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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    737

    Trying to get back into this

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    Hello all! I'm not exactly new to these forums, but it's been a few (5!) years. I took a detour into rock climbing and then last fall found out I was bipolar. I lost all desire to do anything for a good year because of that. Now that I'm on the mend mentally, I want to start healing physically again. Unfortunately, the lack of working out and the medications have made me gain quite a bit of weight. I'm hoping that getting back into cycling will help me start to lose these pesky pounds as well as mentally relax. I used to do longer rides, but I'm looking to stay at moderate distances now and just enjoy the ride. The hard thing for me has been comparing myself to what I used to be able to do (That hill used to be easy, I used to fly along here, I'm gasping for air!) Does anyone have tips on how to stop those negative thoughts and start focusing on the good that I'm doing by riding? I know it's going to take time to build my endurance again, but it's so hard not to get down on myself. That said, I'm looking forward to many miles on the bike this year and chatting with the smart, talented women here!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    Hey, I remember you! Welcome back :-)

    I haven't rock climbed in years now, (but don't want to "quit", I just don't want to do all the training...) and I'm sure I would feel the same way if I went out climbing on a familiar crag now.

    I think the best advice that would work for me would be to not do the exact same things I did earlier, if possible have your focus a different place from where you used to. If you used to go for regular training rides of a certain length, try to see if you can find completely different routes. Or commute, or run errands by bike, or go to different places for a purpose, to shop or take photos or watch wildlife. Or try trail riding, or running, or swimming instead. I'm thinking that the point is the total amount of exercise your body gets, and you know it'll be a long haul, so you might as well keep yourself entertained and see new things on the way :-D

    I hated starting to run, because I ran the same stretches that I rode my bike, and it felt like I was standing still. Now I run a route that I keep myself from biking, one that I actually can't bike because of steps, so I can still feel "fast"... Now I enjoy feeling more versatile, but it took a while. For a while there my only sense of achievement was that I actually had run that day.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,141
    That voice in your head telling you negative stuff is often the culprit of bad feelings. The key is to not just stop it, but to replace it with some kind of positive visual, mantra, or saying that will help you be in the moment. LPH has good advice. A few years ago I had to build back up to my previous level of endurance. I did lots of errand rides, going to farm stands, and riding to appointments. I still rode on the weekends and occasional fitness rides during the week, but I had to enjoy the present of each ride. Those little miles added up. I also went to yoga classes. The key is to have realistic, but fun expectations.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,854
    I don't have anything to add, except welcome back and good luck!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    737
    Thanks for the encouragement! I asked my brother if he would ride with me, but apparently he doesn't even want to do short rides anymore. I have a friend getting a bike so we'll be able to ride soon. As for my mental state, it's going to be tough to block those negative thoughts. I guess the main thing is that I'm even trying in the first place. Today I hiked. I want to have a mix of activities so that I don't get burned out. Yesterday I did 10 very slow miles on the bike but I felt great when I was done. I just have to remember that feeling I guess and keep trying.
    Last edited by NoNo; 05-26-2015 at 04:11 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,854
    Quote Originally Posted by NoNo View Post
    Thanks for the encouragement! I asked my brother if he would ride with me, but apparently he doesn't even want to do short rides anymore. I have a friend getting a bike so we'll be able to ride soon. As for my mental state, it's going to be tough to block those negative thoughts. I guess the main thing is that I'm even trying in the first place. Today I hiked. I want to have a mix of activities so that I don't get burned out. Testator I did 10 very slow miles on the bike but I felt great when I was done. I just have to remember that feeling I guess and keep trying.
    Yes, sometimes you just need to close your eyes and remind yourself how good you'll feel when you're done -- picture it in your mind.

    While you're riding -- look around, enjoy the trees, flowers, wildlife, whatever, maybe sing a favorite song to yourself. Take the bike computer off your bike if the numbers distract you.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,956
    Hi NoNo, I remember you! Welcome back!

    I've had problems with serious PTSD so I know just how difficult it can be to deal with bad thoughts and feelings. Knowing that feelings aren't real doesn't much help in the midst of things. and, for me at least, setting out to block bad thoughts never worked well at all. What works better for me are those activities that require focus on the present moment - like cycling, mountain biking, tossing kettlebells around over my head, etc. If I weren't so afraid of heights I would have taken on rock climbing, it sounds like fun!

    I like LPH's advice to mix up the riding and go different places/different types of riding than before. It is hard to shut up that inner voice that compares our current activity level/fitness with the past. Meander down scenic back country roads, go for grocery runs, ride in local parks. Focus on the scenery, breath deeply, enjoy the world around you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,141
    Blocking the negative thoughts is only the first step. Sometimes people don't hear or are not told the most important part, which is replacing the negative with the positive. How you do this is very personal. Some people use a mantra, some just repeat a saying in their head that isn't so "mantra-like," and others use visual images. You have to decide. As Catrin said, when you are riding, it is easier to focus on the visual spectacle of the environment. We really do see things on a bike that we miss otherwise. Same for hiking, or even walking.
    Research shows that you can decrease anxiety/repetitive negative thoughts by using what's called 4-6 breathing 10X a day for one minute. This means inhaling for 4 breaths and exhaling for 6 breaths, slowly. The key is to always have the exhale be longer than the inhale. You can actually see changes in the frontal area of the brain on an f-MRI (forgive me, I forget which specific part) after a person has been practicing this for 4-6 weeks. Of course, it takes a commitment to do this, but it really works to bring down your overall level of anxiety and hypervigilance.
    And, from my personal experience, mixing up activities is always best. It keeps us from physically over using the same muscles and joints, but also gives our brain the variety it craves.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    737
    Hi Catrin! Thanks for the understanding. It's hard to describe the thoughts to other people, it's always nice to talk to someone that gets it. The good news is that even though I know I'm slower, I've come back from each ride in a great mood, proud of myself for getting out there. I may go tonight and then hike tomorrow. I definitely like the idea of mixing things up and not getting into a routine. Even with climbing I got burned out after a while (but man, was I strong!). I think the other thing I'm struggling with is how quickly this all happened. Last year at this time I was 30 lbs lighter and still had muscle. The mix of depression and meds packed on the weight and kept me from wanting to even get off the couch. I have a fairly good mix of meds now that allow me to get out and do things, but I'm not sleeping, so I'm also super tired. I may go and bike tonight, but that means I'll be asleep by 8. It's a trade-off, but I know each time I go out is a step towards improving my life and well-being.

    Crankin, my psychiatrist is always pushing breathing techniques to me. When I was first diagnosed, everyone told me to do yoga, that it would calm me. Instead, I spent the whole time waiting for class to be over and generally not enjoying it. Still, I tried it. I think my mind races too much to really get into those quieting techniques. Maybe with more practice it would help, but I feel like I'm too high energy for that stuff. Next week I'm going to try cardio boxing! Tomorrow I'll hike. Variety will be my friend. I'm just grateful to even want to do this stuff, it's a far cry from where I was a few months ago.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,141
    No, No, not everything works for everyone. That's why you have to try everything. The exercise is a #1 mood stabilizer, but what I am telling you isn't just what I "prescribe," it's based on personal experience. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a type A person. But now, I'm a calmer type A person, and the reason is that I experienced the same thing that you are dealing with, aftr I had been riding about 6-7 years, probably at my peak. I really suddenly lost all of my endurance from a combination of some undetermined immunological disease process that comes out under stress, retiring, and resultant anxiety about all of it. I was thinking almost exactly what you said in your above post. I kept going to yoga, and I found teachers who were both mind and body focused, so I actually felt like I was exercising. It calmed me and I gained a lot of flexibility and balance, something missing when you just ride. Then, I signed up for a Mindfulness Stress Reduction class. It was 8 weeks, and I was not a good student, in that I felt agitated during the class (we had to be silent for one whole Saturday session. I cheated and called my son), but I did go home and do the homework. When the class was over, I kept doing the shorter meditations and visualizations. I still do, but not all of the time. I also went to acupuncture and had some deep tissue massage/PT.
    I am not sure what really worked, because I was doing so many modalities at once. But after about 4-5 months, I felt better (I did take some meds for a short time), I was able to make the decision to go back to school the next fall. It was cycling season again by the time I started feeling better, and this was the summer I did all kinds of slower, shorter rides. I also found that during that winter, x country skiing didn't bother me at all, and I felt better after heavy exertion, unlike cycling. I never got quite back to where I was in speed, but I am very close. And, I am 8 years older now, and I'd say, I'm pretty good for my age, and the kind of riding I do. The goal is to keep riding until I keel over, and not beat myself up about some arbitrary number.
    I am betting you might like something that is more movement oriented, like Thai Chi or Qu'i Gong. While these help calm the brain, they are active and a good complement to endurance sports.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    86
    I have not been that much of a fitness oriented person but about 5-6 years ago, I took some weight off and exercise was a big part of that. And here's the "secret" I learned. It was a secret to me because I thought all physically fit people just did their sports and stayed at some sort of magical high level of fitness at all times. But the truth is that life interrupts us. Kids need us. Our parents get sick. We get overwhelmed at work and exercise just doesn't happen. And you start over. Well, not over as in "learning to ride the bike all over" but in terms of endurance, etc, we start over. I _really_ learned this with swimming because even being out of the water for a couple of weeks causes you to loose ground. So I really agree with lph, pick new routes, new ways of doing things. When I get back in the water, I concentrate on a slow even stroke, no speed about it. Just getting back into it, getting your arms moving again. I might spend more time noticing the water and how good it really feels on my body. That's remembering what I like about swimming. And remember, there always is a first spring ride when the bike feels new again, and you don't really have your breathe yet, and you might remember ruefully that doing 20 miles was a snap last summer but somehow 10 or 12 or 15 feels like "enough". And here's my motto. Never ride so far that you are in danger of getting off the bike (or the run, or the swim) and saying, "I _never_ want to do that again!" Practice bicycle "mindfulness". Notice what there is to see. Ignore the bike. Ignore the speedometer. Smell the flowers, listen to the frogs, talk to the horses and cows you pass. I also like my bike and I am genuinely thankful that I have my beautiful bikes that have let me do so many adventures. Set a goal, for example find yourself a nice 25 mile charity ride and work towards being able to participate in that. I rode yesterday and while I was not grateful for the wind (however, this is KS) we've had so much rain of late that I heard lots of frogs singing. The ride I took 2 weeks ago, I saw 4 snakes two of which were not dead. And I'm working on learning more about birds. So think of other things to think about rather than your distance and speed. You know yourself the best. I like wearing my heart monitor because I can see that I am stronger within weeks when I wear it.
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5 WSD

    2011 Trek FX7.2--What can I say? It was on sale!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    NoNo, funny thing is this thread caused me to say yes when a friend out of the blue asked me if I wanted to come climbing a few days ago. I almost said no, figuring it just wasn't worth the hassle, but then I thought I'd try my own advice. So we went out on some easy slabs. I deliberately didn't check the grade (difficulty rating), I just tied in and climbed and tried to notice details and enjoy it.
    Mostly I noticed how much my feet hurt... ;-) So yesterday I went and bought new shoes!
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,141
    Molly, I might never ride again, if never said "I never want to do that again," after a ride... seriously, I usually always think that after a challenging ride, but it's followed by a feeling of being proud of my accomplishment. I just read an article that endurance athletes have a particular kind of amnesia about suffering, that allows them to go back and do the same thing over and over, despite the suffering quotient.
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    737
    Woo hoo! Way to attack that crag! Seriously, that makes me excited, and kind of wanting to climb now, lol. I hear you about enjoying the moment. I think I got too wrapped up in the numbers when I used to ride. I may have to drive to places and unload the bike to see new areas. Thankfully, I live on the shore, so there's plenty of scenery to get lost in!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    86
    Crankin there are two forms of "I never want to do that again", I think. There is the form you experience when your body is not prepared but you do some form of exercise and you spend days recovering from it and the thought of doing it again causes revulsion. That's the one I seek to avoid. Then there is the "cannot wait to get off of this bike feeling" I had when I came home against the wind (bad planning) for a 42 mile ride, the longest I have done in a while. And yes, that one is all about bragging rights, knowing you pushed yourself a little or a lot and that you can keep "going further".

    I remember vividly thinking during labor with my son, "How could I have been talked in to doing this?" and then hours later, looking at him bundled up in his crib thinking, "I can't wait to do that again!" and just laughing at myself because of the 180 degree turn in thinking.
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5 WSD

    2011 Trek FX7.2--What can I say? It was on sale!

 

 

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