Monday, August 26, 2013

Back in the sunshine

A lack of blog updates for quite a while reflected my recent disillusionment with cycling.
After lots and lots of training, and feeling incredibly “ready” to race, I had a personally soul-destroying performance at Battle on the Border back in May.  I didn’t even survive the first hour with the bunch.  The problem?  Muscle cramps again.  Hands, feet, legs, you name it.  Despite the many hours of doctor visits, blood tests, second and third opinion referrals, weight training, improving core strength and flexibility, diet changes, bike set-up changes, and supplement additions, I was still getting these frustrating cramps in races.  
Why?  Well it seems it was all in my head.  Race nerves.  Too much pressure on myself.  Thankfully just before I was about to toss the bike away, I visited a sports psychologist for one last try at finding an answer. 

Initially I was resistant to the idea that I could be sabotaging my own race performances inside my own head.  But then the more we talked about it, the more I realised I had turned a much-loved hobby into a horrible experience simply by thinking about it the wrong way.  I had started to hate racing because of my fear that I would not race well, and I was doubting all of my abilities even though I was doing all the right training.  It was a vicious cycle.  Then to top it all off, not long after Battle, I was hit by a car while out riding my bike.  It was almost the last straw for me to give it all up.

Luckily I was reminded by friends how much enjoyment my bike riding and racing used to give me, and why I started it all in the first place.  The sports psychologist helped me recognise that I was being far too self-doubting and negative, and worrying about things that were completely out of my control.  My mind, my “inner chimp”, was out of control.  (If you have read The Chimp Paradox, written by Dr Steve Peters, you'll know what I mean.)
Although it's still a work in progress, I can finally say that I like riding my bike again.  I want to get up and train in the mornings, and I want to race with friends on the weekend.  So thankful I didn't throw all that away.  Thanks again to Mental Notes Consulting :)

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