Cycology of Business #4: “We are what we repeatedly do”


Although Aristotle did not tackle the French Alps or the Dolomites on a road bike, his words can nevertheless resonate with amateur cyclists. “We are what we repeatedly do,” he wrote. “Excellence, then is not an act but a habit”.

Data shows that we mostly go through our daily lives unconsciously, relying on our habits and routines thus reducing our cognitive load so our attention can be saved and consequently allowing us to focus on more challenging and important decisions, such as training for an Haute Route event.

Since few of us are professional cyclists, free time is a luxury. It then becomes key to building good and productive habits.

Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit, identifies three main components to a habit loop:

1) A cue or trigger

2) The actual routine (i.e., the process of enacting the habit)

3) The reward that serves to encode the patterns for the future

It is first primordial to understand what our respective triggers are. The idea is to find a trigger from something that you already do on a frequent basis. For example, every morning when you switch the kettle on, you also put out a piece of healthy fruit to take to work.

Secondly, we must recognize that we can become prisoners of existing habits, our routines, which can then act as detrimental factors against the adoption of a new action.

There is a common notion that it takes ~30 days to change a habit or develop a new one but the actual timeframe all depends on the complexity of the habit. So expect that there won’t be immediate results or “quick wins” in changing a habit but instead to simply focus on “doing” the habit.

A lot of professional athletes, such as the recent double Olympic triathlon champion Alastair Brownlee (UK) has often repeated that it is best to concentrate on consistency rather than episodic training. The idea is to ride even a little bit numerous times rather than logging in 5h in the saddle once every 10 days. It becomes more manageable to schedule, easier to tolerate physically and psychologically, and the benefits will be eventually greater. The routine will be easier as a result to establish.

So what are some habits that you may wish to pursue as you prepare to take on an Haute Route event in later this year or in 2020:

- Ride frequently according to a program

- Ride at the limit or in recovery, don’t ride “in-between” junk miles

- Ride with a training partner (who is faster and stronger than you)

- Ride during the off-season winter months

- Stretch regularly for flexibility and strengthen the core

- Watch your weight (i.e., diet and alcohol consumption)

- Practice better bike maintenance

Remember that consistency is your fundamental key to success and that the repetition and accumulation of a series of small actions consistently again and again create change to achieve possibly something great like riding an Haute Route.