For two months I’ve been avoiding riding my bike up Mt. Soledad. I’ve driven up it, and it’s 3.5 miles of hills, at an average 4.3% grade. None of this sounded fun to me. I told myself I couldn’t do it, I’m not strong enough, and I wouldn’t make it, and then when I didn’t make it I would have to deal with the disappointment in myself. So, in order to avoid failure, I simply haven’t done it.
Today I decided I was going to do it because YESTERDAY I made a commitment to myself to do something every day that’s monumental, something that I’m terrified of, something new, or something generous. Because I made that commitment to myself, and even after a CrossFit WOD this morning, I ventured out. It’s literally just a few streets away from my house, so I didn’t have to venture far. Let me tell you something about climbing hills. I suck at it. I despise it. I’m always the slowest one. Doesn’t matter what time of day, the weather, doesn’t matter if the wind is pushing me in the right direction. On a flat path with little climbing I average 18-22 mph rides. Regardless if I’m riding 16 miles or 60. But anything more than a 3% grade and I’m going less than 10 mph. So I get to Mt. Soledad road and it was actually way easier than I thought but I was still in almost the easiest gear. I pulled over to the side twice to take a deep breath. I knew I was going slow. About 2/3 up (or so I thought…I really had no clue), I’m telling myself “the decision to get up this hill is all in your head. Your commitment to success is greater than your fear of failure. And whether or not you succeed is between you and you.” I mean what else am I supposed to think about while I’m nearly out of breath and not sure where the end is?
I got to the top, took in the view, and cruised down at 30+ mph for five minutes. When I got home, I checked my Strava. I have a love/hate relationship with Strava. When I have a great ride, I consider it the best iPhone app that exists for cyclists. On a bad day, I hate it. I went up that hill at an average of 6.9 mph (although, I didn’t pause it when I pulled over…so I’m gonna go ahead and bump that up to 7). Let’s just say I wasn’t breaking any records. I was so upset with myself for a second before I realized that three months ago I told myself I wouldn’t be so hard on myself. So I got myself together and realized I don’t have to be the best rider. Out of 69, I was 65th. Who cares? There are hundreds of thousands of people in San Diego, not 69.
Here’s what I’m learning that has been important for me recently. I think it’s healthy to compare yourself to others at a very minor level. If it motivates you or pushes you to work harder, great. But not if it brings you down even though you know you gave it your all. So what if someone is reaching a level of success faster than you? Even at CrossFit this morning one of my teammates said the same thing – all that matters is that you keep practicing and do your best. Don’t make excuses. But it starts with what you are putting in your own head. Don’t be your own worst enemy, and remember that your desire to be successful has to be bigger than your fears.
“I can promise you the challenges you’ll meet on the road to success are far less difficult to deal with than the struggles and disappointments that come from being average.” Jim Rohn