Training is like painting; too little and it’s incomplete. Too much, and it’s ruined.

If at first you don’t succeed… don’t expect to succeed next time.

Not exactly up-lifting stuff, but hey, I ain’t exactly an inspirational kinda guy. :p

This season I’ve lived by a training mantra; a phrase that when things were getting rough, or I’m wasn’t performing at my peak, I’d repeat to myself. It’s just two words – that seems to be a good mantra-word-limit. Ready for it? Suck less.

And I gotta say, it worked pretty well. My average ride is 10 miles longer with an average speed 1 mph faster than last year. So I’m living my mantra. I’m “sucking less”, and when I feel like it’s idiotically hot out, or insanely windy, and I catch myself complaining about it, I stop and think “Suck less.”

But there’s a few others that I’ve had to adopt. Recently, I rode the premier event I’d been training for – the Tulsa Tough Gran Fondo. Or at least, most of the first day, anyway. See, turns out that on this particular ride, I was doing damage to my foot. Well, moreso than usual. I had busted some blood vessels, kinda like a deep bruise, and the harder and longer I rode, the more my foot began to swell and hurt.

Now usually when something hurts, I turn to one of my older mantras that saw me safely through my first half marathon: Check functionality. This means that when I start to feel pain I don’t ignore it, but I don’t succumb to it either. I see where the pain is, and I check to make sure I can still function. If all checks out, I tell myself to “Suck less,” and I get back to work.

So when I was pushing hard on this event that I spent the last 5 months and 3k miles training for, it was really hard to tell myself to “check functionality” because I’d spent so long telling myself to “suck less.” I’d gotten my mantra order mixed up, and started to ignore when things were going wrong.

Unfortunately, my body fought back – which is what happens when you ignore pain that causes damage. The pain increased as the miles added up, and the “suck less” mantra was harder and harder to hear.

Then, a new mantra popped into my head. It was odd for two reasons. First, it had three words. Who uses a three-word mantra? I felt a disturbance in the force. Second, it wasn’t a mantra that would keep me going. In fact, just the opposite. It was telling me to stop.

The new mantra? Don’t be stupid.

Yep, you read that right. Either I’d gone insane (always a possibility) or my body was telling my brain that it was acting like an idiot, and they were both gonna get hurt (which didn’t bode well for me, but since I wasn’t a part of this conversation, I digress).

Really hurting but want to finish? Don’t be stupid. There will be other rides, other chances. Why risk doing serious damage and then not be able to ride, just to finish one event?

And this is one of those mantras that’s useful in SO MANY situations:

  • Want to run that stop light? Don’t be stupid.
  • Want to eat a 16 oz steak before a ride? Don’t be stupid.
  • Thinking of training for R.A.A.M.? Don’t be @#$% stupid.

So now I have a new mantra progression

  1. If things don’t feel great: suck less.
  2. If things start to feel bad: check functionality.
  3. If things feel really bad: don’t be stupid.

Well, time to get on the bike and find a large downhill to break my 50 mph barrier. Hmmm, I think I have a mantra for this…