“I can’t get up that hill.” “I can’t ride with you. I’m too slow.”
I cannot tell you how many times other women have said this to me, and it’s a big reason why I don’t have many other women to ride with.
Fear of others judging us is a huge obstacle to overcome, and it takes realizing that we all started out somewhere. We need to stop comparing ourselves to the women around us, in magazines or on tv. We should only compare ourselves to the person we were yesterday.
I’m not immune to self judging. I see how so and so has a flat stomach or no cellulite or skinny arms and the negative conversation I have in my head begins with, If only… If only I were 20 lbs lighter. If only I were 20 years younger. Blah blah blah. That’s right, Butler. Keep dreaming.
It’s unlikely I ever will be 20 lbs lighter and I will never be 25 again. I must be OK with that – for my own sanity. I try and focus on the things that I can do – I can squat 125lbs, and clean 85lbs. My PR in deadlift is 175, 10 lbs more than I weigh. I can hold a 16 mph average for 30 miles (by myself, just yesterday!) without blowing up.
I like how this article encourages us to not be apologetic for our newer fitness. Sportives (often called ‘tours’ in the US) can be difficult, but rising to the challenge is how you get better, faster and stronger. You’re stronger than you think you are.
In my indoor cycling class, I try and have honest conversations with my participants. I tell them that yes, indoor cycling class can be intense, especially mine, BUT the beauty of the class is that you control your own exertion. You can go as hard or as easy as you want. I encourage you to challenge yourself, but ultimately it’s up to you to take the first turn of the pedals. Change is hard, and often uncomfortable. Trust me, I know how you feel. There are still days that I feel slow, fat and weak.
Last month, I rode the French Creek Iron Tour with a friend of mine. The Iron Tour is in Chester County, PA and is a hilly challenge, even on the 20 mile course. In past years, I’ve done the 32 and the 50, but I’m still nursing a hip/IT band thing and 32 miles with climbing might be pushing the pain barrier farther than I’d like. (Injuries suck no matter who you are!)
Jen has been coming to my cycling class for about a year and has made great progress in her fitness. She has seen a large increase in her indoor watts through winter training. Jen rode the course on her hybrid and I had my new Trek Lexa, which isn’t much lighter than her hybrid. In class, we had been concentrating on breathing and pedal speed on climbs in class.
Did I leave her behind on the climbs? Well, yeah. Did I feel bad about that? Yes, but we each took the climbs at our own ability and I waited for her at the top, most of the time. Her goal was to not have to get off and walk up. Not once did she have to do that. Climbing takes practice. You have to actually get out there and do them to get better at it. (I need to start taking my own advice here!)
Now I have to get her to try clipless pedals.