Breaking your habit

This seems a counter-intuitive piece of advice, considering the importance I’ve placed on making a habit of your riding. A strong riding habit is the quickest way to discipline yourself and achieve something more from it. Truth is, riding in such a regimented way can oftentimes suck the fun out of it, so it’s important to sometimes step off the routine and mix things up. Here are a few ways you can break the habit in a constructive way.

Build rewards into the routine. Obviously, setting clear objectives while riding requires an extra bit of patience and planning. Sometimes, riding is the more difficult or time-consuming alternative (for example, spending an hour on the bike three times a week versus on your couch watching Youtube.) Give a little bend to your riding habit, and treat yourself to something for each successful marker you hit.

Rewards give you a little positive reinforcement, but sometimes there’s no fighting the neurotic tick of missing a beat. With a strong habit, if you’re doing something that sacrifices you reaching your mental goal of doing ‘x’, then make up for it by doing something else that scratches the itch. Say it’s been a rainy week and you can’t bring yourself to go out and ride, then substitute an alternate, but positive, activity. Do push ups, take your dogs on a walk, read a book, whatever. This helps ease the guilt that comes with upsetting the rhythm of a good habit.

My last recommendation is an endeavor that makes for a lifelong practice. Maintain mindfulness. There’s so much more to building a good habit then just riding your bike. It’s full of sacrifice, struggle, reward, discipline and planning. It’s not always easy handling all this, especially when your primary objective is just to get out and ride your bike. Things so simple seem as though they ought to remain that way indefinitely. There ought to always be a juvenile joy about riding. But sometimes there’s not. Sometimes you just have to recognize and throw in the towel, especially if your heart’s really not in it. Recognize if it’s an undue cause of stress or frustration or apathy, put your riding on pause, and just let it go until you’re ready to get back in the swing of things.

Allowing this to happen is a-ok too. The beauty of a habit is that if you practice it long enough, it becomes much easier to get back into the swing of things. A good riding habit can be disrupted, whether intentionally or spontaneously, and carry on in due time. To hell with the habit sometimes. You’ll get back on it. It’s like riding a bike.

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