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Racing With the Mind and Working through Mental Blocks

What a great weekend!

this past weekend was my last official gravel race for the 2022 season. Coming from some bad luck a couple of weekends ago at Belgium Waffle Ride, I needed redemption.

This weekend was the 3rd annual Salty Lizard Gravel race in Wendover Utah. Way out in the boonies and in the land of the salt flats! an incredible change of scenery for me. A mirage of white almost snow-looking salt covering miles and miles of desert land.

100 miles of somewhat flat gravel riding, but not an easy task. Sandy, rocky, rutty, and technical areas made it a tough day. Matthew and I camped with a newer but great group of friends the night before under the full moon. It was a really great area.

Coming from the crash at BWR, I was a little reluctant. I told myself that this race would be for FUN. making the last one FUN and taking pressure off about results or time. From years and years of racing, the push for results and being at that top end can have its toll. During this race, I came across many thoughts on how much we are so hard on ourselves, especially in times when life is stressful. It happened and it was hard, but in moments we suffer, we tend to put ourselves down more or feel bad. I wish I could say life is all daisies and poneys leaping in the field, but it's not. we have down moments to make us appreciate the good moments better. We also have down moments to help us be intuitive to ourselves and learn to be stronger within.

Crashing hard took a little bit out of me. I was mad because it happened and I couldn't continue to race, but I was also down on myself for feeling timid after certain technical sections. That made me dive into the psychology of when we endure moments of difficulty that can leave us with pre-post-traumatic stress disorder. It's not a bad thing, it is very normal in our psychology to go into this carebear mode. it can take up to a month to feel full back to normal again. This isn't just with taking a tumble on the bike and falling hard, it goes along with moments in the life of super stress or other events that can leave you in this traumatic mode for some time.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to sit on it and be aware. we don't necessarily think of it affecting us as much, but it does.. and it lingers.

I began to realize my body was still in that mode so I listened to it. I took my time in some areas, but I also took away the thoughts that would try to put me down or be hard on myself. With that, incredible mental stability and strength began to shine. Crashing out is no fun, but standing back in the line for a 100-mile race that's unknown is intimidating. But boom. relieving the stress of the mind, and taking care of my mind created this special relentless mind and after 6.5 hours of hardcore riding, I crossed the finish in the open women's field 25 min ahead at 1st place. Now of course I love sharing the news of an awesome last race of the season win with you all, but I wanted to say, not all the race was perfect. during long, short, or any type of rides, even life in general, we go through moments of mental strength and mentally distraught. it comes in waves some waves can be quick moments, and some waves can be full-on weeks of dreading that hard workout ahead or a certain task you have to do at home. It is very normal, but as you grow in this world of cycling and the community we have here, you can hack the brain and teach it to withstand moments of defeat, but also learn to build and work through them. There were many moments I was tired and so ready to be done. There were many moments I had some doubts and wanted to stop. But as we become more aware of our thoughts and what that entails, we can then begin to change them and work with them. There is a reason why I say

Work with it.. not against.

Our minds can run us. It can be good and it can be bad, but yes, there is a way you can withstand these moments and work through them. Not every time it's going to work, but the more you practice, the better you can begin to rule over the mind and find fortitude in hard moments. That's why I love cycling, it hasn't just made me fit and feel good, it has taught me to grow as an individual but learn to overcome things in life, and be the best I can be. I'm sure you can relate to little moments in life you realize you get through using the same hacks you do for a tough workout or a long ride.

Let's get into some tips for overcoming these moments so you can take them and get mentally stronger.

First, we have mental blocks that bring up that barrier. During Rides, I call these mental walls. They are bound to happen. I had a good handful of them during the race. Some are Nutritionally, but many are that mental block where the mind just says.. Nope... NO CAN DO.

and yes, that's a lovely mental block.


What is a mental block? Why do they happen, and how can you overcome them? 

In definition, a mental block is a psychological obstacle or limiting mindset that prevents you from completing important tasks and achieving success. Mental blocks are invisible barriers standing in the way of your productivity. Mental blocks usually occur when we get trapped by our thought processes. We may feel so overwhelmed or anxious about a project's outcome that we’re unable to do the work required to complete it. It can also be feeling overwhelmed with the terrain ahead or the fatigue at the moment. a little hill can seem like a mountain. 5 miles can seem like 20 miles.

What are the common causes of mental blocks?

The most common mental blocks causes are:

  • Mental exhaustion: Having to make too many decisions within a short time can be exhausting, leading to mental blocks.

  • Lack of sleep: Having little to no sleep makes you prone to mental blocks.

  • Poor nutrition: Poor nutrition causes mental blocks. For example, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause depression and memory loss leading to mental blocks.

  • Medication: Mental blocks may occur as a side effect of prescription medications.

  • Procrastination: Procrastination can lead to anxiety, which in turn causes mental blocks.

  • Cluttered work environment: Cluttered or chaotic work environments may make it difficult to get into a productive mind frame.

  • Impostor syndrome: Impostor syndrome, or the feeling that you’re inadequate or incapable at work, is a common cause of mental blocks.

  • Perfectionism: Perfectionism can lead to procrastination, self-doubt, and mental blocks.

  • Pessimism: A negative outlook causes mental blocks. If you believe you have no chance of success, you may become unmotivated.

Now don't feel like it's the end. there are ways we can work through these moments and overcome them. This can be in life but also apply to riding.

1. Break down the project

One of the best ways to get over a mental block at work is to break down your projects into smaller tasks and activities. If you’re overwhelmed by the project’s size or how much you have left to do, ease into making progress by tackling the smallest possible tasks first. Wrike's collaboration workspace helps you break down your projects using a simple list, table, Kanban board, or Gantt chart.

2. Declutter your workspace

If your work environment is cluttered, your mind may be cluttered as well. The cleanliness of your workspace can affect your thinking and performance at work. An organized desk helps you find and reach your tools without interrupting your flow.

3. Take a break

If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to work through a mental block, the next best thing you can do is take a break. Try some unrelated activities like solving a crossword, washing dishes, or talking to a friend. Breaks help to reset your mind and connect the dots. You could even take a nap to allow your subconscious to work through the mental block.

4. Get an outside perspective

Most times, mental blocks are caused by getting stuck in your thinking about an issue or project. Exposing yourself to new ideas gives you different perspectives and solutions for your work. Try reading articles, talking to others, and doing some research online. You can also get over mental blocks by using templates to guide and outline your work. Wrike's creative brief template, for example, helps creative professionals and agencies set expectations, define project goals, and start projects on the right foot.

5. Control your inner chatter

If you pay attention to your inner monologue, you'll notice the thought patterns that block your progress – fear, perfectionism, impostor syndrome, or even a combination of several emotions. When you know what these thought patterns are, you can tackle them. Exercising, meditating, and journaling are great ways to become more mindful and control your inner chatter.

6. Improve your skills

Feeling inadequate is one of the main reasons why people experience mental blocks. If you feel unprepared for a project, you should take time to research, learn, and practice. Over time, you’ll get comfortable enough to overcome mental blocks and perform better at work.

7. Reduce stress

A daily schedule can help you reduce stress. Knowing what you have to do, reduces the need for decision-making. In turn, this eases mental fatigue and improves your efficiency. Keeping your work and workspace organized also helps to reduce stress and workplace anxiety.

8. Compartmentalize your work

Compartmentalizing your work and setting early deadlines for critical tasks alleviates the mental blocks that can come from feeling overwhelmed with too much to do. Wrike's project management tool provides both work and personal spaces for you to organize and schedule tasks alone or with your team.

9. Use your fear positively

If you believe you will fail before even starting a project, you may self-sabotage or perform poorly, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Utilize your fear by preparing for adverse project outcomes, as well as positive ones. When you’re aware of all that can go wrong, you’re better equipped to deal with it, especially in the project planning stage.

10. Rest

Resting is one of the best ways to maintain mental health and overcome blocks. Getting a regular 7-9 hours of sleep every night keeps your mind sharp and ready. If you push yourself relentlessly, your exhausted brain will throw up mental blocks.

11. FOOD!

Mental blocks during rides can especially be caused by a lack of hydration or not enough food in the form of carbs to help your glycogen stores that help create energy. Our brain's energy runs on 90% of carbs for its energy. This is the energy to think and process moments in the present. So I always say, you know you are in the midst of a bonk when your mind begins to cloud and you begin to doubt your ability. Getting in proper carbs to restore and help the process of energy can most definitely help with the mental block/ wall.

Most everyone will go through these moments of mental blocks. That's where we can find our inner negative thoughts get the best of us. Putting us down and making us feel worse. Its in these moments that you are aware of how these thoughts come about and begin to learn to push sit with them and think about the importance of them for your future health.

Good habits and self-knowledge are the best tools to get over mental blocks. These skills also make you reliable at work. On the other hand, if you have bad habits and avoid self-reflection, you could face chronic mental blocks leading to low creative output and less confidence.

It’s important for creatives to understand their limiting thought patterns to overcome mental blocks and perform at higher creative and productive levels. When left unchecked, mental blocks are a common cause of missed deadlines, mediocre work, and lost opportunities.

Helping ease these mental blocks is also taking about it. I invite you to open up about these hard moments you have endured. We learn and grow through each other's experiences and can work together to overcome them. One Quote I keep close in mind when enduring these blocks and working through them is

This moment shall pass... it will never last forever. Step by step, I am closer to overcoming and becoming more powerful myself.

You learn the most about who you are when enduring these moments and getting through them. Thank you for listening today and let's get stronger thinking ourselves stronger through the powerful mind work of our mental strength and fortitude.

Be Kind, Do Fearless


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