My words in blue.
Peter.Tosh wrote:... It sounds like 'the zone' is a kind of mindfulness meditation. Yes, that's the word. I also think there's lots of similarities - analogies even - one can make about our spiritual path and endurance sports. Firstly they're both really difficult when we first start. Just trying to stay sober or start exercising from scratch isn't easy. And early on in either we can make great gains very fast, but later we hit the law of diminishing returns and it gets harder in a different kind of long-term way.
For me, any stagnation while in AA recovery, on a spiritual path, or an endurance sport, has appeared to be ........an illusion of sorts.
- In both AA recovery and spiritual path, my pride has subconsciously crept in and taken control. My will has taken over from God's will. I want to run the show my way - a dry drunk, and a tight fisted preacher.
- In an endurance sport, my body starts to wind down and feigning fatigue, or refuses to pass through a recorded limit.
- With fatigue, my ego-mind usually looks for distraction and wishes my body to give up what it is repeatedly doing (pedaling, pedaling). I usually test this by increasing the pace for a while, if I really am fatigued I will soon give up. But in most cases I am awake again and happy to move along at a pace that I started of with.
- With recorded limits, my ego-mind becomes afraid of the unknown, and fears success more than failure. I usually clench my teeth and give myself a nudge to break through the barrier - just to nudge the limit up a fraction. Why I fear success is because I am then obliged to work harder to reach my new doable limit. By not reaching that limit is a form of failure anyway.
In all the above, a lack of faith was present.
Riding in the zone eliminates these illusions... Hmm, maybe the zone is an act of faith.
And we can get obsessed with targets and forget about why we originally started living a spiritual life/exercising. For example I've been through periods with running where I'm focussed on getting faster - and it sucks the enjoyment out of the sheer joy of running for the sake of running - just like in sobriety we can go through periods of not living the spiritual life, but focussing on making money, or sex, or [insert distraction here]. I rarely train with a gps watch for this reason.
I agree. I too at times cover my bike computer screen with a bit of tape. At the end of the training, I often find that I have performed better without it.
When racing, both pace and tactics take dominate the ride. The goal is to conserve as much energy as possible even amongst the fray. Many riders, up the front, will try to drop as many riders as possible be repeated surges of speed - to tire the weaker riders. A race is a ride that others test your limits.
I got dropped many times. Then an ex-national racer (AA member) told me: "To finish first, you must first finish". My goal from then on was to stay with the first five riders of the bunch. My next goal was to focus on the procedures of racing a bicycle. As soon as I start worrying about the results (if I finish/win or not) my mind is not on riding my bike and conserving energy. Instead I am wasting my chances of finishing the race.
The same with my AA recovery, when all seems to go soar, I go back to basics - reread the Big Book, go to identification meetings, do twelve step work, and do step 10 and 11 daily.
I do try to be mindful (get in the zone) when I'm running, but when I'm tired, everything's hurting, my self centredness does the 'poor me' thing. Or sometimes my thoughts just seem more attractive than being mindful, like I've got to distract myself - so my thoughts will have to do in the absence of anything better. A guy I sponsor calls this 'distracting ourselves' thing as 'avoiding God'.
I like that call very much, thanks Tosh (and your sponsee).
I really like the resting heart rate thing. I understand the principle behind it and I've got a sports heart rate monitor too. I'll give it a shot in the morning.
I check my RHR as soon as I start waking up, before getting out of bed. While I am still in a restful state. Otherwise the RHR quickly jumps up 10 bpm.