Happy New Year and, by the way, a Leopard doesn’t change its spots…


For the longest time I have been a person of routine and order, with a systematic approach to life which carried over to my sports.  I have found to be successful, I personally need to follow a specific routine, a path if you will, hitting certain fitness milestones along the way in order to achieve my ultimate objectives or goals.  This is true whether I am talking about a specific race, losing weight, building strength and conditioning, whatever it is…

However, being super organized can be a double edged sword. While it helps me meet my goals, it can play games with me by mentally affecting and negatively impacting my workouts, if I let it.  For instance, the evening prior to a morning bike workout, I will prepare all the apparel and equipment needed.

Bike – visual bike check, pump up tires, fill two water bottles and place in cages, snap my charged Garmin onto my handlebar bike mount – DONE.

Kit – Layout on guest bed a Jersey, bibs, vest, undershirt, arm warmers, knee warmers, socks, heart rate monitor – DONE.

Miscellaneous items – On the stairs to the garage, place helmet, sun glasses, shoes, Shoe covers, garage opener, gloves, tire repair kit, cell phone, ID, and coffee money – DONE.

God forbid if I forgot one of these items! I would usually find out I have forgotten something once I had already left for the ride.  For example, let’s say I forget the heart rate monitor.  Discovering that I forgot the heart rate monitor, or another item, would really PISS me off!  This would mentally plague me to the point where the quality of my workout would be affected since I would have it constantly in the back of my mind!   To get the best of the workout, I need to have a clear mind.

As described, there are many items I need for a ride.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for me to forget something at least once every week or two!  Since I ride 5 times a week, this means I would be negatively affected around 10 – 20% of the time I was on the bike.  I needed to change the way I thought, to free my mind, otherwise I would continue to lose too much valuable workout time!

It was important that I became more flexible, to just go with the flow, and not be so rigid.  Once I did I quickly realized I could get just as good a workout whether I had or did not have the monitor (or tire repair kit, or coffee money, or my cell phone, or whatever!).  The only difference is not having a heart rate reference during the workout.   Also, after the workout I have no numbers, relating to heart rate, to download into my electronic workout log. SO WHAT! The world is not going to stop turning! My fitness will not become less because of it!

I started riding with feeling instead of relying on hard numbers!  I have found that I actually ride better that way.  Now when I race I don’t even use my heart rate monitor and belt.  It freed me up.  I think in the past having my heart rate numbers available during racing (even during hard workouts) slowed me down, and put up self-imposed mental barriers… “Oh, I am closing in on my maximum heart rate, I better slow down. I still have another 30 minutes to race!”  Not knowing my heart rate keeps my mind open and doesn’t allow me to shut down my performance, influenced by visual queues.


In past, I was all about lists and prioritizing.  I used to get really upset when things would not go my way…like someone calling an impromptu meeting when I thought I had the day free to work on my projects and get caught up, or if I could not complete my “to-do” list sequentially, as I had laid out the prior evening.  This all created stress for me.  In life, as in business, things never really go the way I exactly expect since there are too many variables that constantly pop up. I can’t control this, no one can!

Over time, I realized that I needed to change the way I conducted my life otherwise finding true happiness was going to be impossible.  I can’t remember when it was, but there was a day, not that long ago, that I just “surrendered” to the daily forces that come up.  To not do this was getting way too tiring.

I still like being super organized, efficient, ordered.  But, if things get out of place, a little crazy, or something gets in the way of what I have planned, so what!  I do not get flustered or frustrated.  I allow myself flexibility, knowing I will complete the task and close the loop a little later.

A leopard doesn’t change its spots, but I can sure as hell change the size of the spots…

~ by Jens Wallrabe on January 11, 2012.

2 Responses to “Happy New Year and, by the way, a Leopard doesn’t change its spots…”

  1. I’ve found that the less I bring to anyplace or event makes for a more enjoyable moment. When we shed gear-care; winning, loosing or having a satisfying time becomes a product of ourselves and not our equipment.
    T o quote Kris Kristofferson , “When you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to loose.” Or carry.

  2. Thank you Phil! so true!

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