The Extra Gear

G’day, This will be a short, but informative blog.

In cycling, we have an extra gear (usually). When we’re struggling up a climb and still are trying to maintain a decent cadence, we go to what some cyclists refer to as a “Granny or bail out gear”. By utilising this gear, we reduce the extra metabolic stress incurred by not using a larger gear and grinding (or muscling) up the climb.

The mind can be trained to access the extra gear also. By implementing the following protocol, we can access that easier gear and limit the stress we put in our system just as on a bicycle.

So say you’re on a hard track workout, a tough swim set or even some bike hill repeats (Yummo). You could be even hitting the wall at work. You’re starting to struggle either physically or mentally (or if you’re lucky, both). I’m going to list a couple items that you can implement to access the granny gear and get you over the hump.

1) Regroup: When in panic, if improperly trained, the brain attempts to go in many different directions. When this happens, the breakdown process happens much sooner than you want. An example in training may be that you are running a track session and part of the session would say be: 6 X 800m in 3:15 with a 200m recovery. At the 3rd rep, you are starting to struggle and don’t make the time, same thing for the next one. You have a few options here, I’ll just go into a couple. Option 1 : Struggle in the bigger gear  Option 2 : Stop the workout all together.  Option 3 : (My favorite) Shift to the “Granny gear”  You can take some extra recovery time, facilitate some DEEP focused breath work while going through some visualization, ( think of “floating, etc.”) maybe go through a couple drills, and be prepared to be amazed because you hit (or even exceed) your times once you get back to the work at hand!

This looks simple on paper, but when you are out there and come across this, sometimes we let the ego interfere and go option #1. Then when we pull ourselves out of the water or off the track and we self-process this through negative, self-defeating talk and or behavior. We go on and on throughout the rest of the day this way or bring this to bed with us.

We love to struggle, we love the “Hollywood” movie version of ourselves where we come back from near death., etc. and yes, sometimes taking the more difficult path may hold some benefit. But face it, what we do as athletes is mostly for our personal enjoyment. I believe that employing a sound “regrouping” protocol practiced on a consistent basis will contribute and bring true empowerment in your athletic and work life.

Please feel free to post any comments or contact me with any questions. Stay safe and see you out there!


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