I’m sitting here with my legs quivering and on fire. My damaged back is going to bark at me the rest of the day. Why? I went mountain biking early this morning. Now wait, you might say if you’ve been a long-time reader… this guy writes all the time about going for a ride. What’s the deal? The difference is that I rode with my new next-door neighbor. He’s much younger and in good shape. I thought I’d be fine since I do ride from time to time. I was wrong.
It turns out you are a horrible judge of your own level of effort. Since I have the freedom to ride during the week, more often than not I’m riding solo. The other folks I ride with are of equal strength and conditioning. So when I’m cranking along, I think I’m putting out max effort. I’m breathing hard and it feels like I’m pushing it. But if you don’t have any way to actually measure or compare your effort, you never really know.
To keep up on this ride, I was pretty much red-lined the entire way. There was no conversation… I was too busy trying to suck in air. Same thing on the downhill. I thought I was a reasonably fast rider, but I couldn’t keep up with him going down. Here’s the interesting part. While I was working 10x as hard as he was, I generally kept up. So, I have the ability. Why haven’t I been riding at that level all along?
I think that’s what separates truly elite athletes from the rest of us. They have the ability to push themselves to their true limit day in and day out. Most of the rest of us quit way before that. It’s hard, it hurts, and we don’t really know what our actual limit is. I’ve noticed the same thing in my attempts at lifting weights. During our recent vacation, the resort gym didn’t have the same weight kettlebell as I’ve been using. So, I grabbed that bigger kettlebell and managed to do the same workout. At home, I would have been convinced that it was too heavy and hard. Why?
Clearly, I’ve been sandbagging myself and didn’t really know it. The new goal is now to make sure every workout leaves me in a quivering puddle on the floor. I will push weights to actual failure. I will ride at redline as much as possible.
Because what could go wrong? It’s not like I’m an old dude with a bad shoulder and damaged back. It’s not like I’m setting myself up for overuse injuries or anything, right?
Sitting here with my quads on fire, maybe I’ll just get an E-bike instead. Motor assist sounds pretty good right now.