Aug 26Liked by Griff Wigley

Years ago as a junior high wrestler I was so stressed for every match that I under-performed every time. Actually, I under-performed significantly. I wish I could tell you what changed but by high school I had at least accepted stress as part of the territory. Since then I am not distracted by stress when performing physical activities. Not many insights here but for me stress is not much of a factor mountain biking.

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Aug 26Liked by Griff Wigley

This is a huge amount of physiology/psychology to cover at one gulp!

I'd suggest treating the basic physiology (how the body works) before adding the complications of psychology (how we screw up how the body works).

Then ponder how we tend to over-simplify all such events by herding them into categories and making them fit a preferred picture. If we can honor the synergistic interactions involved ("organic"?), we can appreciate the interactions and complexities of our endeavors.

Basically........it takes "stress" (things working in motion) for anything to move. Otherwise you're "resting".

"Bad Stress" ("Distress"-Selye) is when the parts are working inefficiently and not getting the job done with minimal deterioration.

"Good Stress" ("Eustress" - Selye) is when the machine is working as smoothly as it can..........conserving energy as much as possible and keeping wear to a minimum.

Such functions are managed and controlled by electrical impulses and chemicals and are partly autonomic........they happen without conscious input. However we are learning more and more that the brain ("mind") has greater input than previously suspected, so that's where the psychology intrudes. Unfortunately our conscious input is often screwed up so we prevent our systems from functioning efficiently. We have invented the art and craft of psychotherapy to deal with this........along with a slew of medications, therapists, theories and interventions to join the dance.

The original, basic, idea was that, when presented with a voluntary, enjoyable, challenge in the great outdoors, all this would come together naturally and........Voila..........Mountain Biking!

When we are developing a new skill we need to learn the mechanics of the feature, our bike, our body (how much pedal force to use etc.) and some basic physics (like gravity). What we are looking for here is not to eradicate any kind of "stress", but to find an optimum, Goldilocks, mix (not too hot, not too cold).

If our mental processes are not ready for the challenge, we need to give them some consideration too. There may be a fly in the ointment or just some new interpersonal skills that need honing.

However, we need to watch that we give the amazing natural ingredients a chance to work their magic, with the minimum of interference from the stern guardian Out There............

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Aug 27Liked by Griff Wigley

Lots to think about there Griff! Or should we call you Grumpy Grandpa Griff? :)

I suffer quite badly from stress both professionally and personally. Professionally I have learnt to feed off it and use it to help me perform well. I've had mentoring roles with some younger staff members and it is amazing how many of them were embaressed or stressed about being stressed and how relived they were when I shared my feelings with them. My standard line - if you're not stressed you don't care so why are you even here?

Personally I'm not so efficient. I've entered a few social MTB races with the intention of 'challenging myself' and although I generally enjoy the event, I often end up picking up a chronic injury as part of the preperation or event. And as the event approaches I get increasing nervous about letting myself down or showing myself up, to the point of broken sleep and nightmares. A few years ago I was trying to get fit enough to tackle a 4 day stage event in Tasmania called 'Wildside' and my wife woke me up one night as I was whimpering and pedalling my legs in my sleep. In my dream I was sprinting down a lane trying to escape a black dog that was shadowing me in the undergrowth.

I also generally only ride with close mates or alone and rarely join a social ride with people I don't know. And I struggle to attempt any skills that I am not very proficient at in front of anyone - I'm known to have a wide repertoire of trackstand variants but few other talents.

One other thing to consider about stress in general is whether it is self-imposed or put upon you. There is research known as the 'Whitehall Study' that found that stress amongst senior civil service management involved in significant decision making was much less than the underlings actually doing the work. One theory is that the stress response is due to a lack of control when a policy is passed down to you. Obviously MTB is largely the first one, but if you eg enter an event because you think you ought to it may lead to a different stress result than if you really want to.

Anyway, I've gone on too long. I like the idea of reframing stress and will add that book to the list - until then I look forward to hearing what you discover. And that bike rodeo looks like it was a heap of fun for everyone!

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