cycling · motivation

Tricking yourself….or you can always quit after the first 10 km

Some people routinely set their clocks ahead in an attempt to fool themselves about the time so they won’t be late. That doesn’t work for me. I just know to subtract the amount that the clock is fast. And also, being late isn’t a thing that I do. I am almost always either anxiously early or just on time. Late isn’t in my repetoire.

But that doesn’t mean I never set out to trick myself.

I’ve never slept in my cycling clothes but I have very carefully gotten my bike ready–air in tires, Garmin charged–and laid out my cycling clothes near the bed, and planned my breakfast the night before an early morning ride. That isn’t a trick but it is a nudge, a way of making the best choice, the choice I want to want to make, a little bit easier.

We all have those things we do to encourage our better selves. Sometimes it’s preparing meals in advance. Other times it’s scheduling in workout times. They’re all nudges.

Here’s another thing that I do that is somewhere between the lie and the nudge.

I tell myself to just start. I give myself permission not to do the whole thing. When I have a race I’ve committed to racing and I don’t feel up for it, I tell myself that either I can just do one lap (if it’s a multi-lap event) or I can just do the first 10 km and quit after that. I almost always start riding, get doing, feel better, and go through with the whole thing. But the permission to quit means I don’t have to make the hard choice before the event even begins.

It’s not that I never quit. I blogged about a Monday DNF here. But more often than not, I keep riding and finish.

The permission not to finish allows me to take on things that are harder than usual and not put a lot of up front energy into the decision to begin. Just start…decide whether I’ll finish later.

There’s a Precision Nutrition strategy I liked, with a similar flavour: Quit tomorrow.

I commit to riding the first lap or the first 10 km, knowing I can quit after that. And mostly, I don’t.

If I ever decide to ride up the Alpe du Zwift, I’ll do the same thing. I’ll start and give myself permission not to finish.

“Test your legs and your lungs as you discover the iconic ascent of Alpe Du Zwift. The latest Watopia expansion brings 3,399 ft (1,036 m) of climbing across 21 hairpin turns. The terrain changes dramatically as you zig-zag your way up the mountain ridge and enter unchartered territory.”

How about you? Any self-motivating tricks or nudges that routinely work well for you? Share them in the comments below.