Just sit back and "Enjoy the ride" they say! Do it for the love! Living The Dream! No matter your hashtag, or how loosely termed, we all face an individual battle for the top step. Where motivation is skewed as fuel for the fire, when the body says no and your mind says yes. Why facing any set back is the perfect time to reflect, what the nervous system is up against as normal. To trigger fight after fight, day after day getting stronger over time but only in accordance with proper nutrition and healthy habits will an athlete "succeed" in the long haul. When the mental strength is bombarded on a constant basis from intervals, consistency, and training stress, an athlete increases an individual psychological fitness adaption that excels over time. But in the long scheme of things to the lesser extent of an over achiever, and to a point of exhaustion or the classic "over-training". Especially in bike racing, success is derived from perceived failures, and from experience or even sometimes winning. But don't always force to try and make everything perfect. Find a coach you can rely on to meet your needs, and just go for it and have fun.
Wheather in the break or off the back, one can only expend so much energy. No matter how much work you put into active recovery, rest days are not onlybeneficial, but necessary. I have experienced personally emotionally attacking myself, from errors I made, or training I had done leading up to that race, missing that opportunity, or even having said "I could have gone harder." All in turn are growing moments for an athlete to mature, and most importantly part of the frame work. But don't let that repeated fire be misused. An experienced athlete knows that recovery is where the real gains are made. Some athletes pick it up quicker than others, and most times there is a wide range of fitness levels between races, group rides, and where the athlete is in their season. Not to belittle the team aspect, of team sport, but one needs to put experience to talent on those good days to outwit the next rider. In a sport with selfish endeavors and usually some luck, plotting the next move is the purpose of intuition and response. The endurance world is all about mental strength, rhythm, adaptation and the obvious nutrition. So once an athlete gets to an elite level, basic concentration techniques can be used subconsciously to stimulate a natural trigger response from a focused effort even on a bad day. Kinda like meditation! There are many stress responses one can overcome but sometimes its un-avoidable and the ability to cope with the unexpected is in the eye of the beholder.
The fitness bench started out of the idea, how relating to others plagued by injury and how all have to deal with set backs, in some form or another. From missing a workout, to getting back into a routine, for some far more difficult than others, the aftermath reality that strikes, of getting back to your routine can be a challenge. These are key times for an athlete to keep pushing the envelop. Don't stop out of uncomfort tho, embrace the journey. Beyond suffering is opportunity to grow. Living in the moment is one of life's challenges and what better way to do so thru meditation and deep breathing in the form of cycling. On June 12, 2012 I faced the biggest life change I've ever experienced, when I broke my neck. Then and still today, there is a battle of disability, from arm movement restriction, stiff neck, and back pain. But this was my cup of joe really, a blessing in disguise, a time to reflect and move on to what was really in store. I've always had a strong mental fight even from my youth, and when I left the hospital in a wheel chair three days later, neck brace, arm sling and all, but something inside me changed. Ironic enough the incident almost didn't faze me entirely. Abnormally calm and excepting what had happened, I just went thru the motions and strangely enough time flew by. What more motivation does one need to move on and get healthy, than an injury. Something inside me was saying this is not the end, yet the next chapter.
Prior to bike racing I was skateboarding for 10 years literally 24/7. Being active and outside was my "comfort zone" and too young to travel with older friends and getting "bored" of the same local spots, something else came in like never before. Bicycles! Not only did bikes take over my life, but it totally took hold of me. The escape, the journey, and your legs as the engine, and food being fuel was totally gratifying and such a simple pleassure. Just seeing someone else riding a bike made me jealous when I wasn't riding. Their cadence, their position, to their mannerisms grabbed me too, where I just wanted to pedal away the day. In 2012, before the life altering injury, I was getting into new ways of food, and health for the first time. Not really knowing what I was doing I started experimenting with eating plant based and that too totally clicked. Plants too were heavily increased and my eating habits enhanced for the good. Something inside me was begging for change. I really wanted to get healthy but wasn't sure how, or what to do, but that definition had changed over time and a new lifestyle was emerging. A growing passion to make cycling even more enjoyable, and to feel good, I even ended up selling my car to ride bikes permanently from commuting and adventures, to going out of town with a backpack with bare necessities. It just made life seem simpler and make the most sense. A total stress relief, day after day. It was then I started working in coffee on the side to supplement my cycling journey and make way to whatever the future had in store. After the injury I was in the hospital with a new found diet and lifestyle, and would not touch hospital food to save my life. My older sis Kim had brought me snacks and Indian food to keep me on track. I still can't believe hospital food today is still lacking a healthy nutrient dense variety for people who need it most, but that's another topic for other day. We all suffer from some sort of health concern at one point or another. It has been an experience I've never looked back on and plants based powered me thru a cat 5 beginner racer to a cat 1 stage racer in three years.
100% Plant based might not work for everyone at first, but it's true that a 90% plant based diet is at the least one of the most health promoting ways of eating today. Some of my most recent inspiration has been the ultimate health podcast, Rich Roll thought for food and Brendan Brazier. With skeptics and fads ever so rapidly changing and with social media and peer pressure, from culture, to religion, some find this a hard veggie to swallow. But we live in a world where people judge for no good reason. If we as plant enthusiasts embrace and share it with others in a non selfish way or point fingers, everyone can benefit without feeling weird or like they are missing out. I've never made food claims or attached myself to a label, but more over the choices we make will have a profound impact on not only us but our surroundings. So try something different, educate yourself, and find what works best for you! Not all will want to help themselves, and for those we cannot influence. So be the light when talking with others on the subject. With an alarming state of health concerns like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc. the list goes on, exercise and diet are keys to your health and wellness. And for athletes increases recovery and performance. No one has all the answers but the past few years have taught me a ton and have influenced me to share my journey, and start a Health Coaching business and cycling coaching. I want to use the fitness bench as a platform to share and give back what life has taught me so far. We as humans can only be present for one life! Be a student of everything, live moments out of your comfort zone, sleep deep and thrive on. Find your fitness bench, and enjoy the ride!