Day 261: Defensive pessimism

21 09 2010

In yesterday’s New York Times, author Gina Kolata discussed her first cycling competition: a 22-mile time trial. She and her husband Bill entered the race with none of the usual equipment used by time trialists. No aero bars. No aero helmet. No aero wheels. No team to ride with. No previous time-trial training. When the race was over, they both decided they were never doing a time-trial again. But once they saw the results posted the following day, they did better than they expected. She beat six out of eight women. Her husband beat six men and six women. Gina explained, “Of course, we were still at the bottom of the heap, but instantly our moods changed. We should do this again, Bill said. Only we should train, get aero bars and race again in the spring. Yes, I agreed. I’d love to see what we could do. How weird. From despair to hope, just because we did better than we thought we did.”

Apparently there’s a name for their change in mood: “defensive pessimism.” John S. Raglan, a Sports Psychologist from Indiana University defines it as “downplaying your ability and expectations.” By downplaying your expectations and ability, if you do poorly you are not crushed, and if you do better than you expected, “you get this payoff,” Dr. Raglin said. According to his research, the pessimists perform as well as the optimists in sports such as cycling and track and field.

David B. Coppel, a sports psychologist at the University of Washington, says recreational athletes take pleasure in a sport for its own sake and often feel no need to train and see how well they can do. “They don’t care about their times …. They are not trying to conquer a hill, but just trying to climb it.” And that sums up my feeling exactly. When I go on a ride, I don’t care about time. I don’t care whether or not I finish a route quicker than I did the time before. Most days, I’m just happy to get to the top of the hill.

Today’s food journal: (I did a horrible job sticking to my 20 points today. And I only have 5 weekly points left to use until Thursday’s weigh-in. BAD Alice!)

— Whole wheat english muffin = 1 point
— 1 Tbsp peanut butter = 2 points
— 1 small banana = 1.5 points
— 1 cup LF chocolate milk = 3 points

— Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich = 10 points
— Unsweetened iced tea = 0 points

— Power Bar (whole grain) = 5 points

— Grilled chicken breast = 3 points
— Spinach salad with raspberry dressing = 2 points (est.)
— 1 cup cous cous = 3 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.




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