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How to keep motivated this winter for summer mountain biking!

How to keep motivated this winter! (this is part two of a series on staying motivated and goal setting, if you missed part one you can find it here http://betterride.net/?p=873 )

Goal Setting

“Any time some one asks me, “teach me something new”, I know they are not into mastery. If you want to master anything you have to do it over and over again”. Anthony Robbins

  1. With goals we create the future in advance.

  2. ’53 Class of Yale, 3% had specific, written goals. 20 years later in 1973 when interviewed those 3% were happier, enjoyed their life more (which I know are subjective measuring) what isn’t subjective though is that those 3% were wealthier than the other 97% of their class combined!

  3. A goal not written down is just a dream!

Whether you are a weekend mountain bike rider who just rides to get out in nature for some fresh air or a determined mountain bike racer it is tough to stay motivated to stay in shape during the off-season.

Like most mountain bikers I am not always super motivated to workout or train on cold winter days. The riding and/or mountain bike racing season seems so far away it is tough to stay motivated in the winter. The winter is a great time to assess your riding season and your goals and set new goals. Follow my season wrap up and goal setting worksheet, then do something I learned from Dan Milliman in his book Body Mind Mastery, he says, “Set your goals then put them aside and focus on being the best you can be on any given day”.   He goes on to explain that by focusing on goals that are often 6 month to 5 years away it takes us out of the moment and we don’t enjoy our day to day life.  He tells us that victory is fleeting and if we don’t enjoy the journey on the way to achieving our goals what is the point.

An example of this in my own life is doing intervals (85-100% efforts for intervals 30 seconds to 6 minutes). I would often say to myself, “Gosh, I hate intervals, feeling like you are going to puke for 5 minutes, resting and repeating is miserable, but if I want to win (the World Masters/Angel Fire or what ever my goal was that season) I have to do them”. As you can imagine I didn’t do them as much as I should have and every time I did do them I did not enjoy them. When I won a bronze medal at the UCI Mountain Bike World Masters Championships in 1999 it was the happiest moment of my life, until the next morning. I woke up, was proud of my medal, then thought about the last 9 months and my current situation. I was in Montreal in a beat up ’84 VW van with 197,000 miles on it, an exhaust leak, and three smelly mountain bikers, not sure if it would get us home, I was broke (actually a couple grand in debt to my credit cards), had no job, no place to live, all my “stuff” was in storage and had no girlfriend to come home to (and I had not had a girl friend or a date for a long time). For the 9 months leading up to the World Masters I was really focused on my goal. In those months I did my intervals, I hit the gym hard, I ate really well, went to bed early and was probably not the most fun person to be around. Going to bed early meant no dating, I was sacrificing my social life. Intervals are tiring and I looked at them as being painful, not fun, I was punishing myself. To train so hard and race the national schedule I quit my job in April (not enough time to train, recover, travel to races and work). As I assessed these months and my current situation the thrill of victory quickly faded.

Not only is the thrill of victory short lived, what happens when you come up short or don’t even get the chance to go for your goal (you get injured, lose funding, change careers or set a different goal, etc.)? Now you did all that sacrificing for nothing! All those intervals and I am not even racing, what a waste. Well, if you did the best you could each day and enjoyed the journey their was no sacrifice.

A year later I went back to the World Masters set on winning and finished second in the qualifying round! Unfortunately in the final race run my chain came out of my chain retention device in the first turn and my race was over (I stopped, put the chain back on pedaled furious into the next section and the chain came off again, I coasted in to 8th or 9th place). This was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. I had the Silver Medal in the bag and with a solid run I could have easily won the Gold. When I woke up the next day I was still a little disappointed but I took stock of my life and realized it was no big deal, just a bike race. I was in the best shape of my life (which at 34 felt great!), I had a great girlfriend, a good job and a cool apartment to return to. What a difference from the year before!

Now I set my goals then focus on being the best I can be at each given task on the way there. When that task is intervals I am not doing them to win a race, I am doing them because I enjoy the challenge of pushing my body that hard and the good, exhausted, but satisfied feeling I get afterward. Knowing that I am 44, in great shape and getting stronger with every workout is a great feeling.

Dan Millman goes on to explain that if we do our best everyday we will not only enjoy our lives more we will likely exceed our goals. So look out next year, I am training hard and enjoying my life more than ever! Who thought I could still beat half the pro field at 45?!

Think of training as something that will make you a better, happier, more successful person, not as a sacrifice. The real sacrifice is spending all that time and money traveling to fun riding spots like Fruita or Moab and wishing that you had more energy and could ride more. There is nothing worse than finishing poorly in a race and thinking, “If I had just…. practiced a little more… trained a little harder…. etc. Saying “what if” is a sad way to go through life (and I have done it too many times in my life). “He just beat me because he practices/gets to ride more than I do”. Yep, that probably is why he beat me. That and he wanted it more than me which is why he practiced more than me.

At 44 and even when I was younger I have never raced to win. I race to do my best and there is no bigger disappointment than letting yourself down. So whether you are training for a long mountain bike ride in Moab next spring or the biggest race or your life, train hard and have fun!

Third Place 1999 World Masters Championships

World Downhill Champ Gee Atherton vs. World Enduro Champ David Knight

Check out this video of Mountain Bike World Downhill Champ Gee Atherton on his downhill bike racing World Enduro Champ David Knight down a world cup downhill track!  Sick split screen action.

Lower Pressure is Good! Another Interesting Study On Bike Tire Pressure.

One of our students just emailed me this link to a study on the effects of tire pressure and energy output from the rider. While this is a study on road tires they have an interesting section on rough surfaces that can be applied to mountain bikes.  They use the word “suspension” to explain how the body must absorb shock if you have high tire pressure which robs you of a great deal of power (or causes you to use a great deal more power to maintain the same speed when using higher tire pressure).  As we explain in our camps lower pressure tires absorb shock better (the tire simply flexes instead of having to go up and over the bump (making your entire body weight go up and over the bump when seated and pedaling) giving you a smoother and more efficient ride.   My original post on this is here:

http://betterride.net/blog/2010/another-thing-you-can-buy-and-instantly-have-more-bike-control/

The new study (courtesy of Mark Shaw) is here:

http://janheine.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/science-and-bicycles-1-tires-and-pressure/

A Big Thank You To All Mountain Bikers, Your Passion Fuels My Passion!

Thanks to all the mountain bikers who make my life fun, challenging and rewarding. Some of you like me and email me about your huge improvements after my camp and others seem to hate me. The riders with the “what could you possibly teach me?” attitude and the guys on the $6,000 mountain bikes who tell me I am ripping people off charging $600 for my 3 day camps as they walk up a section of trail I helped a 67 year old man ride! Well, I love all of you because both sides keep me motivated to keep learning, improving and providing the best coaching I and my team of coaches can provide.  Here are two recent emails from each side:

“Please take me off of your list asap. You have some nerve charging what you do for this!” Some really angry dude who I have never met (his name with held to protect the innocent?).

Gene,
I raced in the Palo Duro Marathon (Pain on the Plain) last Saturday – 46 miles – and employed everything you taught me: vision, cornering, descending, ascending.  It was the best I’ve ever raced.  It was a technical, grueling course, and I finished 15th of 32 in my age group (I’ve been finishing dead last or beating only the DNF’s).  And I attribute it to my ability to clean impediments better, lose less time in corners, descend with more confidence, and ascend with more power (while looking where I wanted to go).  You bet I’m practicing.  Your camp was the best $600 I’ve spent in an already expensive passion…worth every cent.  Thanks again!  jj
Fortunately, I get a lot more like the second one (two yesterday!) but both motivate me in their own way.  I love coaching people and I love mountain biking but probably the thing I love the most is a challenge.  BetterRide has been one challenge after another, from my transmission blowing up on the way to my first out of state camp (3 days after quitting a good, high job to do this full time) to trying to keep a positive cash flow as my overhead went up 500% this year (do to adding both administrative staff and coaching staff to keep up with the demand for our mountain bike coaching). I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself is this worth it, knowing I could make the same money with less stress and far fewer hours at a “normal” job. Normal jobs however were never as rewarding. I never got emails like JJ’s from people I served at those jobs. Those jobs didn’t challenge me as much to keep learning, reading and improving (both at what I was doing and as a person).
Thank you for what continues to be an amazing journey. I feel very fortunate to live the life I live and to meet and work with so many fun, interesting and inspirational people.  Thank you!
Create a very happy Thanksgiving,
Gene