Exercise is the greatest stress reliever; Time for a fresh approach?
I’m a pretty happy guy, and I tend to be positive and in decent spirits most of the time. It’s not too often that I find myself in a bad mood, but yesterday morning was one of those rare occasions. It was a combination of several things coming all at once, as they do, conspiring over me in a dark and angry cloud.
Over the past decade I’ve learned a fair amount about health, diet, exercise and general well-being. Of all the knowledge I’ve absorbed, nothing has had more impact than this: exercise makes me feel better. Always.
Apart from a one hour trainer ride, I worked all day on Sunday, and I was facing another long work day yesterday. I decided that the only way I was going to get through the day was to take some time for a bike ride.
Anger, frustration, stress… we’re all human, we all feel those emotions from time to time. I’ve talked before about how negative energy can be used to fuel workouts. Why not take that negativity and turn it into something positive? Some of my best workouts over the past 10 years came about this way.
I rode 45 miles yesterday, and I was not in a social mood. From the moment I put in my earbuds and pedaled away from the trailhead I was all business. The harder I rode, the better I felt. The sweat pouring off me was like liquified stress, bleeding away…
I wasn’t gunning for any Strava segments, I just rode hard the whole time. I set 7 new PRs on various segments, and came within seconds of my existing PRs on many other segments. I had about a half-dozen top ten placings, and I also took the KOM on a 17.9 mile segment called Entire South Lake Trail (out & back). The previous record time was set back in 2008.
My average speed over the 45 mile ride was 19.4 MPH, which is not bad for a solo ride in the wind with numerous slows/stops for crossings. My average heart rate over the 2:20:31 ride was 169 BPM, so I was definitely working out there. Suffer score was 150 (“Extreme”).
Here’s the whole ride on Strava.
A couple hours of hard exercise and I was a different person. When I left the house I was in an absolutely terrible mood; when I returned I was all smiles. The rest of my day was fantastic.
If you have stopped exercising and are finding it tough to get back to it, maybe try something different this time. How about this: forget the gym, forget the weights (bet you’d never hear me say that!) Don’t misunderstand, lifting weights is highly beneficial and I strongly recommend that everyone do some form of strength training. But if you hate lifting and you force yourself to do it until you eventually get so sick of it that you stop all exercise, then it’s not helping you. Find something you love, and do it. Stop trying to be perfect, and go have some fun!