The Switch: Looking back, moving forward
Who do you want to become?
My cycling “career” started in 2012, when I did my first long event. That event was the GFNY World Championship Gran Fondo and I didn’t finish it; I got lost on the way back and mistakenly rode many miles north instead of south to the finish line. Reflecting on that first DNF, I came to realize the obvious you have to train for these things! My first GFNY finish happened in 2013, in less than ideal conditions. In the years following that first taste of success, I made sure to train as consistently as possible. As a result, I’ve reduced the time it takes me to finish the course by about 45 minutes each year.
One thing I always joke about when I talk about my goals is that I “want to turn pro”. After the laughter and skeptical glances, I then go on to explain what I mean when I say “pro”. I don’t mean being a paid professional racing cyclist. I mean I want to become the person who has the discipline and work ethic to be the best I can be in any event I compete in. Therefore, “Be a Pro for a Day” means being a pro every day. It means designing your life to accommodate training and racing so that you achieve the best possible result. For me winning a race or placing top 10 would be incredible, however what I really value is the process of becoming a person who achieves those things.
I’ve always wanted to work with a coach, and I jumped at the opportunity to do so this season. It’s been an incredible journey. The main benefit is that I have an “accountability partner”; my coach can see the workouts I’ve done (or not done) and will adjust the plan accordingly. Also, I know I’m more likely to do a workout if it’s scheduled and I see it on my calendar.
Working with a coach has resulted in the greatest leap in my fitness. Specifically, my ability to recover from hard efforts has improved dramatically and that ability to recover has caught me by surprise a few times in races.
The Hard Times
Training is hard. Add to that difficulty the need to be disciplined enough to ride indoors on a trainer for hours during the week, and then maybe more hours indoors on the weekend because of bad winter weather.
I’ve had many great sessions, feeling my self improve over the weeks and months. However, as many a cyclist will tell you, most of the time you’re training alone. Finding motivation to suffer through a hard session can be difficult. But, it’s worth it. I see it when I look back on where I started, and compare that to where I am now. My coach regularly points out the areas of improvement, which serves as motivation for the next phases of training.
There’s a famous quote that I find really helpful for my goal setting.
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
With that in mind, my next goal is to line up for the Masters National Championship race in 2020. I haven’t shared this goal with my coach yet, but I’m certain once I do we’ll start planning my training around it.
Follow my Journey
I started this series as a journal. I’ll use it to catalog my progress towards my goal, including all the ups and downs. I’m calling this series “the Switch” in reference to what happens once the whistle blows and the race begins. Some people call it “killer instinct”; I call mine “the switch” as it’s more descriptive of what happens for me. At some point in competition a light gets flipped on and I get into full race mode. Everything fades leaving only the objective. To achieve greatness.
What are your goals? What are you training for? Share them in the comments; let’s talk!