Thoughts on Cycling, Mindset & Newbies

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a bicycle and that’s pretty close.

  • Cycling can be hard.
  • Unless you are going on an extremely leisurely ride and you have NO intentions on pushing yourself (nothing wrong with that either).
  • If you are fitness-minded and always like a challenge, cycling will be hard because of that. And you only have yourself to blame (but the masochist in you have to admit, you love every ounce of pain).
  • If you are a newbie or very unfit, cycling will be hard.
  • I think mainly because people go into it thinking it will be “easy” (compared to running). And when they realize it’s not, especially when cycling in hilly terrain such as our beautiful Vancouver, they will feel discouraged. And even give up.
  • But when you take into account the speeds, distance and time you will go on a bike, it’s going to be comparable or even harder than running.
  • I still have really bad rides. On days when I’m over-trained, sore from the gym, just plain tired or not fueled up properly. But I always go anyway and don’t give up because I NEVER think negatively about cycling. And I love it.
  • That’s why mindset and thinking POSITIVELY is so important.
  • When I go out for rides, all that’s in my mind is that I’m on a way to a stronger and better me… and of course, how much fun I’m having or going to have!
  • When I see a hill, all I care about is getting to the top. I don’t think about how hard it will be but when that happens, I simply embrace it.
  • If you go on a ride having negative thoughts (eg. OMG this hill is so hard. I’m never going to make it up! I’m going to die!!), then you will never enjoy cycling — you’re not allowing yourself to. Your getting so caught up in the negatives, you refuse to see the positives.
  • Remember, hills only last for a little while. And what goes up, must come down.
  • It never gets easier, you just go faster.

  • But seriously, rides don’t always have to be hard and about fitness. Slow down and enjoy those slow leisurely rides around the park or to a destination such as a yummy restaurant and dine, guilt-free.
  • Go on group rides because it’s a big, social event where fit and like-minded people get together and have fun!
  • You are extremely lucky if you have close friends or significant others to enjoy both harder and leisurely rides with. That’s an easy way to really fall in love with cycling.
  • Cycling is for everyone. There are so many different types of bikes, styles and routes to choose from.
  • Bikes makes the world a better place!

If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.

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    Benefits of Mindfulness to Fitness

    The one that I have learned from cycling and exercise:

    Mindfulness.

    A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

    When was the last time you slowed down and really took in your surroundings? When was the last time you really paid attention to what you were doing?

    When you think of mindfulness, you may think of yoga but mindfulness can be developed in many ways. Road biking has taught me to appreciate and be aware of my surroundings and to truly live in the moment. It has taught me to simply notice things that I may not have been aware of, if my mind was filled with unrelated thoughts of my present situation. It is really a fascinating experience!

    When you run, walk or drive a car, your mind can easily wander in all directions. Some days, I’ll drive to work and arrive at my destination, forgetting how I even got there. Yikes! When you cycle on the road with vehicles that can easily crush you or when you descend steep mountain switchbacks at freakishly high speeds, you cannot lose focus, simply because it’s a matter of life and death. Oops, did I make cycling sound even more scary than it already is? I swear, it’s not! I never really think of those things when I’m cycling anyway and the benefits outweigh ALL the negatives. The more you cycle, the more you will become aware and learn how to use meditation techniques to benefit you.

    Exercising is essentially a great form or meditation, and a great way to practice mindfulness and stay present. As you lift weights or do burpees, you can learn to engage your full attention towards your muscles working, which is also an excellent way to ensure proper form and making the most out of your workout. You can say mindfulness is also a safety net to prevent you from injuries amongst its many benefits.

    We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are.

    Benefits of Mindfulness

    • Live in the moment. You will appreciate the beautiful scenery, sights and sounds you will not otherwise be aware of if your thoughts are elsewhere. Beautiful things give us joy and joy helps us find peace.
    • Reduces pain. When I exercise, I try to embrace every ounce of pain instead of repelling it because I know that’s a part of the journey to getting better, faster and stronger. You don’t grow by staying in your comfort zone.
    • Helps you handle stress. We all know physical exertion produces cortisol and disrupts your bodily functions, but mindfulness will relax your mind, reduce stress and thus, bring balance back to your body.
    • Body-awareness. You will notice pain and discomfort but you’ll be able to experience it as a sensation that you can attempt to resolve, instead of labeling it as pain. Saddle sores? You’ll be more mindful to shift into new positions to find the one most comfortable to you. Getting tired? You’ll start to think of more ways to cycle more efficiently such as correcting your pedal strokes and regulating your breathing.
    • Environment-awareness. When you commit to noticing your surroundings, you will heighten the clarity of your thinking and be quicker to come up with solutions. Did the car in front of you suddenly slammed their brakes? You may have noticed an empty drive way you can quickly pull into, to prevent a crash. Hate tan lines as much as I do? You’ll remember to move the hem of your shorts around to minimize the damage!
    • Happiness. Instead of harboring negative thoughts such as, “when is this going to end?” or “I’m not going to make it!”, truly absorb yourself into every moment of your workout and welcome all the sensations. You will only then find joy in the activity you are doing.

    To be mindful, you must first release yourself from all distractions and that means getting away from your cellphone, the internet, social media… which is especially hard for us in the world we live in today.  Meditation and mindfulness are ancient art forms that’s been lost in our present culture but isn’t that more reason to practice it? Seriously, really try to get absorbed into what is going on presently in the moment. You will not regret it!

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      #TakeAFuckingDayOff

      If there is one hashtag that makes me really angry, it’s #NoDaysOff.

      1. Don’t be stupid.
      2. Don’t be naive.
      3. You’re not cool.
      4. Take a fucking day off.

      Over-training is a hazard, especially for those who are inexperienced or new to the lifestyle… and if you had experience, you would be smart to take days off. Rest and recovery is part of being fit and healthy and if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t doing it right.

      #TakeAFuckingDayOff

      WHY you should take a fucking day off:
      This is when your body is adapting to the stress of exercise— replenishing its energy stores and repairing damaged tissues. If you never let it recover properly, your body will continue breaking down from intensive exercise and regeneration cannot occur. Aim to take at least one day off a week to let your body rest properly— besides, there is more to life than working out and worrying about your fitness. You’re not going to get out of shape after a few days off.

      WHEN you should take a day off:

      • When you are constantly sore.
      • When exercise leaves you exhausted instead of energized.
      • When you see lack of results, no progression, poor performance and/or a plateau.
      • When you are experiencing elevated resting heart rate.
      • You’re health is deteriorating and you’re getting sick frequently.
      • You have trouble falling asleep and have a loss of appetite.
      • Loss of motivation.
      • Mood changes (depression, irritability, etc)

      WHAT you should do on your days off:

      • Active Recovery: Low intensity exercises such as the elliptical after a hard workout to cool down or take an active rest day and go walk your dog. Sometimes when your muscles are extremely sore and tight, it feels really good to do some low intensity cardio like an easy bike ride around the park to loosen it up.
      • Total Recovery: Nothing. Do nothing at all a.k.a. don’t fucking workout. But you may pay a visit to your RMT or use a foam-roller.
      • Nutrition: Eat the right foods to replenish your body.
      • Sleep: your body does incredible things when you are asleep.

      Yes, I know few do use the #NoDaysOff hastag to imply that they have “no wasted day” or not wasting a single day in their lives (wrong hashtag?), but that’s not the case for many. So please people, take a day off!

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