Today's bike ride was a thing of beauty: 16.5 miles in the early morning (still cool) weather, and I rocked an 18.3 mph pace. If there is such a thing as "biker's high" I was feeling it. Adding to my joy was the sense of accomplishment that came with it. This was a pretty long ride for me, at just under an hour. I still think of biking as cross-training for running, so I've never really built up mileage. Riding a bike has definitely helped make me a better runner, though, and probably vice versa.
I've found that I use a lot of the same mental tricks on my bike as I do on my runs.
For example, one of the ways I keep my mind occupied is by looking at the strange things people lose on the road. I've seen forks, CDs, shoes, money, and more. Don't get me wrong, I live in the suburbs so it's not like the streets are littered with trash, but I do wonder how it's possible to drop a belt without noticing. Often, I find that there's a lot of one kind of thing (I call it the Item of the Day, or IOD) on the roads - today it was clothing. I saw three shoes, at least seven socks, a hat and the above-mentioned belt.
I can also count the animals, both alive and dead. This morning's ride had quite a few dead ones, but in the past I've seen a family of skunks, bunnies, snakes and coyotes. Today's ride also included many, many dog-walkers but not a lot of runners and no other cyclists (it's a big triathlon and road race weekend, though).
When I'm not scanning the sides of the road for stuff, I like to focus on a mantra. I pick a new word or phrase almost every time I'm out; today's was relentless. I pictured myself not giving up, pedaling hard, and staying strong for the whole ride. It definitely worked for me today - I went race distance at a racing pace. I realized near the end of the ride, though, that relentless was also a fine description for the discomfort of my girly parts - yikes! Today's choice of bike shorts will not be repeated on another long ride. :/
I think my favorite way to pass the time and miles, though, is plain old Fantasy Land. There I am, feeling strong and looking fabulous, crossing the Finish Line with a Boston-Qualifying time. Or, whoosh, I'm slicing through the water, clean and easy. Before I know it I'm outta the water and ready for the bike. I've read that elite athletes use visualization (just a fancy word for fantasy) to enhance their performance, so it's not just me!
Do you play head games, too? (BTW, if you're old enough to remember that song, it'll be stuck in your head now. You're welcome.) What's your favorite way to get through a long workout?