Win on the Uphills

The 2009 Tour De France has come to an end. I am a huge fan of cycling. The amount of suffering these guys put themselves through is incredible. In the Tour, they’ll attack these Alpine climbs (where you ride up steep grades for literally hours on end) day after day for the duration of the 3-week event.Watching Lance and Albert fly up these climbs was inspiring.

What I always notice is how cyclists can easily put time into their competitors on a long uphill climb or series of climbs. However, on the downhills, they rarely gain much time – and often end up giving back some of their gains. The race really does reward those who are able to buckle down and dig into the uphills.

Seth Godin had a great post about Winning on the Uphills. I think this is spot on. Improving relative performance is very difficult on the downhills but very possible on the uphills, if you are willing to do whatever it takes. It might not be easy, but growth rarely is.

Instead of waiting for things to go perfectly or for the wind to be at your back, dig in and know that by pushing through the hard times, you’ll come out far stronger and with a headstart when you eventually hit the downhill parts of life – that is to say – when things seem to start going your way again.

Get Back in the Groove

I have a tendency to go to extremes. I set clear and sometimes audacious goals, achieve them (at at least give it a good attempt) and then frequently fall off the bandwagon a bit as I succumb to what I call the “post-goal blues.” When I raced triathlons, I found this “disease” to be common amongst my racer friends.

We’d train hard all year for a big race, and then the day after – feel relieved that the event was over. No more worries about squeezing a workout in, dealing with soreness or dreading another track workout. A week later, we’d be enjoying our time off from training. A month later, we’d be scratching our heads while looking at our ever-growing bellies and wondering what the next big goal is gonna be – but feeling too unmotivated to actually come up with one. I experienced the “blues”big-time after my last Ironman – totally stopping any sort of training routine for over a year.

Time away from a purpose-driven and goal-driven life can be a good thing. It is like going on vacation and getting away from all the demands you might have at work or home. However, at some point, you need to get back in the groove and reconnect with those things that really motivate you long-term, even if those things might require a bit of work on your part (like getting in the gym, learning to speak that language, hitting the trails or writing that book you’ve been putting off, whatever it is!).

All athletes have an off-season, even folks like Lance Armstrong – 7-Time Tour de France champ – takes at least a month off at the end of each season, chowing down on burritos and drinking beer. Even in my place of work, our executives tend to check-out during the month of August, enjoying the summer time and relaxing while they can. The key, though, is not to let yourself take too much time off and fall off track.

I’ve written a lot about goal setting and vision boarding. One of the great things about vision boards is that they give you a visual reminder of what is important to you. They become super important at times when you feel yourself getting off track and taking things too easy. We all know the difference between taking a little break and just being lazy.

If you haven’t checked in on your new years resolutions (or as I like to call them, new years “intentions”) or looked at your goals sheet or vision board in a while. Now is the time. Take it out, dust it off and remind yourself what is important, and think about what you can do right now to make progress against those things that at one point were so incredibly important to you, and assuredly are now too.

(a 1-room cabin in the high in the Rocky Mountains, where I spent 5 days fasting and meditating in utter silence).

Better yet, if you have a chance to get away for a few days and check-in on your goals and new years intentions, that can be incredibly powerful. Find a cabin or a bed & breakfast that is away from the hustle of your current life, and just take time to reflect on what you achieved this year so far, and what you are looking forward to achieving during the rest of the year. Recommit to achieve those things that are most important to you. Get yourself back on track.