By Ursula Cafaro
“I know I’ll sign up for that time trial but I need to be ready.”
Any of these sentences ever cross your mind? Ever have them escape out of your mouth? Truth now!
“Sign up for a charity ride, when you’re ready.” Ever get that advice?
What if I told you that I could get you to be ready in two…no…one second flat. Would you believe me? Would you be game?
Okay, brace yourself, here it is:
D E C I D E
See it didn’t hurt.
First things first. When you say or think that you don’t feel ready, what you really mean is “I feel scared.” There’s really nothing to get ready. Now let’s be clear, deciding doesn’t mean that you don’t train — two different things. What ‘getting ready’ really means is, “I’ll pull at the front once I get over the fear.” “I’ll climb that super big hill once the knot in my gut goes away…when I stop breaking out in a sweat…when the birds stop fluttering against my chest. Here’s the thing: that’s never going happen. And deciding happens even before you begin to train. In fact, it’s the first step to getting into the mindset that will enable you to train.
Taking a risk, making a change, stepping outside your comfort zone is all about confronting your fears - you truly need to get your brain around that reality. That doesn’t mean you need to get OVER that reality, it means you need to WITHSTAND that reality. That’s a huge distinction. Once you understand that, you will continue to feel that two-hundred-pound gorilla sitting on your chest but you need to move forward anyway. Then you’ve made a fundamental tectonic shift in how your brain processes change or challenge or risk.
Take building endurance. The only way to build endurance on a bike (or in any sport for that matter) is to WITHSTAND discomfort for a period of time. The objective being that you extend that period of discomfort by just a little bit, each time. You don’t eliminate that burn in the legs or level out the grade in the hill, rather, you withstand them.
Mind over matter is another way of looking at it. You don’t eliminate matter, you withstand it. You understand matter in a different way, you in fact, project yourself beyond that matter and to the other side. So, you project yourself up and over that hill, the task accomplished, knowing in retrospect how good it feels to have moved forward in spite of the fear.
That’s the first step: Understanding that it’s fear making you feel ‘unready’ and that fear will stay with you.
Now about DECIDING.
There are a lot of reasons people can’t make decisions but I would classify most of them under the auspices of procrastination. Procrastination is a funny thing because it can sound so logical and sane, but in reality is anything but. Take wanting to pull at your next ride but not feeling ready, procrastination will go something like this:
1) I need more data: I need to know the WATTS I’m generating in order to know whether I’m strong enough (in other words ready) to pull.
2) The data needs to be perfect: I want exact numbers so I need to hunt down a WATTS meter with the least margin of error.
3) I need certainty: I need to account for all the variables — wind, terrain, etc, when calculating my WATTS so that I’m prepared for every eventuality when I pull at the front.
4) The certainty needs to be absolute: I will have to do a couple of trial runs of the exact distance and place I’m going to pull to make sure I’ve accounted for everything.
5) And on and on.
In case you missed it, all these reasons are fear-based, the fear of failing, the fear of looking stupid, the fear of not measuring up. By any other name…it is still fear. It’s fear, cleverly disguised as ‘preparation’ that will make you feel overwhelmed which in turn leads to procrastination.
In addition to the undercurrent of fear, there are two even more common reasons that hamstring people from being able to decide: a) People aren’t clear about what they’re deciding on and b) They don’t know how they’re going to get clarity.
If you pardon the circularity of this argument, all you really need to do is DECIDE. I know, it’s a real conundrum that’ll leave you chasing your tail for a very long time.
But here’s the thing: at some point, you need to decide that you have all the data, and decide that the certainty you presently have, is going to be good enough. PERIOD. And unless you’re splitting the atom or performing open heart surgery, when we’re talking about overcoming fear so that we can make a decision and move forward, good enough…is, well…good enough.
The reality is that 365 days will tick-tock by whether you like it or not. So ask yourself, Do you want to be where you are right now, in 52 weeks still whining about getting ready? Or, do you want to be somewhere else? A place where you can look around and say, ‘hot damn, I pulled,’ ‘I finished the time trial,’ ‘ I tried a TRI’. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have made the decision to move forward and kick some bee-hind to boot?
So the question is this, where do you want to be? DECIDE.
If you can’t decide, let me ask you one last question, what are you getting out of waiting to be ready?
When not riding fat-tires along the Trans Canada Trail through Caledon Ontario, Ursula Cafaro is leading an optimal ride indoors. Ursula is also a writer and a documentary filmmaker with a focus on empowering women. She is currently working on a multi-media project entitled The Flight Imperative,http://flightimperative.blogspot.com.
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