the impact it has on our performance and success. We ride with the same friends, do the same races every month in the same way; use the same fuelling strategies, the same equipment, and the same goals. We often don’t even think about the possibility for change.

Getting out of this zone however is well known by Winners, Champions, and Extraordinary cyclists in your midst….and yet, most of us don’t shift it… We won’t in so many areas of our cycling, in our health and fitness goals, our racing goals and even our week-by-week enjoyment goals.  We won’t get out of our comfort zones… And yet most of us want to be in top condition and achieve great success… The desire is there, but we simply don’t ever “go there”…

Why not?  The answer is simple… Being exceptional is uncomfortable… it requires consistently getting out of one’s comfort zones…and this is hurts…. a lot. Often, it is physically uncomfortable - even painful and it is almost always mentally and emotionally challenging, requiring immense self-discipline, focus and sacrifice. Even the realisation that we are in a comfort zone may come with risk – to be aware of how we are unwittingly limiting ourselves means that we become aware of the possibility of change – Eish, who likes change!

On the other hand, have you ever considered that the lack of satisfaction, the boredom, the frustration, the lack of success that emanates from staying as you are, may in fact be more uncomfortable and potentially completely derailing your cycling career than the transient discomfort of stretching and revolutionising your performance.

When stretching, I’m not referring to the discomfort of pain from injury, or the stress from being out of alignment with your desires; or crossing rational physical boundaries - that is bad pain. Pushing yourself through that is sheer stupidity and may be destructive in the longer term. But success with your body and in every other area of your life is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and that means embracing pain and doing things differently. If you want an exceptional body, peak fitness, and performance success, then you have to break through those comfort zones. And if your cycling is not satisfying you in quite the same way and you are not moving closer to your desired outcome, you are not pushing the comfort zone enough.

The first sign of insanity is doing what you have always done and expecting a different result….…

When the required effort and discipline becomes uncomfortable and painful, most people retract, pulling back into the safety of what they have always done. But winners do the opposite: They intuitively embrace the pain, knowing that they have to push through it, to reach new levels - or they will stagnate. To move forward, one needs leave behind past achievements and move beyond one’s perceived boundaries and limits. That means stepping out of the familiar, and into the unfamiliar; out of the comfortable and into the uncomfortable.

I was on a ride on Saturday with a woman who desperately wanted to improve her cycling performance. She had all the right ingredients – a strong body, smooth and efficient pedalling style, great goals (even an Iron Man tucked away in there), superb bike – but what was missing was the idea that she had to change her comfort zone in order to shift the status quo. She was riding with the same people, at the same pace, the same routes – even on the same 4 days of the week. And she was expecting change!? I challenged her to do a ride the next day (“Two days in a row – are you sure?”), to move up to a faster group from next week (“but what if I get dropped?”) and to investigate some coaching (“What can a coach tell me that I don’t already know?”). Most importantly, I told her to try an attitude change. (I did say this in an encouraging and coach-like way.☺).

What was underlying her, and most others’ need for homeostasis is FEAR! That is where the attitude change begins. Reframe and reassign Fear out of the to-be-avoided-at-all-costs box and put it in the opportunity-for-change-and-creative-challenge box. Embrace Fear. Fear is your friend – it is what creates the possibility for change, a spur to action and the potential for some lateral thinking and successful strategies!

When you embrace the pain and discomfort of challenge in the way that champions instinctively do, you will notice that soon the discomfort subsides and then you get to enjoy the benefits of your achievement… and the pain that you felt becomes irrelevant. Even knowing this will lessen the “stress” of the uncomfortable action.

But don’t get too comfortable there, because this higher level of achievement soon becomes your new comfort zone, and it’s time to get uncomfortable again…The truth is, you are either pushing forward or quietly deteriorating…There is no such thing as homeostasis when it comes to sport, If we are not moving ahead, we must be moving in the opposite direction. The end result is boredom, depression and possibly eventually quitting altogether.

This reminds me of the story of HOW TO BOIL A BULLFROG.

Years ago some scientists did a simple experiment on a bullfrog. They put a bullfrog into a container of boiling water, and the bullfrog instantly popped out of the boiling water. Next they put the bullfrog into a container of cold water. The bullfrog liked it and stayed in the container. The scientists then turned on the heat at the bottom of the container. As the water got warmer, the bullfrog relaxed and took a nap. The bullfrog was so comfortable that it stayed in the container and was “cooked”.

I have a paperweight Bullfrog on my desk. I look at it every day and check that I am not unwittingly napping as my life moves on – and allowing my dreams and goals to sit too comfortably in that “uncomfortable-comfort zone”

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colleen@brainwise.co.za
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