Go ahead, whine.

My coach listens to me complain. A lot. And the kicker is that I never actually want her to “fix” anything… I just complain because I need to tell someone in the world that I got run over or almost drowned.

I put forth a solid effort NOT to complain a few weeks ago. I decided that I’d be big and tough and hammer in my bigness and toughness by not whining about how I neglected to pack my gloves and how my hands sometimes got so cold during a ride that they stopped feeling cold… in fact, they stopped being able to feel anything. Saturday rolled around and I complained anyway.

It takes me a long time to learn certain lessons. And usually I have to relearn them later on. One thing I’ve learned (and relearned) is that the things we complain most about are also the things that help us the most.

Translation: It’s all good for me, ’cause it’s making me less of a pansy.

Not sleeping for 1 week but riding anyway taught me how my body performs when I’m tired… and how to push through it mentally. And that’s important! Anyone can train on 10 hours of sleep a day but pulling on a jersey when you’d rather be pulling on a blanket is a bit different. The bike turns into a 6-month-old infant, a soul-sapping, sleep-depriving, mind-numbing, spirit-killing obligation… that you just love SO much. I’m sure there’ll be times in the future when I’ll swerve to dodge a squirrel on my way to a race, crash into a ditch, call AAA (this one, not this one), wait 5 hours, arrive at my hotel way past my bed time, and wind up having to race through fatigue.

The constant 25+ mph wind that blows over farmland Texas made me a better judge of how strong wind affects my riding. I can now go outside, start riding, feel the wind, and have an uncanny gut feeling–just “know”–exactly when I need to turn around so the ride is the length it needs to be–and be right within 5 minutes. Not a bad margin of error for a 3-4 hour ride.

Freezing my fingers beyond numbness taught me to pack my stupid gloves even if I don’t think it’ll be “that cold.” It will always be “that cold.”

Riding by myself the gajillion times that I absolutely did not want to ride taught me what I’ve learned before: motivation and willpower are flimsy and unreliable. Sometimes it’s about getting a workout done because it needs to get done–walking out the door even though no one’s waiting on the other side.

Riding the exact same gray, monotonous route for five weeks taught me 2011 will look good but volatile for stocks, 2011 will be bad for the Euro, Germany’s economy is one of the few happy stories in Europe because of its reliance on exports, Netflicks’ stock is overlooked but potentially high performing, and how to sing all those Lil Wayne songs I’ve always wanted to learn.

So go ahead, whine. It’ll tell you exactly what areas of your life need de-pansyfying.