On the verge of an academic bonk, I was guzzling an Americano at 5pm while he was sticking to tea at our weekly meeting, when he said,
“Keep to what you can manage, you know? Otherwise, you just end up looking like an idiot.”
We weren’t talking about me, or even him, really, but the gears in my brain finally started turning. Shit, I thought, maybe I’ve been doing this completely wrong. Maybe spending huge chunks of time wishing my stem was a pillow was actually not normal. Maybe being exhausted was something that should be happening after I get off the bike, not before. Huh.
I understand this is old news, but I’m going to point to childhood trauma on this one. My Asian parents beat into me the philosophy that if you suck at something – other than math, that didn’t get through to me – you just have to try harder. Put in twice the effort as normal people. Never mind that I probably have a VO2max of 2; push the pedals hard enough and maybe I’ll be able to go faster than 20mph one day. Maybe even sprint for more than 30 seconds. And if that effort wasn’t enough, try three times as hard.
Yeah, I really shouldn’t have applied a philosophy that my parents only intended to apply to academia to bicycles, but I never said they taught me common sense [the fact that I don’t have one is a total genetic fluke, not due to a failing of theirs, though]. So instead of taking off days, alternating between cycling and running/strength training, I was trying to do it all. At once. And while I am somewhat multi-talented – as in I can wash the dishes and talk on the phone at the same time – I am not quite that adept.
That didn’t keep me from trying, of course, but it only resulted in me bonking in pretty much every area of life. I was tired all the time. I wasn’t eating enough and sometimes I hated more than just the first five minutes on the rollers. I barely had time to write, much less design. I was starting to get apathetic about class. Things were either not getting done or else going into the shitter. Awesome.
Small wonder, then, that when my trusted confidante snorted and made that statement, the lightbulb in my head sputtered and blinked and I thought, “I am such an idiot.” In my eagerness to be somewhat competent on a bicycle come spring, I was essentially demolishing myself. Worse, immersed in my newbie status, I forgot to look to the pros for guidance. Because even Victoria Pendleton has a rest day. In fact, her training regimen consists of lifting, riding on the track, avoiding hilly routes on outdoor rides, never running, and minimizing even standing on her off days. And while I’ll never be a world champ, that sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.
So yesterday, I resisted. Even as my bike seemed to stare back at me in hopeful anticipation of being ridden, I kept my butt planted on my chair. And while the complete lack of physical activity involving massive amounts of sweat was foreign enough to induce a slight level of paranoia, when my sister asked how “Perez,” my “flaming, gay, pink bike,” was, it didn’t seem like so much of a lie when I said, “oh, good,” in response.
I may not have ridden “Perez” yesterday but I’m pretty sure we’re both the better for it. And of course, there’s always today.