Gaining inspiration from watching the Tokyo Olympics and all of the highly motivated and successful athletes, I have been diving deep into myself and looking at my “WHY”. Everyone is different, but this one question may help you discover the root of your cycling mind and what makes you continue to get back on the bike day after day.
Maybe it’s the health benefits.
- Strengthening immune system
- Strengthening muscles
- Increases mobility and skeletal density
- Reduces the likelihood of arthritis and other joint problems
- Benefits balance in daily life and equilibrium
- Decreases mental stress
- Decreased risk of heart attack and obesity
- Decrease in body fat
- Prevention and reduction of blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of colon, breast, prostate, lung, endometrial and pancreatic cancer
There are so many health benefits of cycling and I can definitely tell the difference between weeks where I don’t get much riding in due to other work-life commitments. Prioritizing this daily is something that you can do to make sure you are putting your health first. Any time and money you put into building up your fitness and improving your health is time and money you don’t have to forgo later in life. But the health benefits are only one small part of my “WHY”.
Maybe it’s the cycling community?
Being a cycling coach is such a wonderful career and I get to spend hours with really motivated and interesting people. It gives me a perspective of cycling that not only gets me out of bed everyday, but makes me keen to dive into my work and focus on making my athletes as good as they can be. The cycling community really is something else. Watching children grow into passionate cyclists and seeing them flourish is such a special part of my life. Travelling to races and meeting with the cycling community gives a sense of friendship, community, familiarity and drives me not only to be a better coach but a better cyclist. Being able to ride the trails with your friends and get a coffee afterwards is a great stress relief and an integral part of being a human being and satisfying our social connection with others. It’s great seeing other athletes and cyclists improve and this gives me the drive to do the same. It really feel’s like a big family and this is a huge part of my “WHY”.
But what about the mental health benefits?
It is well known that doing any type of exercise even for a short period of time per day, has a massive impact in mood and mental health. Cycling boosts mental and physical energy and relieves tension and stress. You can go out riding feeling stressed and overwhelmed and over the course of the next 30 minutes the tension slowly dissipates and you return feeling more level headed and relaxed. This is due to hormones. These “feel good” hormones are called endorphins. They are released when we are exercising and proven to decrease the likelihood of developing depression. This is definitely part of my “WHY”.
Better sleep quality.
The more you cycle, the better your sleep quality. There is a known link between cardiorespiratory fitness and sleep quality and patterns. Cycling helps to synchronize your circadian rhythm and reduce the level of cortisol in the body (stress hormone). Cortisol prevents the body from relaxing inhibiting a deep, regenerative sleep. In my personal experience I know that the days where I can get a good workout in, I feel more energized, have more focus and get a deeper more undisturbed sleep. This is definitely part of my “WHY”!
Self Improvement and growth.
Simply stated, self-growth is a desire to become a better version of yourself every day. Some people have this unconscious drive to approach the day head on and use self-reflection and assessment in their day to day to become better. My athletes go through a process of self-improvement and reflection through the PCS online training program. They learn the skills to make personal reflections in their training and we incorporate these into making achievable short and long term goals. I do this in my daily life but more specifically in my role as a coach rather than my own cycling growth. Do you strive to become a better athlete in yourself ?
Being the BEST!
Some people will cycle for themselves, others will cycle to win and be the best they can in their category. I have met many cyclist’s that are completely driven by winning and achieving the top spot. This kind of competitive nature is very healthy and can be that extra X-factor that carries someone through the highs and the lows. Being competitive helps an athlete dig deeper when the pain gets more intense. It’s always great to achieve a medal or trophy after an event that you knew you gave your all. Watching the Olympics we can see all the athletes striving for that gold medal and pursuing their dream of being the best. But sometimes, even missing out on that top spot gives someone the drive to keep training and improving themselves. Olympic and world records are a great motivation for these types of athletes.
Why it’s important to know your “WHY” during COVID Lockdowns!
It is so important to take the time to understand and to know your “WHY”! When motivation wanes for one reason or another it is good to take a break and to reflect on what made you start riding in the first place. Once you work out your “WHY” then it is a lot easier to get back out there and start to enjoy your riding again! It would be so easy to rack it during all of these COVID lockdowns and throw up our hands in despair but coming back to your “WHY” for motivation will help you to realise that it is more than just medals and results!
So, what’s your why?
Maybe it’s only one of these, maybe it’s a combination of all of them. The biggest take home from this blog is to think about it and be aware of your reasons and harness the power of them. Write them down, post them all over your home, say them out loud on the way to work! Use them in your day to day life to motivate you when things get tough. And when things are going good, acknowledge that you are doing a great job achieving your “WHY”.
High Performance Mountain Bike Coach
My speciality is helping serious and recreational mountain bikers break through plateaus to attain higher levels of performance so that they can get fitter, faster, stronger and win more races!