Things to be grateful for when workouts don’t work out

It’s finally spring in New England, and the weather is great for cycling. I’m training for the PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally (you can sponsor me here), a 6-day, 600km ride in late July. It’s been a while since I’ve trained for a big event, but I’m glad for the challenge and the motivation to get outside on the bike. Even though I love cycling, sometimes I let other things get in the way. Not this year, though—at least not if I want to ride 600km, trying to keep Samantha and Susan and Natalie and others in sight..

So yesterday I went out for one of my standard rides- a short (1.5 hour) ride, including 2 x 10 threshold intervals. My Thursday and Friday rides were really good—I felt strong and happy, and the bike and I worked as one, humming down the road.

Not so on Saturday. As soon as I started turning the cranks, I could tell I was low-energy. My breathing was a bit labored, and I just didn’t settle into a calmer mindset. At first, I tried to focus and let my body just get used to the feeling of cycling. However, I soon abandoned that strategy in favor of a constant inner dialogue about whether and when I was going to turn around and go back home.  So now I had two problems: 1) feeling blah and unmotivated on the bike; 2) fighting with myself about completing my workout. I decided to just let my ride be what it was going to be—kind of limping along, and taking each turn when it came with no global decisions about whether or how I would complete the ride. And it worked—I finished it. On the way home, I composed a mental list of things I was grateful for on this ride. Here they are, in no particular order:

I was wearing goofy/cool cycling gloves—a Skeletor-inspired design in denim.

I dressed exactly right for the temperature; I wasn’t too hot or too cold.

My performance wasn’t actually much worse than it usually is for this route; I just felt slower and suckier.

No cars actively tried to hit me, which was nice of them.

My bib tights—they’re the best.

I didn’t see anyone I knew on my route—anonymity felt somewhat comforting.

At every corner where I could have turned to go back home, I just kept going.

Nobody on a hybrid or Walmart mountain bike or tricycle blew past me.

I spotted numerous pretty flowers, few of which I could identify, but pretty nonetheless.

The satisfaction I got from riding yesterday has me stoked about my next ride (today), which I hope will be better. Even if it isn’t, I’m doing it anyway.

In summary, I’m really glad I rode, and I’m really glad I ride.

Today (if I can get out before it rains), I’m riding.  Even if I still don’t want to.  Even if I feel turtle-like. Because it feels good to ride even when it feels bad to ride.

And here’s a picture of my goofy-cool Skeletor denim gloves (they were $6 on sale).

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About catherine w

I'm an analytic philosopher, retooled as a public health ethicist. I'm interested in heath behavior change, particularly around eating and activity, and how things other than knowledge affect our health decisions.I'm also a cyclist (road, off-road, commuter), squash player, x skier, occasional yoga-doer, hiker, swimmer and leisurely walker.

One thought on “Things to be grateful for when workouts don’t work out

  1. Sam B says:

    Love this. I’m the same way with bike rides. Try to appreciate all the different flavours of riding.

    Liked by 1 person

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