All of this mountain biking and offroad running has, unintentionally, done just what it needed for me. Through all the boo boos and stumbles, it has re-lit my fire. I WANT to work out now. This summer I got to a point where “work out” had somehow turned into a four letter word… It was the classic definition of futility… Doing the exact same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.
I have no visions of dropping everything and running (or riding) off into the woods. But I needed to be reminded about the whole “exercise is fun” thing. It got too serious. I think I put too much pressure on myself after I bought the million dollar bicycle to try to perform at that level, which was stupid. I got frustrated and almost gave up completely. Mountain biking and trail running, although I have a goal of eventually running some adventure/Xterra type races, is really pure fun for me. I can’t go fast, so I don’t try. Finishing a ride or run upright and not bleeding (OK… a little blood is cool) is the main goal. And in between, there are those sections I could ride better or run faster. But nothing humbles you like a trail. I have fallen for no apparent reason and gone back to areas I rode cleanly and had no idea how I did it.
I think the extra focus you have to have when on the trails is a very helpful mental exercise. Most ride/runs on the road I would just set my body at a pace and then mentally check out. You are not allowed to do this on the trail and pay a dear price for inattention. This type of negative feedback ups your mental game… painfully…!
Although I love the isolation that trails provide, I find I’m a better rider or runner when I go out with a group. Maybe watching everybody elses’ line helps. And seeing them clear things I didn’t think were possible gives me confidence that it can be done (even if I can’t do it yet).
In those brief moments between oxygen debt, sheer terror and exhilaration on the trail when my mind does wander, it always goes back to triathlons though so I think that is still my first love. I need to get back in the pool and get my bike on the trainer. I also need to plan next year’s schedule as soon as the dates are available. I need to research some race wheels. There is a lot to do. I do know that I want to do at least one off road triathlon and other than that I’m just doing sprint distance next year. It’s fast, fun and doesn’t take forever to train for. I think that’s just what I need, too!