Confessions from a Personal Trainer: My first outing with a fat bike

Where every Tuesday: I confess.

Confession: I picked the bike up, slammed it down, said some curse words and got EXTREMELY frustrated.


I like to try new things. I have also realized that I like to be good at these new things and when I’m not, I get extremely frustrated.

This weekend included so many new things and so much frustration. And here’s another insight – letting yourself get that frustrated is really a kill joy and can dampen your experience.

Friday night I went to parkour and free running class. I did this fairly consistently about a year and a half ago and it was great training for Tough Mudders. Learning to run across obstacles, vault over them, swing through the bars, etc. So this week I ended up in the free running class and we were working on underbars. This started out ok. I remembered some of it. But we went through the different skills fairly quickly and I just simply can’t catch on that fast. There’s a reason I never really did sports as a kid – my brain doesn’t have the “okay body, now do THIS” pathway. I have to tell my brain to listen, send the signal to my body, and then expect to put it all together.”  As we progressed I found myself getting frustrated because I couldn’t do it like the teacher demonstrated or like the other people in the class. My favorite line from the teacher “well……that was interesting.”

Moving on to Saturday morning and I found myself at an “Intro to Ninja Warrior” class at the local Ninja Warrior gym. Now this was cool and will be extremely helpful to learn new skills as they will relate to Tough Mudder and obstacle racing. The class started and we did some easier obstacles – quintuple steps, baby warped wall, and then we moved on to rope swings, rings, swinging from bananas (not real of course), running the BIG warped wall, and then we had time to play.



I got frustrated. I can’t swing on the ropes, I couldn’t get up the wall, my hands were killing me, why can’t I do these things??? 

I seemed to have forgotten that this was the first time I had tried most of these things. Who is ever good on their first try?? Clearly I couldn’t get that into my head. I just continued to be frustrated.

Saturday progressed and I found myself at fat tire bike race. I’ve never ridden a fat tire bike. *For those of you who are not familiar, fat tire bikes are ridden here in the north on the snow often when it’s really cold out.*  I checked in and the guy said “Have you ever ridden a fat bike before? No I replied. He says – OH, well these are not ideal conditions.” Great I’m thinking, but this will be still be fun. I’m super excited.

The excitement lasts 0.3 seconds once I get on the bike. It happened to be 40 degrees that day and the snow had turned to mush. Fat tire bikes are not really for riding around in mush. So I took a practice ride around the course (which mind you is only a 1.6 mile loop that I will do 2x for the race.) O.M.G.

  • I can’t even get my bike to go

  • I get stuck and the wheels stop moving

  • I FALL off the bike

  • I can’t figure out my gears

  • I can’t steer the bike

  • My abs are working so hard to simply hold onto the bike


And the race hadn’t even begun. But I still try to think – this will be fun, this will be fun, this will be fun, this will be fun.

During the race I alternated between these thoughts.

  • This sucks, why am I here?

  • I can’t do it.

  • I am terrible at this

  • I GOT THIS (I said this out loud many times)

  • I am awesome for being out here

  • I’m trying new things

  • F this

At one point I literally got off the bike, picked it up, slammed it down, said some very bad words, checked to see if anyone was around and then got back on the bike.

SERIOUSLY – why did I expect to be good at this? Why did I expect to be good at all the ninja obstacles? Why did I get so frustrated and mad?

I deliberately tried during the bike race to change my mindset and my self talk because I knew that I was being so outrageously critical and ruining my own fun.Here’s the deep down truth (after quite a bit of reflection).

I couldn’t finish the mile in elementary school, I was terrible at sports (on the F team), and I was always embarrassed by my lack of skill.

This is my story. This is my history and as much as I have tried (and succeeded) to change my narrative and my story – it still comes back to haunt me at times.

The bottom line is – trying new things is the way you keep your life interesting, your mind creative and sharp, and your body challenged. No one would ever – EVERexpect you to be good at something on your first attempt. So don’t be hard on yourself.

Malcolm Gladwell researched practice and said 10,000 hours of practice could bring someone to the level of a professional. Then this TIME  article claims that there’s more to it than just practice.

I challenge you – try new things – but remember that the benefit you get will come from trying it – not from succeeding on your first attempt. 

*And for the  record – I finished 9th out of 16 finishers in the bike race, so I wasn’t even last.*

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