision that misses the big picture, I would say that there is another way to look at it. Or at least a positive spin to be put on the same context.

The fact is that much of the stress of every day life can be attributed to the big picture. To the forest as it were. When you jump on a bike and disappear into the forest your vision narrows. The big worries of the day disappear into the limited sitelines and the need to get from point a to point be while keeping your wits about you.

Of course this is speaking from the point of view of someone who is treating riding the trails as a high powered way to deal with stress. Pushing the physical limits that have held one back so far. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in doing the same thing from a place of peace. Of casually riding through the woods and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of nature for the wonder that it is.

It is hard to truly appreciate nature when you are trying hard not to let nature jump up and bit you in the ass. But that is not a way of looking at things that is right for everyone, though it might do everyone good to spend a little time with that attitude just to learn to appreciate how much that take no prisoners attitude can mean when it comes to taking on and overcoming the challenges that come with living in the modern day world.

Well that’s me getting carried away again. I will try to keep  that sort of preachiness to a minimum from here on out. No guarantees though.