Is technology actually taking the mindfulness out of training?
by Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching
A recent post-workout comment, one of my athletes wrote, was, "I had no idea this workout was going to be so hard. I could not complete it." That comment, for me, was puzzling because within the workout description was, "this is a hard workout. Be ready to suffer." So, I asked her, "did you read the workout description or just upload it into your smart trainer and off you went?" The answer was the latter; she just uploaded the workout into her smart trainer and rode. She was not at all prepared for the workout. No breakfast before the workout, not well hydrated, and not in a mental headspace to push hard at 6:30 in the morning.
With all the technology that is out there to help us become better, faster, stronger, and more recovered, how much of it is actually taking the mindfulness out of training?
Mindfulness, by definition, means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.*
These days we have devices to tell us how well we slept, what our resting heart rate is, how well we are recovered from day to day, how to train, where in our menstrual cycle we are, and how much we walk and move around. The need to be mindful of our bodies and our own "sensations" is gone.
How can a person be an athlete if they can't listen to their body?
There is a time and place for these devices. Learning to take your resting heart rate can be a valuable tool as an athlete. A power meter can help you learn the difference between riding hard, riding easy, and riding steady (as a coach, a power meter is an invaluable training and racing tool). Recovery/daily strain devices like the Whoop can be very valuable to athletes as they learn to correlate how their bodies feel and recover (mentally and physically) day to day with both training and life stresses. Where I see a problem is when athletes rely on these devices so much that they don't know their own bodies, and they are not in the moment with their training. They are waiting for a device to tell them what to do and, thus, going through the motions without focus and intent.
As a coach, the most valuable information I use comes not from a device, or data; it comes from the athlete telling me how they are doing and feeling. How does your body feel? How is your head space and motivation? What are your "sensations"? Too many times, the answer is, "I don't know."
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them - without believing, for instance, that there's a "right" or "wrong" way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tun into what we're sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.*
I do not think all devices are bad. Most devices are great tools: great for teaching and great for learning, but not great for long term reliance. Instead, learn to rely on yourself, your body, and your listening skills to your own body. Learn to be mindful of your training, your recovery, your time management.
Mindful training, not mindless training.
- 3 nights of lodging (double occupancy)
- Breakfast each morning
- An opportunity to ride with and learn from ALP Coaches Alison Powers, Patricia Schwager, and Brie Walle.
- Entry to the Royal Gorge
- Wine, cheese, snacks, happy hour in Cripple Creek and Buena Vista.