How to Enjoy the Assault Bike
Written by TJ O’Brien
How do you deal with pain in your life? Do you eat it? Suppress it, then let it out in a rage? Ignore it until it goes away?
What about pain on the Assault Bike, or on a huge set of reverse lunges? Do you close your eyes and just wait for it to be over?
I once heard Maddy Myers (strong AF Invictus CF Games Athlete) say that she would try and say the alphabet backwards while doing intervals on the Assault Bike. She would cope with the pain by putting her focus to something she could control, instead of the passage of time, which we know is slow-motion when on the bike.
I think I can do Maddy one better. First, find something better to focus on instead of killing time with the alphabet or times tables. Instead of trying to divert your attention away from the physical discomfort, can you instead GET CURIOUS about the pain, putting your focus on the smallest details possible?
Focus on the Smallest Details
Some questions you can ask yourself include:
WHERE is the discomfort in my body? Is it in your chest, arms, hands, butt?
HOW am I breathing right now? Are the breaths short or long, shallow or deep?
WHAT does my form look like? Am I pushing with my whole foot? Am I using my arms effectively?
These are ways that you can ‘snap back to present’ if you find your thoughts drifting when doing some difficult or arduous task.
How to Use Noting to Combat Distraction
The next step comes when we inevitably get distracted. At this point we:
“Note” the feeling or emotion that distracted us. How we note, however, is very important. The idea with the noting technique is to be as objective and unattached as possible to the distraction you are acknowledging. “Like a feather brushing the side of a glass,” is a frequently used analogy to represent this type of thinking. It is gentle, delicate, and we’re not getting “involved in the thought”.
But TJ, won’t thinking about the pain make it worse? Short answer: No.
The noting technique helps us create SPACE between us and the feeling, allowing us to not get wrapped up in it, and freeing us up to move back to the task at hand. And if the task at hand is to do 20 calories on the Assault Bike, I promise you that trying to distract yourself until it’s over will mean spending more total time on the bike, and not gaining the mental toughness that you’re looking to get from doing this sort of difficult work.
Meditation Techniques for Workouts
I’ve been meditating with the Headspace app, on and off for about 8 years now, and it’s where I’ve learned about and practiced these techniques. As a coach, I see the most application for this technique in high-skilled movements where failure is almost guaranteed – think double-unders or handstands. But I personally enjoy the challenge of staying focused on the Assault Bike or other long, grindy workouts, where there is often enough time for us to let our minds wander, especially when under fatigue.
For more on this topic, check out a previous article I wrote on How to Use “Noting” in Meditation & Workouts!