Tag: quit

The Science Of Giving Up

The snow finally melted, the sun is out, and the trails are dry. Today was the first mountain bike ride since last fall. I loaded up the bike and got an excited dog in the truck and drove to the trailhead. Literally as soon as I got to the parking lot, the skies opened up and it started raining. Crap. I sat in the car for a full minute thinking oh well, guess I’ll have to ride tomorrow. Then I looked at my dogs face and didn’t want to disappoint him. I figured I wasn’t going to melt, so off we went.

Ooooh boy was I rusty. The balance wasn’t there. And it turns out, ski muscles are not the same as bike muscles. I was going pretty slow. This seemed like more work than I remembered. As I rode along, I started thinking about what route I wanted to take. There is a shorter loop and a longer loop.

I was already tired and being wet from the rain didn’t help my motivation. I started justifying to myself that there was no need to take the long loop my first ride out. It has a couple of steep climbs that I knew would hurt. I should probably get some shorter rides in before tackling the bigger one. Besides, it was the dogs first day out as well. No need to push him.

I got to the trail junction where I had to commit one way or another. I sat there for quite a while trying to decide. I really didn’t want to do those climbs. I watched the dog, trying to see if he seemed tired. What to do, what to do?

I listened to a podcast the other day that had two Navy seals talking about hell week. That’s the culmination of the first evolution trainees go through as prospective seals. A week of no sleep, little food, and nonstop physical training. Carrying logs, paddling boats in the surf, running, and never-ending pushups and pull ups – all while wet and sandy. There’s a massive attrition rate, which is the point of it all. Finding out who’s going to quit when things get really hard.

Anyway, the Navy guys said the interesting thing is that nobody quits during the hard stuff. They quit while on a break or after eating some food. Turns out your brain imagining what’s going to happen next and how you’ll feel is more powerful than enduring an exhausting exercise session. If you give your brain time to think, it’ll do everything it can to convince you to not do something it perceives as potentially unpleasant. I found that fascinating.

Long story short, I took the long loop. The rain stopped and the sun came out. I did ok on the climbs and the hound did just fine. It ended up being a good first ride. I got back to the car and was super happy I didn’t let my brain win the argument. It’s like going to the gym. I hate the gym and will come up with every excuse possible to convince myself to go tomorrow instead. And every single time I do go, I feel better and am happy I went.

So, this weekend – go take the long loop.