I saw an interview with Andy Schleck, the guy who placed 2nd in this year’s Tour de France after he had a brutal day climbing in the Alps. He had been all but counted out the day before, but had a strong surge, broke away from the pack and climbed three major mountain passes.
The interviewer asked him what he was thinking about to make it up those climbs. He said “I just focused on the burning in my legs.”
It used to be that when I had lactic acid building up in my legs during a hard ride or during strength training, I just wanted to stop whatever was causing it. Now I have other techniques for meeting that sensation.
Sometimes the best tactic is to get my mind focused somewhere else to keep it distracted from the burn. So I’ll count pedal strokes if I’m cycling or clover flowers if I’m doing an outdoor boot camp. Other times, I try to get myself (and clients) to focus on the burn itself. One technique is to try to experience the burn neutrally–as a sensation, without all the drama. Sometimes I just say to myself- “well, my legs sure feel warm!” Or frame it positively– “Yes! That’s what strength feels like!”
I invite you to try it yourself next time you have a chance. In the spirit of Cadel Evans, this year’s winner and Andy and Frank Schleck (brothers who placed 2nd and 3rd) and the 163 other riders that made it over the mountains this year, focus on the burning in your legs.