A time or two I fell into the ways of a common saying, expressing I have a love-hate relationship with the bicycle. As logic dictates, this expression is erroneous and nothing but an illusion, because regardless of my affirmations the bike has remained neutral and I’m pretty sure it has never loved nor hated me. Of course in our logic we know this, and yet we still manage to state what is not. Habit? Excuse? Self-sabotage? And, why?
I bring this up because this specific workout session on the bike taught me lots. Aware of many limits that needed to be broken I hopped on the machine and pedaled, focusing only on my breathing. The first indication that things were changing for the better came when Amaru (my trainer and boss) asked if I had been doing something during my three-week holiday, because I was performing much better than I had before. No, I hadn’t worked on my cardio for over three weeks; the only difference was that this time I wanted my cycling session to be better.
As I kept going and many minutes passed the first recognizable signs of tiredness appeared: my legs felt heavy and my breathing was coming out of synch. Soon after I focused on these signs it was like my mental auto-pilot kicked in and immediately jumped into old ways. “I can’t!” I said.
As soon as the words came out of my mouth my awareness came back, allowing me to learn a valuable lesson. I noticed how instantly after saying the words my legs felt many times heavier, each pedal a difficult task. I could sense my body slouching by the second, pain on my shoulders. The heat coming from my face was so intense it reminded me of the sensation previous to passing out. I felt like I was shrinking into a puddle of sweat that would quickly dissolve entirely. I gave myself a moment to observe what I had done, not mad or reprimanding, simply knowing. I corrected myself out loud “Yes I can.” and my eyes fixed on a spot on the wall as my conscious effort to overcome mental barriers began.
I visualized myself riding the bike through a beautiful forest, up a hill and down another. Then I saw myself pushing hard to finish a race in first place. I even had an inner chuckle when I thought to myself ‘just pedal like you stole something’ (nice to know that even in times of full concentration I can keep my sense of humor!). At some point I noticed Amaru had been talking for a while, and I tuned in just to hear “You’re not even hearing what I say right now, you’re gone into another world. Good. Keep going.”
And I did. For a total of 32 kilometers, which is much much more than I had ever done before.