My cycling is very closely linked to the behavioural science I have been practising and sharing in all areas of my work in 2016. In a nutshell, my progress in cycling is a result of applying this behavioural science, know as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), to myself.
One of the core features of ACT is that we can explore and identify qualities (or values) that we could choose to act as a beacon for our behaviour and actions. This can give us a glimpse of a life lived with more meaning and purpose. The alternative is permitting our unhelpful thoughts and emotions to dominate our behaviour and actions. This can take us into frustrating, familiar and habitual patterns which often do not express who we would like to be and can also stop us doing things that are important to us.
Putting this evidence based theory in the practice I noticed that:
- My thoughts and self talk can be harsh and critical. The unhelpful thoughts and emotions in relation to cycling haven't gone away. They are still with me and show up regularly.
- The qualities of action (or values) that I chose to guide my actions have been strengthened through an appreciation of the results of my cycling. For example, increased fitness and weight loss. Also, the sheer joy of getting out on my bike, increasing my kilometres, varying my routes and exploring my surroundings have allowed me to continue and develop my activity.
- Encouragement and support from others has also been very powerful for me.
- We all get punctures, both real and metaphorical, in the pursuit of something new that has meaning for us. You can always reconnect with your values if it hasn't gone so well and sometimes find new ways to express them.
- Present moment awareness (another key feature of ACT) is an ongoing skill to be developed. It helps us to build that mental muscle that allows us contact with the present moment.
- Taking bold action (such as signing up for the Dartmoor Classic Sportive Medio - 109km in July 2017!) can be scary and invigorating at the same time.
You can read more about the approach here in a blog I wrote in May after I'd clocked up 124km.
Thanks for reading - Ross