I was only a few miles into my ride yesterday morning when they started.
Not the “I’m crazy and hear voices” kinda voices… although…. I am crazy… but in that good kinda crazy way…anyway… I digress….
I left knowing the weather was less than impressive. Foggy, wet, drizzling, soupy… overall kinda just yucky.
The kind of weather sane people stay inside and OUT of.
My thought was… “oh, it’s gonna be clearing out soon” but that thought was leaving me as I watched water dripping off my helmet and I had to repeatedly pull of my glasses to clean them ( yes, even on dark and wet mornings glasses are essential on a bike)
The voices started talking…. suggesting things like…
“So this weather isn’t so nice, you can just do a short ride and head home”
“Do you really feel like riding so far out ? All those hills you know? in this weather ?”
“Do you really have the time to ride so far this morning?”
“Knocking a few miles off won’t really matter… really… it won’t”
The annoying chatter continued.
I started considering some of the things rolling through my head. I guess it wouldn’t matter if I cut my ride short… would it ? And yeah, the weather wasn’t so impressive…
I began to mentally push those thoughts away, slowly and deliberately.
You see, I have had some experience with those “voices” as my athletic adventures have unfolded these past couple years.
Those voices offer excuses. They offer an easier way out. They try and convince you that you don’t have what it takes. They tell you that you aren’t strong enough, fast enough, young enough… whatever….They try and keep you happily in your comfort zone.
Our comfort zone is where we stagnate and die.
I first heavily encountered “the voices” during my first marathon in 2013. It was the end of November and a ridiculously hot 89 degree day. Running was brutal under the solid blue sky and unending sun. By mile 21 I was praying for deliverance. … but I am to stupid, crazy, stubborn to ever give in.
The voices started reminding me that the cool down buses were “right there” where I was running. I could go in and cool off for a little and then continue the race. It would be so easy.. just stop for a few minutes. After all, I had been working so hard. 21 miles was a long way, and even longer when the heat was so unbearable.
I passed one, and kept moving. The next one, the pull was stronger. The call louder. I did feel weak… weak against the temptation of what was offered and physically… I was getting depleted on almost every level and it seemed so easy to give in to it.
But I knew better. I knew physically if I just stopped what my muscles would do. I knew how hard it would be to start again and go back out into the heat and finish those last 5.2 miles. I knew how I’d be so displeased with myself when my time suffered ( I’m so competitive with myself)
I stomped the voices down. I refocused on my goals. I dug deeper in myself beyond what I thought I had in me to finish that race. And I did… it was the sweetest feeling ever crossing that finish line physically, emotionally, and mentally spent. It was one of the most victorious moments of my life.
You know what I gained that day? Strength. Strength in knowing that I could overcome and prevail and I had more in me than I understood at that point. I learned that there would be times those voices would rise up to convince me I couldn’t do something or didn’t have it in me and that I had to fight right back against them.
Oh, there have been many other times since then. But now I know what they’re about…those voices are from the weakest part of me… to a great degree I’ve learned to tame them, stomp them down, and press on.
So back to the bike ride…. yeah… you know now what happened. I reminded myself that if I quit, how disappointed I’d be that I had given up. I thought of how I was not only getting physically stronger, but mentally too. That if I was to get to my goals of doing a bike race it would take hard training and training in not so ideal weather. I reminded myself that I would run in weather like I had that morning, cycling wasn’t so different ( ok yeah maybe I shouldn’t take those curves and stuff as fast 😉
The more I pedaled, water dripping off me in the foggy morning, the more determined I got and the quieter the voices became.
I finished up my full ride of about 20 miles… and it felt pretty darn good on more levels than one…. and by the time I was done… I had dried out 😉
A reminder, perhaps to you. When you feel like giving up and quitting, don’t. Your biggest competitor is within you…. that is who you work against every single time.
When the voices rise up against you ( and I know… some of you will totally get this) push back, work hard, and don’t give in to them.
There’s a new, stronger you, waiting to emerge.