Week 9: The Mental and Spiritual Benefits of Training

August 2, 2016/ Maria Parker

This is week nine of a twelve week series to help you train for and successfully complete a century ride. Check out the free 12 Week Couch to Century training plan here.

We all know exercise is good for us and we should do it more. We also know spinach is good for us and we should eat it more. I honestly didn’t start eating more spinach until I discovered creamed spinach and spinach dip (spinach mixed with sour cream). The point is, you have to figure out what makes exercise delicious.

One of the ways I make exercise delicious is to notice and focus on the ways exercise makes me feel when I am not exercising. I won’t list the obvious ways exercise is good for you, the mainstream media has done a great job with that. I want to enumerate the ways exercise benefits me mentally and spiritually.

Mental and Spiritual Benefits:

  • Exercise makes me more alert and productive. For three hours after I exercise, I am clear thinking and motivated. This is such a noticeable benefit of exercise that lately I’ve started to go directly to my computer after exercise (do not take a shower, do not collect a breakfast) and jump into the most challenging project I have. This has reaped great rewards in terms of getting hard things done. 
  • Exercise makes me sleep better. As a menopausal woman, good, deep sleep is a rare treat. When I exercise, particularly long or hard, I fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply.
  • Exercise makes me happy, just ask my husband. Early in our marriage when I was cranky or irritable, my husband would kindly (and sometimes not so kindly) suggest I go out for a run. He knew that when I got back I would be calm, happy and ready to deal with whatever had set me off before the run.
  • Discipline begets discipline. No one demonstrates this more than my son Steven. He is married, with a child and one on the way. When we talk, I always ask him how his workouts are going. The reason I ask him is that I know if he is working out, then everything else in his life is going well. By his own admission, when he works out he is a better husband, father and employee and, in general, feels much better about himself.
  • Exercise gives you more hours in the day. Exercise can be the first thing to go when life gets hectic. I have found from long, painful experience that things are a lot easier on days when I exercise. There is some kind of magic going on here that I don’t really understand. When I exercise I seem to have more time to do everything else. Invest an hour in exercise and get back 2 hours – don’t ask me how it works, it just does. Try and see for yourself.

Next up in this series: The Midway Blues

Congratulations on taking on your first Century ride! Maria Parker, world record-holding cyclist and Cruzbike CEO, put together this 12 week training guide and blog series to help you successfully complete your first century ride. Share your progress with the Cruzbike Community @CRUZBIKE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll cheer you on through your first 100 mile ride.

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