Our riding and racing can be profoundly affected by how we conduct our relationships. Teammates, competitors, training partners, coaches, employers, significant others: all can play important roles in the progress, fun and success we experience in cycling. As a result, communication is a crucial skill for the mentally fit cyclist.
Last month, I explored Concentration, the fourth of the five core skills of mentally fit athletes. This month, I look at Communication in more depth.
Let’s briefly look at the big picture: our relationships play a central role in our life experience. They bring us joy, they bring us pain, and they bring us up against the opportunities for growth we find….
– if we have the courage to look – in ourselves. Relationship expert David Schnarch is fond of saying, “we don’t work on our relationships; our relationships work on us.”
Your cycling, like everything else in your life, exists in the context of a web of relationships that have meaning for you. To varying degrees, all of the people in your web have an impact on you. And what you think, feel, and do has an impact on them. (Actually, to be completely cosmic for a moment, many people feel that all of us on this planet are interconnected. This is what the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls interbeing and the scientist James Lovelock calls the Gaia Theory. )
Coming back to Earth, or at least your local roads and trails, here are some common ways in which relationships can present challenges for your cycling:
• Your spouse, significant other, or children want more time with you, or you feel
guilty about taking time away from them, or both;
• A rider cuts you off or causes you to crash;
• Your teammates are acting like “married singles”: working too much for
themselves rather than working together;
• The workout you had planned for the day is not what your riding partner wants
• Your boss or your colleagues at work are becoming resentful that you take
some Fridays off to race;
• You’re ready to step up as a leader on your team, and you need to ask for
your teammates’ support;
• You’re in a race or ride and want to get people from other groups/teams to work
• You’re in a breakaway with a teammate near the end of a race, and need to figure out who’s working for whom, and when;
• You don’t feel you and your coach are “on the same page.”
The above introduction comes from an article by Marvin Zauderer that appears on Pez Cycling News. In it, Marvin goes on to offer some fabulous tips on how to improve communication between you and your coach, your spouse, your teammates, etc. Here’s the full article.