Posts tagged ‘biking’

The Mind Body Connection

Two days before I began my ride across America to raise awareness and money for diapers, I talked with my coach, Chris POSTERBagg. He had only been coaching me for 3 weeks, but his training schedule had made it possible for me to at least begin the ride with a reasonable certainty that I could complete it. In this last conversation before the onset of the ride, he talked about the mind body connection. He warned me there would be times my body would hurt. When the pain becomes intense, the mind has the option of telling the body to continue or to quit. So Chris had me think about images I would visualize at such times that would divert my attention away from the pain and allow me to complete the ride. He also told me to focus on the process – the next 10 pedal strokes. This would give my mind something else to focus on while improving my form at the same time.

So this is what I did. When the pain in my legs or my back or my neck became the focus of my thoughts, I chose to visualize Mount Rainier or the beaches of Hawaii. I focused on the mechanics of my pedal strokes. I focused on the most vulnerable in our society and the increased abuse of the infants who are not appropriately diapered. It was an amazing experience. As I focused on the needs of others, the beauty of God’s creation, and the calling I had to take this message across the country, I always had the strength to complete any ride on any day. I completed 108 miles in oppressive heat in Washington state, stiff head winds going to Yellowstone, the monotony of Kansas, the 18% grades in the Appalachian mountains, and the horrific traffic in northern Virginia. Without the mind body connection, I would not have been able to complete this ride.

We read in Luke 2:52 that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” What a picture of health! We were created to function holistically as a single unit with a perfect blend of the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of life. And so when Jesus described His death to the Greeks who saw life as divided between an immortal soul that transmigrates from one being to another at death and a mortal body that simply houses that soul, He said the following in John 12:24… “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus, who is described in Luke 2:52 as a living Being who is an integrated whole of body, mind, soul, was to lay down His integrated life so that we could do the same and experience His transforming resurrection power to become a “new creation” as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17.  We need every aspect of our being to overcome sin and bear the fruit of the Spirit that naturally develops in our new life with Him. This is the mind body connection at its best. When we understand the power of this connection as the integrated beings we are, we experience God’s power in our lives. And we can then “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Have you discovered the mind body connection? If not, I highly recommend you do!


What Does God Expect?… Journey

Looking back over the course of my life, there is not one thing I can say that I accomplished on my own without help from others. In grade school I can remember every one of my teachers who helped me understand math, reading, and how to write. In fact, the learning process itself demonstrates the need we have for others. Every invention ever made has come as the result of its inventor building upon the successes and the failures of others. I think of the professors I had in college who taught me how to think critically, read expansively, and write creatively. And then I think of fellow students who shared their knowledge with me which helped me get through calculus and physics classes.

Once in medical school, there were countless professors, medical doctors, and fellow students that helped me understand what would have otherwise remained secret and hidden from me. However, it was in medical school that I learned the most from those who knew the least. These were people who did not know medicine, but asked questions that I often had never thought to ask myself and didn’t know the answers without research. These people pushed me to become better. Some of them were brilliant in different fields of study, but knew very little about my field of study and yet they were part of my journey to become an accomplished physician. Some them were high school dropouts or even drug addicts, but they often taught me more than my professors of medicine. These people were my patients. Without their questions, their acceptance of me as a physician in training, their willingness to journey with me, my journey would not have been complete.

Of all the patients with which I interacted during my training, one stands out as teaching me the importance of seeing each person as an individual who has intrinsic value and who will add to my journey. Prior to Mr. Keith, I had seen patients as patients to be treated, not as people to be known and respected. I had seen me helping them rather than us helping each other. I had seen a patient-doctor relationship where I treated their illness rather than a person-person relationship where we each contributed to the other’s understanding of life and the journey we are on.

As a medical student on duty this particular night, I was given the task of drawing blood from Mr. Keith for an important lab study. He was a slight man in his eighties residing in the ICU who did not respond to my greeting. I briefly explained what I needed to do. He still did not respond. I prepped his arm and punctured his skin with the needle as I had done on a hundred other patients. But no blood came into the syringe. I advanced the needle further without success. I withdrew the needle slightly and repositioned it, without success. I removed the needle & re-prepped his arm repeating the process again, without success. I went to his other arm repeating the entire process, without success. I spent 30 minutes with Mr. Keith trying to find one of his veins while he laid motionless with his eyes shut. I finally left his bedside without completely my task.

Later that morning we did rounds on all the patients. Once we made it to Mr. Keith’s bedside I had to explain how I had failed to draw his blood during the night. The attending physician simply said to try again after rounds. At this point the heretofore motionless Mr. Keith sat upright in his bed and said, “Don’t let that guy stick me again!” I didn’t, at least that day. But over the course of the next several weeks, Mr. Keith became a mentor to me. I got to know him as a person rather than a patient. He had served in the calvary during World War I. His wife had died a few years earlier and now he lived alone. He was an intelligent, witty, resourceful man who taught me how to see obstacles as opportunities. It was a privilege to journey with Mr. Keith for over two months.

I’m thankful for Mr. Keith who taught me that the destination may be important, but it’s the journey that really matters. And our mentors are all around us. How is your journey? Who is mentoring you today?

Day 31 past Dighton, CO – Tracking Your Ride Stats

As I began the first day of the second half of this trip, I was very tired. Two days of riding in the flatlands is beginning to takes its toll as there is never a “break.” In the mountains you expend a lot of energy getting to the peak, but then there is always a descent that allows you to rest while you move. This doesn’t happen in Kansas. The only way forward is to peddle and peddle and peddle. It’s no wonder that my legs were more sore this morning and during the ride than at anytime on the trip so far. In addition, the saddle sore is beginning to cause a little more problems though it’s not to the point of needing “hotel surgery.” By the way, if I need to lance it, I have injectable lidocaine on the way with Pam when she arrives on Friday. So lancing without lidocaine is “motel surgery” while lancing with lidocaine is “hotel surgery.” I have always liked hotels better than motels anyway.

To get through an 80 mile ride in Kansas I divide it into 4 phases in my mind. I begin with a 30 minute warm-up by keeping my heart rate in low zone 2 and then gradually allow my heart rate to reach high zone 2 and a little time in low zone 3. This whole process takes 2 hours and is always the most enjoyable. I feel comfortable on the ride with no fatigue or saddle soreness. At this point I feel like I could ride all day. But then after about 2 hours I usually begin having one pain or another. This begins phase 2. Sometimes it’s my legs that feel tired, or my neck and shoulders, or my saddle. I have gone about 30 miles by this time and I know there are a lot more miles so I don’t allow myself to dwell on the pain. In fact I force myself to stay seated (rather than standing on the bike & stretching) and focus on my pedal strokes. This is the “process” that we’ve talked about previously. Usually I get to the end of the third hour before I know it and have at least 45 miles completed. I now enter phase 3 that is the middle part of the ride. I know this is the toughest phase because I am already tired, I’m not close to being done, and I have to grind it out the next 25 miles to get to phase 4 which is when I can “smell” the finish. In phase 3 I take 5-10 minutes off my bike eating actual food for lunch rather than the bars and gels I eat every 30 minutes throughout the ride as I try to consume about 400 Cal per hour. The lunch breaks up phase 3 for me so I can make it through. Once I get to phase 4 I simply concentrate on my pedal strokes knowing that when I focus on the process it always gets me home.

As I thought about the phases today, I realized that the stats I report to you in this blog should be more than just interesting numbers. The real reason for the stats are to help me analyze my ride so I can ride better the next time. They also help me track my level of fitness. There are different stats that are important depending upon the terrain I am riding in. Elevation gain is a very helpful stat when in the mountains, while the temperature and wind direction are much more important in Kansas. So you will see below that I will change the stats I will be tracking.

This leads me to the question, What “ride stats” do I track in my spiritual ride through life? How do you know whether you are growing in Christ or not? How do you judge your spiritual fitness? As I ponder these questions, I realize that devotional time with God is a very important “spiritual ride stat” for me. Another one would be anger. When I find myself getting angry at drivers on the way to work or with my wife at home, I know my spiritual fitness has waned. But such “ride stats” are only helpful if we track them and use them to grow in spiritual fitness.

Ride Stats: Total Miles- 80.1     Avg Temp- 74.1      Avg Speed- 15.2 mph      Avg HR- 113 bpm       Avg Cadence- 83


An early morning start to beat the heat… 



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