Mindfulness is making sure that you are living in the moment and that your mind is fully attending to what’s happening and what you are doing RIGHT NOW!
Modern life has so many distractions that it’s easy to lose touch with yourself and become engrossed in obsessive thoughts about things that just happened or to worry about the future.
Mindfulness lets you meet your Cycling, weight loss and life goals
“Mindfulness is the ability to direct the mind to where you want it to go and to be present with what is happening now,” It is a way to ensure you perform your current activity to the very best of your ability and is critical in achieving your goals.
A great example of people who need some “mindfulness” (in my opinion) are people who would rather record a music concert than simply live the experience, or as we used to say “tune in and chill out (man!)”.
Mindfulness time is “me time”; it doesn’t belong to your boss, your family or your Instagram followers.
Your environment plays a critical role in achieving mindfulness which is why cyclists rave about the Istan road in Marbella. It’s a beautiful place, and a serious challenge for any rider
Mindfulness is what we used to call getting “In the Groove”
Mindfulness has always been an important concept but it’s only recently got a trendy new name. Mindfulness is what we used to call getting “In the Groove” or getting in the “Flow”
Integrating mindfulness into your workout will improve the quality and safety of your exercise as you develop an increased awareness of your body, observations, feelings, and thoughts.
Today I’m going to ride to the Refugio De Juanar. That’s quite a tough ride for me and when I do it that’s the ONLY thing I will focus on. Not that I need to paint the hallway when I get back or that tomorrow is Monday (mind you I love Mondays because that’s when I ride my bike, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday etc etc…).
I’m going to be riding in the moment—not actively thinking about what’s ahead or being distracted by other thoughts.
Mindfullness = Ability vs Difficulty
We reach a state of mindfulness or flow when our ability matches the difficulty of our workout. If we have more ability than the task requires we get bored. When the difficulty of the task exceeds our ability then we get anxious. (This isn’t a bad thing but it is not a mindful thing!).
When our ability is in sync with the difficulty we are in the Flow.
The Importance of Lycra on Mindfulness
To reach a state of mindfulness it helps to wear lycra. (OK, I admit it’s not an easy look, especially the first few times and especially if, as I was, you are 40 Kg overweight when you start).
Putting on your riding “Uniform” switches you from the real world to your riding world. It’s why Superman wears a cape. He doesn’t actually need it to fly!
Applying Mindfulness Ideas to Cycling
Before getting on your bike engage your cycling persona, this is triggered by changing into your cycling kit as mentioned above. Mentally scan your body from head to toe. What sensations do you feel? Are they pleasant, unpleasant or neutral?
Stay focused; don’t let your mind wander. As you complete your body scan decide what actions, if any, you need to take. Do you need to stretch, eat or drink before you start?
As you get on your bike, notice your position. Be aware of your contact points on the bike. Listen to your body. Do you need to make any changes to your bike fit?
Be Mindful of your Breathing
As you prepare to ride, take a few deep breaths. Feel the way the breath fills your nostrils, expands your lungs and makes your stomach rise and fall. Think about what you want to achieve on this ride.
As you ride, be totally aware of your surroundings. What do you see? What do you feel, hear and smell? Don’t let your mind wander to past events or future concerns, if it does then gently bring it back to the present moment.
Avoid using electronics while you’re riding so that you give cycling your full attention. Riding and training by feel can be very effective. (I use an app on my phone which gives me regular audio updates) I keep it in my back pocket and don’t have anything mounted in sight).
I often listen to music when I ride but only music I know very well so I don’t need to think about it and definitely only in one ear.
Follow your breath, Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Try to maintain a natural rhythm, not controlling your breathing, but simply noticing the sensation of breath moving into (through your mouth and nostrils, filling your lungs) and out of your body. Notice how your breath changes as you increase your speed or climb a steep hill.
Mindful Cyclists focus on their Pedaling
Notice how your legs rise and fall when you are pedaling. Visualize the pedaling circle. Is there a connection between your breathing and the regular consistent cadence of your pedaling?
I really like to focus on my pedalling action. How’s my technique? How’s my balance? Am I pulling up when I’m not pushing down, and is my left leg being a bit lazy (as usual)? Do I dip my heel at the beginning of every down stroke, should I stand up or sit down?
I also like to focus on being as aerodynamic as I can be on descents, visualising being inside an egg for example.
As you complete your ride, make another quick scan of your body. What do you notice? Did it go well, how where your legs, what do you need for your recovery, what would you change for your next ride?
You don’t always need to be mindful
Mindfulness is great, but sometimes it’s useful to use bike time to do the exact opposite and let your mind travel. The routine, repetitive nature of endurance cycling can be great thinking time. Use it to solve problems, have new ideas and dream about future plans!
When you want to maximize the benefits of training it’s mindfulness every time
Mindfulness is a simple concept and you probably already incorporate many elements of it in your everyday life. I would really recommend that you incorporate it as part of your cycling routine when you want to maximize the effectiveness of your training and meet your life goals.
If you would like to learn how to cycle in a mindful way why not let me show you how