Head dropped to one side, legs still moving methodically – if slower than they were 130km ago – I was drawing close to the finish. My body was quietly protesting this continued torture. I had ridden up hill and down dale for over 5 hours on a dull, cold day, on some of the most punishing roads I’d attempted. Thankfully there were no more cobbles, just a long drag in to this infernal headwind, trying to slipstream the group in front but never quite catching it.
A crazy way to spend a day? Maybe……. you see this ride was
- Farther than I’d ever ridden before
- Done with friends
- Part of a huge event celebrating cycling
- Excellent training for my charity ride
- A long held goal completed
- The first time I’ve been complimented on my strength as a rider
- The first time I’ve felt comfortable amongst a peloton
- The first ride where I’ve been able to compete with one of my friends for pace
- There were honey waffles on the ride and a beer to finish!
Yet when I finished I was downhearted, disappointed to have slowed so much at the end, needing some help to keep with the group. but it was only as I reflected and talked to my friends that some of these small victories started to emerge. Only then that even the strongest of my friends confessed it had been a tough day for them, that they were aching too, that the cobbles had hurt them too. As I crossed the line I was really conscious of having slowed down my friends and been the weakest link but they didn’t see it that way.
You see as humans we are programmed to make a pattern out of negative events, mainly in order to prevent us from repeating the same mistakes. It’s got to the point that for most people they can turn one negative event in to a pattern and “catastrophise” from there about how bad their day will be just because they stubbed their toe as they got out of bed. And you know what, they will be right, they will skew the way they approach the day, selecting only the negative parts of the day until they’ve justified that decision to themselves. Obsessing over events which on a “good” day they wouldn’t even notice or would discount as unfortunate happenstance in the grand scheme of things. It’s always been interesting to me that people rarely do the opposite and make a pattern out of a good event – a small victory. Often they will need lots of good events before they can even countenance the idea that it’s a good day.
In my recent example I had a stack of reasons as to why it hadn’t been a good day, cold start, slower than my friends, etc etc. I certainly didn’t attempt to build a positive pattern from the simple fact that I like to ride with these guys. So as I look out of my window this morning I note the fact that the predicted rain has not arrived. To me, that’s a small victory and I’m going to use it to power my day.
What small victories are you not noticing? Take a look today and find a few positive things to get you started on building a good pattern………..