#%@! &! Dig I-N-N-N! Push it! You can do it…almost there!

I’m training for my first ever mountain bike race. It happens in less than a month in Fernie B.C.  – www.furious3.com. Needless to say I’m cycling as much as I can these days to prepare for this adventure. I’m up for the challenge but I’m also wondering what I’ve got myself in to!

This past weekend Ewan and I did a mountain bike ride on Saturday and a road cycle on Sunday. The mountain bike ride allowed me to hone my technical skills and tackle some lung-busting climbs. The road cycle allowed me to put my head down and get the heart rate up … oh, and tackle some lung-busting climbs. Yup, both routes were very hilly and forced me to push harder than I wanted to or at times even thought I could.

But I pushed and persevered. I made it through both rides feeling strong, and it got me thinking.

I’m an endurance junkie. I can go for a good long while on flat terrain and feel strong and quite happy, but I noticed I wasn’t transferring that strength to hill climbs. On most rides I would hammer away on level ground and easily keep up with my cycling mates, but on every hill I’d get dropped. Oh sure, I’d start off strong and keep up for a bit, but every time I’d  near the crest of the hill – the steep bit – I’d slow down … or stall out. Heart breaking.

‘Heart break hill’ exists in every cycling or running community; that one nasty hill that every one talks about. Longer, steeper, surprising in its toughness, heart break hill pushes you to your limits and then, just when you think you’ve conquered the beast it throws you another challenge. For me it seemed every hill was heart break hill.

So this weekend I asked myself a tough question: “Is it lack of physical strength or lack of mental determination that’s holding you back Cederberg? Why don’t you push a little harder when the hill gets steep?”

Damn! Slow and steady does not always win the race. To avoid the pain of burning legs and lungs I’d been allowing my ‘long, slow distance’ endurance mind-set to rule in a hammer head environment. I figured as long as I was able to keep my heart rate and breathing in control I’d be able to get the job done. WRONG.

When the path got steeper and I felt my legs starting to burn, instead of dropping to a lower gear to preserve my strength I should have dug in deep and pushed harder to overcome that threshold. In this situation it wasn’t about reliable, familiar, safe endurance it was about all-out, balls-to-the-walls, get-er-done determination. Suffer time.

Whether you’re conquering the big hill, the big problem at home or the big project at work there will be hard sections to push through and sometimes you have to take yourself out of low gear and kick it in to over drive to get ‘er done. It may hurt a bit in the process but a couple of great things result when you do:

1) You gain a new perspective on your capabilities, and will no doubt remember that the next time you’re stuck. You’ll push harder and be reminded that you’re stronger than you think.

2) You define a new normal that raises the bar for success in whatever you’re after. And every time you push beyond your ‘limits’ your body and mind will adapt to that raised standard. Before long you won’t be able to remember having ever struggled on that hill.

Yes, my legs are pretty tired today. I pushed them beyond their comfort zone, and though it hurt while I was doing it I’m learning that a little pain now will make the mountain bike race alot less painful 25 days from now.

Strength versus determination. When it comes to conquering your goals you don’t need as much strength as you think. If you’re determined you can climb any hill …and gain strength – mind, body and spirit –  in the process.

Dig deep and push past ‘heart break’. You want it and it’s worth it!

Michelle Cederberg, CSP (Canada’s Newest Certified Speaking Professional)

MKin, BA Psyc, CEP

Helping people with full schedules and a long list of responsibilities maximize their personal energy.

Speaker, Consultant, Co-Active Coach, Author


Do  you have an ‘overcoming heart break‘ story you’d like to share with me? If you made it through a difficult time by changing your circumstances or your attitude (or both) I’d love to know about it.

Financial stress, a health crisis, relationship challenges, a personal loss, a dangerous or traumatic situation…

What was your struggle and how did it make you feel? Somewhere in the middle of your ‘hill climb’ you may have reached a turning point that changed things for you. What was it and what did you do? How did your attitude or actions change the outcome for you?  Email me here and let me know.

Your story may be used in my next book.

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