A good week training and the psychology of flow

It has been a good week training. I managed to get time on the bike everyday, except for the planned rest day, and missed my target by just 20 minutes. I say time on bike, as I can’t bring myself to call turbo training riding just yet.

Training Load 2012-01-29

Looking at my fitness (blue) and fatigue (red) it does seem like the little and often approach is working better. Compared to the same time last year, progress is much better, and even compared to when I final get my training sorted back in March, the rate of improvement is better. Looking forward to see how things progress.

I’ll aim to do the same again next week, perhaps do a full day commute, rather than split it as I did this week. For the Sunday ride, two or three loops of the new XC loop at the Forest of Dean might be in order.

Now time to get geeky. The term flow is used a lot in mountain biking, and while it seems obvious what this means when it comes to buzzing down a trail, it always felt like there was more too it than that. So when reading an article on flow in software development I was stuck by how much of it matched what I felt when I hit a nice bit of trail and get in the zone.

The original list comes from a psychologist with the unpronounceable name of Csíkszentmihályi. He identified 10 factors that were often described when experiencing flow. I’ve edited them down a bit.

  • Clear goals with the challenge and skill level both being high.
  • A high degree of concentration focused on a limited amount of detail.
  • The merging of action and awareness, and a sense of losing yourself in the activity.
  • A distorted sense of time, so that successes and failures are quickly apparent, and behaviour can be adjusted as needed.
  • The activity is neither too easy nor too difficult, so the ability level and challenge are balanced.
  • A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  • The activity itself is rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  • A lack of awareness of bodily needs such as hunger or fatigue.
  • Absorption into the activity, so there is only awareness of the activity itself.

Apparently not all are needed for flow to be experienced. Question is, will knowing something about the psychology of flow make it any easier to find out on a bike? After all who’s really wants to ride without it?

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