From the first hard pedal stroke, I knew.
This was not my day. Nothing felt right on the bike. No strength. No power. No acceleration.
OK. I shift down a couple of gears and consider my planned ride for the day. I'm looking at almost 30 miles with 2,200+ feet of elevation gain on remote gravel roads and ATV trails in the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota in February. With unknown snow and surface conditions, I really don't know how long or difficult this ride will be. At least 3 hours. Maybe as long as 6. And probably pretty hard.
I do know that I don't feel strong. I just don't feel up for it physically, which happens every so often, regardless of my relative level of conditioning. However, I know that feeling is a sure sign that I really need to ride today. So, I call it a "Low Energy" day and ride anyhow. I just know it won't be pretty.
As I plug along, the road and trail surfaces are very soft, whether covered in snow or not. When I occasionally struggle, I pull back a bit. After all, it's a "Low Energy" day.
After a couple of hours of hard pedaling uphill through snow and mud, I eventually realize that I was not "Low Energy" today after all. I had plenty of energy, just not unlimited bursts of it to power through every soft stretch or sprint up every steep pitch. In other words, I had plenty of energy to ride my bike on this route, in these conditions, at a steady pace, all day long. I simply had to manage that energy properly. And manage my thoughts properly.
That's when I realized that calling such a day "Low Energy" was not only false, but self-defeating. By doing so, I gave authority to thoughts that conspired to shorten my ride, scale back my effort, and dampen my confidence. Just like that, I decided that today was no longer a "Low Energy" day.
So, if not "Low Energy," what then?
Calm Energy. I have energy. Calmly apply it.
Those thoughts carried me through the rest of the ride, which turned out to be about 4 hours of challenging pedaling through softened snowpack and wheel grabbing mud. I stopped more than a few times to physically recover from the effort. But I did not struggle mentally or emotionally, once I resolved to focus on channeling my Calm Energy.
From now on, I'll call such a day a "Calm Energy" day. When feeling slow, or sluggish, or just not my best, I will then call upon my "Calm Energy" to turn the pedals. And I'll see what the day brings.
I Can See Clearly Now, Johnny Nash, live on The Midnight Special (1973).