By Day 21 I was feeling like my training plan was on track and my blogging skills were improving. My riding distances were increasing daily and so were my page views. And then the comparisons started. In this post, I’ll provide an update on my cycling progress, talk about comparisons, and how time blocking has been an instrumental tool to help me remain focused in all areas of my life.
Bicycle Training Update
Just in case this is the first article you are reading in this journey, I’m 21 days into a training plan to accomplish two 500-mile bike rides this summer. I also need to lose over 50 lbs. Oh, and I’m attempting to monetize this blog so I have an income. Let’s talk about bicycle training first. When I started this challenge, I hadn’t ridden more than 10 miles in 15+ years. You can read the other articles in this series here.
In my first week, I probably got 20-30 miles in for the week, the second week was 52 miles, and the 3rd week was 40 miles. According to my training plan, I should be getting around 35 miles a week at this point. I’ve had to modify my “week” timeline because Strava (the app I use to log my miles) runs Monday-Sunday. Also, Day 21 for me was the beginning of week 3 of my training plan (it started Feb. 6). The good news is, I’m ahead of schedule. The bad news is it’s February in the Midwest so we’ve had extreme cold and sleet this week. I feel no pressure to ride in extreme cold because both of my events are in the summer.
Gravel, Gravel, Gravel
All of my training is being done on gravel because there is an abundance of it where I live. My focus now is not on speed but on time and joy. I don’t want this to feel like a chore. To ride 500 miles in a week means I need to be comfortable being on a bike for 8 hours a day, in wind, up hills, and even in rain. In the past week, I was able to get in two 15-mile days back to back and then a 10-mile day after that. It takes me about an hour and a half to ride 15 miles at a leisurely pace on gravel. I’ll be using a road bike for the actual event and will be on the pavement so everything should move a lot faster as I train more.
It’s getting easier to mentally prepare to ride. We have a lot of wind in the Midwest and when I started, I literally checked the wind forecast before getting on my bike. Now, it’s just another part of the ride, like the sections of the road that are washboard gravel. It’s another challenge to overcome.
How Comparisons Can Impact Progress
So, I’m following my plan, feeling pretty good about my 15-mile days because, uh, I haven’t ridden that far in 15 years. And then I get on the Facebook page for the newbies of these two rides and see people posting about the 50-mile ride they just completed. Excuse me, the plan says we should be riding 5-10 miles per day at this point. What the hell?!
Being a bit competitive, this honestly just pissed me off. It’s funny how that happens. I’m perfectly happy with my progress until, ugh, I compare myself to others.
Social media – the bane of my existence as well as the motivator for my success.
Ride Your Own Ride (Live Your Own Life)
There is a time in my life that I would have gotten on my bike and ridden 50 miles just to prove I could. These days I’m happy to report I’ve both matured and not lost my mind yet. Competition is a tricky thing. While the progress of others is a great data point and can be very motivating to someone like me, it can also create a great deal of anxiety and make people want to give up. These days, I’m more about competing with myself than others. I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove to anyone but myself. WARNING: This could change as I get fitter.
Here’s the thing. When we compare ourselves to others, we aren’t factoring in all the data points to that comparison. Do they live in Florida and ride year-round? Have they been riding pretty routinely for the past 1-2 years? Are they younger? Are they overweight? Do they have to ride in the cold, the wind, on gravel? Could I ride 50 miles today if my life depended on it? I’m going to say yes, but. The but is I’d be worthless tomorrow. I’m all about “ride your own ride and live your own life” these days.
I have a lot to accomplish this year and wanted to take this opportunity to introduce time blocking to you. I’ve been time-blocking for over 20 years. It looks very different today than it did when I worked in a corporate role. And that’s the great thing about time-blocking – you can adjust it to fit your life. If you aren’t familiar with time blocking, let me provide a brief explanation.
What is Time Blocking
Time blocking is a time management technique that involves breaking your day into blocks of time, each dedicated to a specific task or activity. It is a highly effective productivity tool that helps people to manage their time more efficiently and increase focus.
One of the primary benefits of time blocking is that it allows you to prioritize your tasks and allocate time accordingly. By setting aside specific blocks of time for each task, you can ensure that you give each task the attention it deserves, without getting sidetracked or distracted by other things.
When I worked in a corporate role, I blocked time to work on or review projects, time for employee conversations and meetings, and time for planning and strategy. I blocked those times on my calendar before others could see if I was free and schedule a meeting.
Article: How to Time Block
How I’m Using Time Blocking for My Life Transformation
As an entrepreneur and someone focused on my health, I’ve combined a concept called The One Thing, by Gary Keller with time blocking to remain focused on what’s most important to me. According to Gary Keller, we optimize results when we remain hyper-focused on The One Thing. If I had to drill down my “one thing,” it would be my health for this year. My health and weight impact my confidence, energy, mental state, and mood. When those factors are at a peak level, I am invincible.
Yet having an income is pretty important too. Hence my time-blocking strategy and how it’s working.
5 am: Wake up, have coffee, read motivational content, gratitude, meditation
6 am – 11 am: Work on the blog, write articles, edit articles, market, create supporting videos
11 am-5 pm: Eat, hike, ride bike, stretch, non-profit time contribution, do errands, talk to friends
5 pm – 8 pm: Work on blog, vlog, etc.
8 pm – 10 pm: Read, reflect, go to sleep
I’ll likely change my time blocks as the weather changes so I can ride early in the morning before it gets too hot. You can change your blocks from day to day, or however, you like. It’s just easier if it’s the same each day.
The MOST Important Aspect of Time Blocking
Here’s the important thing about time blocking. From 6-11 am, I don’t talk on the phone, read text messages or emails, or let other things or people distract me. I let the phone go to voice mail and honestly, I leave it in another room so I’m not distracted by alerts, buzzes, etc. Because I’m not distracted, my focus is intense. I can get a lot accomplished in 5 hours because I’m not distracted every 10 minutes by a notification that I have an email or text. I’m not writing for 20 minutes and then getting on YouTube or Tiktok to watch a few videos. I’m completely focused on the tasks I have prioritized for the day. I do the same thing for the time dedicated to my health. Once I’ve completed those two tasks for the day, I’m very willing to have conversations and be available for people. And that’s why I try to get them done at the beginning of the day.
I know I’m fortunate to have complete ownership of my time. It wasn’t always this way. I used time blocking as a single mother working a corporate job. It’s an invaluable way to remain focused to accomplish your goals. Overall, I feel like I’m making good progress toward my life transformation. The biggest challenge for me will be consistency and the longer I maintain consistency, the more it becomes a habit. I’m telling more people about my adventure so I must be more serious this time.