Being aware of something. Simple right? The example is Easter weekend. The cyclist in question is at a family gathering on Saturday after riding in the morning. There is food....lots of food. The cyclist knows that over eating is bad, but cannot help themselves and ends up over-eating. Bad. This is mental awareness. Knowing what is going on. Easy right?
Mental toughness is being strong willed and unrelenting even in the toughest circumstances. Cyclist know this trait.....in the people that blow the tires off of them at races. The mentally tough are focused on their goals, desires, and results. In order to me mentally tough....you have to mentally aware. You cannot be a goal oriented cyclist expecting podium results and eat the way the mentally aware cyclist did on Easter Eve. It doesn't work. Sure, there are different levels of mental toughness.....and maybe the weakness for the cyclist in question is food. The problem is....that weakness leaves this particular cyclist vulnerable to other attacks and can create cracks in the toughness armor.
What does it mean?
It means you have to be aware before you can be tough. Lately I have been becoming more aware of how I adversely affect the good work I have done. I am aware, but stopping is still difficult because I lack the toughness at this juncture to change. I am working on it.....as many people are works in progress. I just find it amazing that I can get on my bike and ride in a freaking blizzard and then power down a shamrock shake on the way home. Sure....I "earned" it by riding in awful conditions......but how much easier would the next ride have been if I was 3,4 or 5 pounds lighter?
I am working on it....but is is a struggle.....a fight with myself and my habits. Sometimes I get knocked down. Sometimes I don't want to get back up. Thankfully I have people in my life that care enough to pull me off the canvas and throw me back into the ring. Knowing that they care keeps me going when I am getting the tar beat out of me.....and I am standing there ready to throw in the towel. This works both ways though too. Even with the stress and negative thoughts squarely on my shoulders I go for another round. Slowly defeating the "just quit riding" thoughts that I have made very public in the past. The easy route would be to just give up....throw the towel in.....but I haven't yet. I have looked over that ledge and have been ready to jump.....but I have been talked down. This worked a little backwards this week. One of my friends was standing on that ledge.....ready to just give up racing and find another way to spend his time. Life was throwing all kinds of punches at him. He told me he was on the couch and the thoughts of giving up racing were right there.....he was at the ledge. Then he thought about everything he has told me in the past. He thought about a training partner that is set up to make his presence known this year.....and he turned away from the edge......put his gloves back on.....and stepped back in the ring for another round. Mental toughness......do you have it in you?