Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Negative Thoughts

The other day, we went out on a 50+ mile ride along the Harvest Moon course.  It was going to be a last big ride before our race this weekend, so I was mentally prepared and even excited for it.  Unfortunately, that didn't last long.

The morning of, I didn't wake up in a good place.  Not sure why - just didn't.  Wrong side of the bed perhaps?  I don't know, but I was a tad grumbly and that carried into the start of the ride.  You might say that I started off the ride with negativity.

We all know that negative thoughts and negative energy will impact you in long-distance racing.  We've all been there; you are doing okay, not having a bad workout, but not a good workout either.  Suddenly negative thoughts enter our heads and the workout takes a quick nosedive.  I've heard that 90% of racing is mental, so you can assume training is even more mental.  

Without going into a lot of details, I struggled for most of the ride, and around mile 35, my aero pad snapped off.  The metal fatigued somewhere on the bracket holding up my aero pad and bent/broke, and suddenly I had one aero pad.  After much cursing and screaming, I eventually caught up to T and showed her what happened.  I made it abundantly clear that I was not enjoying myself and was frustrated with the ride in general.  We rode together for a bit, but I told her to ride ahead of me as I wanted to be alone.

As we turned onto Quincy Road to ride back to the res, I was muttering a lot of things to myself that I don't want to repeat here.  I look back on it and am in awe of how deep my negativity went.  To make matters worse, I took a tumble on my bike and ended up in a ditch.  No worse for the wear, I kept pressing on, cursing and nearly crying.  

At 50 miles, I still patted myself on the back for making it 50 miles on a broken bike and a broken mind.  T had pedaled much faster than I and had gotten the car, sag wagoning me at 51.15 miles.  My horrible, negative ride was over.

So why is it so hard to be positive?  Or more aptly, why is it hard to shake negativity when it enters your brain?

I've done some sports psychology reading, but the answers are more complicated than just reading a book and repeating positive mantras.  Our brains are amazing tools; no one disputes that.  But the levels and hidden corners of our brains have an uncanny way of popping negativity at the time when we need them to release those happy chemicals (dopamine?  I think?) they instead release mental toxins.  

I've tried doing the power of positive thinking, which has mixed results.  I've tried repeating positive statements, to mixed results.  

I think sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a workout just sucks.


1 comment:

  1. Preach. I’ve had rides like that where, looking back, I can’t remember why I was so mad. But you got it done! That’s the important part.

    Don’t get too high. Don’t get too low.

    Sometimes I try to tell myself that I am practicing for the ‘mental toughness’ portion of a race when these spells hit. It typically doesn’t work though…’angry Sam’ usually tells ‘zen Sam’ he is full of sh*t.