It’s a common practice for runners and competitors of endurance sports—once the event’s over, you start planning for the next one. No matter how tired you were at the finish line or how much you cursed running/cycling/swimming three-quarters to the way to the finish line, the first thought soon after the race is: “So, what do I sign up for next?”
I’ve been reading up on local upcoming century rides for the last week and a half since I finished my century ride. Despite questioning my choices at mile 70, I’m stoked to start training for another full century. And while there are a few on the calendar here in Southern California, it’s difficult to peg which one to do, especially since we’re looking to move out of the area by the end of the year. So how can I keep my motivation to ride when I don’t have a full Century looming ahead of me?
The short answer: it’s hard. Yesterday I went on my first ride at lunch since I did the century on the 1 st of the month and I have to admit that it was difficult to rally myself to ride. Plus, my accountability partner, a co-worker who I ride with three times a week during our lunch hour, is on vacation this week. When I got on the road, I was happy that I went, and even shaved 5 minutes off of my time. And after conquering the intimidating “Purple Monster,” the hills on my lunch route suddenly didn’t seem so big and scary. But, I realized that need to reconnect with my ‘why.’
Why do I cycle? Most importantly, why do I want to do century rides? The answer is simple: I do it because up until a few years ago I couldn’t. I didn’t grow up an athletic kid, and while I played soccer as a youth (who didn’t?), I sucked at it. I also sucked at basketball and hating running. Coordination just wasn’t my thing. Deep down, I wanted to be good at sports. I always admired athletic women like Gabby Reece and Mia Hamm who had muscle definition instead of petite, waif-like frames.
After college, when a friend was getting into running, I signed up for a 5k. I didn’t train—I figured who couldn’t run 3 miles? Well, apparently this girl couldn’t. We were dead last—the ambulance following the runners was right behind us. I quit the race less than a mile into it. We signed up for another 5k a few months later, which I finished even though I had to walk most of it.
I was even crap at cycling. After graduate school, I moved back in with my folks (before it was ‘cool’ to do so). My brother and I went for a bike ride on our 10-speeds and I quit that about 2 or 3 miles into it (in my defense, it was an August afternoon in Texas—not exactly biking weather for this native New Englander).
Three years ago, I began commuting to work on my hybrid bike, a trip of 5 miles each way, every day. While the first week was tough, it became much easier and I began to look forward to my rides. Two years ago, my hubby gave me a road bike for my birthday. The hubs is a super active dude so he was more than eager to acquiesce to my new, seemingly random interest. After a month with my new toy, I completed a 37-mile ride, and since I didn’t die or pass out, I signed up for a longer, 62-mile ride a few months later. That was followed by a 50-mile ride, at the end of which, my husband (then boyfriend) proposed at the finish line. And although I had planned to complete my first Century the following May at the Tour of the Unknown Coast in Northern California, pregnancy made me cut down on miles and completed another 37-mile ride instead.
“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” Arthur C. Clark
I cycle because I like to test the limits of what I think I can do and what I can actually do. I also cycle to set an example for my kiddo. He’s a baby now and has no idea where mommy disappears to on Sunday mornings in her silly outfit; however, every time I complete a fitness goal, he’ll learn about goal setting, hard work and not giving up when it gets tough. It’s not enough to set a goal; it’s also important to have a reason for setting that goal, a reason that will keep you motivated when it’s easier to quit.
What’s your reason for keeping fit?