Every rider experiences difficulties and challenges as they work through their training. Injuries, sickness and the fact that creating change just takes time are all things we bump up against in our quest for awesomeness.
In the Sans Chaine world we talk about our training principles being intensity discipline, consistency, and repeatability. We should probably add to that the concept of perseverance - persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
The importance of perseverance was recently highlighted for me personally. On a whim I decided to do a big day on the mountain bike, something I had never done before. I managed to do 5hr15min without a problem. I say without a problem because until last year my longest mountain bike day had been around two hours.
When I finished racing full-time my body was a wreck. Not least of all my shoulders. Over the years of riding I had lost a lot of the mobility in my shoulders. I couldn’t even lie in bed with my hands behind my head, it always felt like my shoulders were going to pop out of the socket. On the mountain bike trails my shoulders were unstable and I was having issues with them subluxating. I remember one day having to stop on the trail to let some other riders by. I leaned on the wall of dirt next to the trail and pop! My shoulder went out. Crazy. I would tape my shoulders with SpiderTech for every ride and hope for the best. I definitely couldn’t crash or have to put my hand out. That would mean disaster.
In 2013 I had an operation to tighten up my right shoulder, the bad side. But I still felt very fragile. I realised that fixing my shoulders was integral to my health and being able to do the riding I wanted. After doing a lot of research I realised that my problem was one of mobility in my shoulder blade and so started to work on getting my shoulder working properly.
I was diligent in my work. A few minutes every day. Over time I started to feel the change. Still though I always felt the instability in my shoulders increase on my mountain bike rides and so never went over two hours. Until this year. It took eight years of work to reach the point where I could suddenly do a big ride on the trails without my shoulders being a problem!
All of us have challenges we have to overcome: back pain, broken bones, confidence, fear, or just a general lack of fitness. Fixing any of these challenges properly takes time and requires perseverance. The very act of training is an exercise in perseverance. To be your best you need to improve your aerobic system - the hardest sort of improvements to make which happen over years.
You have an idea of what you want to do and the sort of rider you want to be. Don’t give up! Perseverance will get you there. It just takes time.