Almost on a daily basis I’ll cross paths with an acquaintance that knows what I do for a living. And without any prompting on my end I begin hearing about their plans to take care of their health & fitness.
I mean I could be coming out of the movies and see someone and ask how they’re doing? And maybe it’s a natural response for them to try to relate to my domain. And I hear about how things will change once something else happens.
What is the something else?
It might be a change in seasons. It might be when the kids go back to school. It could be that there is a move or transition going on at work. Or could it be that they have something else going on their life that is taking up more of their time and attention.
And so they are waiting for a return to normal. And sometimes they are waiting for perfect. What I mean by perfect is that they are waiting for all the conditions to come together and the stars to align better they take action.
Unfortunately this never happens. And days become weeks which become months and a couple of extra pounds have become an extra 8-10 pounds.
It’s almost like waiting for the perfect time to have a baby. For Alexandra and I it took a while. And then one day I came to find out we would be parents. Best day ever! And it couldn’t have been planned.
Here’s another example related to exercise.
Last weekend I didn’t have any plans for a ride. Which is unusual. So I fired out a few quick texts on Friday night and made plans to ride to Crystal with my friend Mike.
I didn’t have the best sleep on Friday. And Saturday morning was our typical smoky air quality. The plan was to meet at the gym and to pump up our tires then head out. As I attached the pump hose to the stem of my wheel I managed to bend the stem. And so all the air leaked out of my tire.
I managed to get some air in the wheel but definitely not full pressure. And when you’re riding you can definitely notice when you’re riding on low air pressure tires. It doesn’t even have to be a flat tire to be noticeable. Just low pressure.
So as we head out on our ride I’m noticing the difference in speeds at different sections of the ride. Where I would normally be at 31 km/hr I’m at 26 or 27. On descents that would hit 60+ I’m in the mid 50s.
This is all going through my mind and causing me to wonder if this ride is a good idea? I’ve done the climb in just over an hour previously but today doesn’t seem to be a good day with the low air pressure.
We get started on the climb which is about 16.5 km. The first few kilometers are faster than they’ve ever been. And I keep doing the math in my head to make sure I’m analyzing the effort clearly. Next I know there’s a check-point I’ve done in just over 33 minutes. And I roll past in just over 30 minutes.
So in spite of low tire pressure I’m having a great day. I end up going past the Telemark cross-country ski area in 45 minutes which is about 5 minutes ahead of pace.
Now I’m excited because a) I’m so close to being done b) I’m have a record day c) I’m not giving up time but am actually picking up time the further I go.
I now start channeling a mantra involving our youngest Evangeline (2 years). Whenever I get home from work, ‘Vangie’, helps me take off my helmet and shoes. She then helps me put my bike away. Once the bike is put away in the garage she looks back at me and says ‘hand’. She wants to hold my hand and lead me into the house.
So over the last few kilometers of this ride when I was climbing the remaining hills I would envision Vangie reaching out her hand to me, saying ‘hand’ and pulling me up over the top.
As I reached the top I checked my time to see 55 minutes and change. I was over 5 minutes faster than my best ever.
I beat my best without prepping for days ahead. After a poor night’s sleep. Without proper fuel for the ride. And riding on a flat tire.
What is a perfect day anyways?
If we wait for what we think is perfect we will miss so many opportunities to set personal bests and to improve.
And when conditions aren’t ideal and yet we succeed we feel as though as nothing can stop us. What can’t we accomplish?
For me, I now feel as though I could sub 50 minutes for this climb. And I know it won’t take a perfect day for this to happen.
For your own health & fitness, don’t wait for perfect conditions. And if you feel conditions couldn’t be worse, see this as an opportunity. I remember my friend Steve Weatherford (NY Giants) saying how rock bottom can be a blessing. When you’re at the bottom you’ve got the most ground to push back against and get the best jump out of your low point.