From Dark to Light

My bike sat on the indoor trainer, mocking me. Each day for a week was going to be the day I got back to my training program. But each day “life got in the way.”

This happens sometimes, and when life is really good, and training suffers, that’s OK. Or when life is really bad, while not “OK” it is easy to use the training as a way to dig out of a dark hole and start to make life good again.

But when there isn’t anything specific getting in the way of training, it’s hard to accept. When you are simply having those days where you can’t motivate yourself, that is not OK. And those days tend to build upon each other and start to weigh on you. Each one makes that next day’s decision, to train or not to train, that much more difficult.

For eight days after the brutally cold Grant’s Tomb Crit, I was stuck in this funk. For eight days I felt the darkness weighing on me – and getting heavier along with my body weight. Sure, “life” threw me a few curve balls; but none of them big enough to beat me down. This was just a mental detour, and I needed to get back on my path.

Then I read, “The Pep Talk You Need Right Now,” a short blog post by Chris Carmichael. It was like he was watching me the last eight days; he was in my apartment, he was in my head. And I realized that this is such a common place for athletes in training to find themselves, so it’s also a common place to escape.

Yesterday I got on the trainer at 5:30 AM and did a tough 60-minute program. It hurt. A lot. But I felt so much better for doing it. I was physically slower all day at work, but mentally uplifted.

Late in the afternoon my teammate Ethan posted to Slack, “anyone up for a casual spin in Central Park tonight?” It was 60F outside after a few cold days and with 25F predicted the next, so I really wanted to get outside. But I had a late office meeting, so I declined.

Thirty minutes later, the meeting was rescheduled and I was free to ride. Ethan and I recruited Gavin to join us, and hit the park for a sunset spin. My legs fried from the morning workout, I road a casual pace and the three of us rode, talked, laughed, and just enjoyed wearing our new team kits. (They don’t include cold weather gear, so haven’t been worn outdoors until this ride.) It was terrific, and 27-miles later as I rolled up to my apartment, I knew that any little bit of darkness that remained from the last 8-days was gone.

It wasn’t a particularly solid training day, and I’ve undoubtedly lost some recent gains. But I will not harp on that and I will not beat myself up. As Carmichael said,

“This is what I have right now, and today’s effort will make me better.”

So get out there and make yourself better. Yesterday no longer matters. And every small step towards your goal means you are closer.

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