As a cycling coach, I often remind my athletes about the importance of having a mediation practice, working on their strength and conditioning, practicing yoga and keeping a journal on TrainingPeaks. I frequently check in with them and when one of those moving pieces starts to fall off of the radar, they start noticing imbalances on and off the bike.
And yet, when you focus on those self-care fundamentals, balance restores and all is right in the universe.
It’s easy to not do those things. I’ll get to it next week, you bargain. A week becomes a month, and next thing you know it’s been six months since you actively foam rolled. Or in my case, longer.
It’s easy to not do those things. They take time and energy! Once you fall out of your routine, it’s hard to get back to it. The trick, and the part that you really have to pay attention to, is when the universe provides gentle reminders something is out of whack. Left unaddressed, they intensify and may result in an injury or burnout out or some other type of time out that you can no longer ignore.
It happened to me.
I fell out of mediation practice about a month into the pandemic. Instead of using my phone to listen to a guided meditation, I started scrolling news feeds. It became an addiction and I couldn’t stop reading about one horror of the pandemic after another. At first I tried to kid myself and turn the app on while I scrolled. Eventually I wondered what’s the point and turned it off.
I used to roll my feet everyday, without fail. And even though my feet started to hurt more and more, I didn’t keep up with this practice. When my feet hurt, it ripples up my posterior chain to my lower back… next thing I knew I couldn’t get out of bed due to a low back flare up.
I spent time in the chiropractors office, hoping that he’d have some miracle reset that would make it all better. And the work he did made an impact, however it wasn’t addressing the fundamental imbalance I had in my body and mind. One that turned upside down with the world as we know it.
I stopped bringing my phone to bed and my sleep quality increased tenfold. I started tackling my library reading list instead. I even set a timer for various social media feeds to stop the time leech and my happiness increased.
But that wasn’t enough. My body was still out of whack. I couldn’t ride the bike for longer than an hour without severely impacting my back and I’d roll home, deflated and not able to stand up straight for hours after.
So I backed off the heavy training, really limiting my time on the bike and only riding if I felt good. I started a consistent restorative yoga practice to get my parasympathetic nervous system to turn on. And slowly, things started to get better.
What really made a difference though was talking to my coach about these things. And telling him what actions I need to take, daily, in order for the healing to continue: foam rolling, myofascia release, hot baths/showers and gentle stretches to lengthen my hamstrings, strengthen my glutes and do activation prior to getting on the bike, and yes, meditate. Not the in bed type of meditation I was doing before, but the deliberate practice in the middle of the day.
When you share with your coach your goals and desires, they hold you accountable and support you. And that is worth every penny.