Mental Health - Quality of life and training

Hi all!

I just signed up again after a 2 year break and getting back into the swing of things so I’m doing my usual hyperfocusing and surrounding myself with info.

I enjoy listening to the podcast even when I took a break from riding/training. I especially enjoy when the podcast shines some light towards the mental side of things. I often find myself wanting more content from a mental health perspective, but I know this isn’t the focus of the podcast.
I work in mental health mostly doing individual therapy so most of my day is through a mental health lens. There are so many things that are said throughout the podcasts that resonate so well with quality of life and mental health practices. Not comparing oneself with others, consistency, sleep, nutrition, routines, comfort, managing stress, ADHD has been sprinkled in there and most recent few podcasts eating disorders.

Please don’t take this post/thread as professional advice or a replacement for individual therapy, but it’d be nice to hear how others use skills/tools/thoughts from training to manage/improve their daily headspace or even vice versa.

To share a few:

At times, I discuss and assign various ways to sort through one’s thoughts, and this post is putting myself through the same advice/homework. Put all the thoughts down on paper. Mostly from my training ride or listening to the podcasts so I can stay focused with what I’m doing and not worrying or carrying these thoughts while on the bike or while I’m going about my day. Plus, one less worry is I don’t lose these thoughts, and I can refer back to this and maybe dig further down the rabbit hole.

Mindfulness or staying present while training has made running or the bike more enjoyable which also has helped with consistency. Embracing the suck, knowing that the uncomfortableness is going to be there, and accepting that it is part of what I’m doing rather than working to fight the miserableness i.e. ignoring, avoiding or hating those moments in life.

Last one which motivated me to write this up is eating. Orthorexia comes to mind for me. I eat relatively healthy, and my behaviors around eating can be perceived as unreasonable or reducing the quality of life. Not eating out with co-workers or friends. Being a picky eater. weighing food. Some body image/composition stuff mixed in here. Intentionally leaving out the reasons/details. Without context or understanding of lifestyle and who I am, it can be easy to see these as “issues” but “don’t turn a non-issue into an issue.”

Thank you Trainerroad crew, podcast, and forums.


The most significant for me is also the most basic; just the added serotonin and other hormones from workouts. Also it lends a sense of accomplishment (though, that can cut both ways if I skip or fail a workout).

Also, being used to pain and discomfort helps occasionally (like this morning at the dentist).

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I don’t think I ever intended that biking and training would give me explicit mind tools to improve the rest of my well being, but all i know is that is does.

On a Sunday, if I ride solo for (typically) 4 hours, like clock work the thoughts in my mind will just naturally change over the course of the ride:
Hour 1 - “4 hours is a long time, maybe I’ll shorten the ride”
Hour 2 - Getting angry and negative with my work/life etc etc
Hour 3 - This is how I sort my work/life problems
Hour 4 - Looking forward to getting home and a hot shower

Fortunately my family know I mentally need this level of physical activity and I do too, so it just becomes part of routine. And nothing like a turbo session for plain simple realising the passage of time. During that 1hr, time ticks on, so I can either pedal or I can slob out on the sofa. Which one will make me feel better? And then in life, I know time passes and helps me stay calm for unpleasant but transient experiences.


The mental health benefits of exercise are huge. There is apparently a huge problem with suicide in middle aged men and i can really see how this can be a thing: you’ve been married for 20 years and neither you nor your wife are are sexy and fun as you once were, you have been doing the same job for 20 years and you’re bored sh1tless with it, your kids are older and don’t come to dad for hugs anymore, just for money. You rarely see your old friends and getting wasted like a 20 year old is a distant memory. Every day is the same, year in, year out and you are getting older, slower, balder, fatter, closer to the inevitable decay and death…

But then you take up running and you see that actually it is possible to run a whole mile or 2 or 5 or 10 and enjoy it. Then you get a bike and realise that you don’t have to push it up every hill and you do more and more and get faster and fitter and you seek out the biggest hills and race up them. Then before you know it you as fit as you were when you were 20, you are happy again, life is fun, life is still awesome.

It’s a shame that the default response to people’s mental problems is always “Here take these pills” rather than “Go for a run…” or “Take up a new sport”.

It’s sunny outside, I have a couple of hours before my next meeting. I’m going to go for a run :+1: :grinning:


Have you considered becoming a motivational speaker? :rofl:

Only kidding.

In all seriousness, there are all sorts of mental health issues around racing and training, and it would be very cool for the podcast to get an expert on and have a ‘mental health’ episode.

The one bit of good advice I heard recently was actually from Grant Petersen, suggesting that if you planned all your long rides aiming to finish a little bit before you really wanted them to, you’d have a much better time than if you wanted them finished before they actually were. There’s obviously a balance here, and there’s a time for damn hard sessions that you do need to suffer through (if you want to get faster), but in general I think this pairs nicely with the polarised model, the idea of sustainability in training, and maintaining interest and enthusiasm.


‘You may have experienced a flow state at some point — that sense of fluidity between your body and mind, where you are totally absorbed by and deeply focused on something, beyond the point of distraction. Time feels like it has slowed down. Your senses are heightened. You are at one with the task at hand, as action and awareness sync to create an effortless momentum. In the zone.

I can experience the flow state for hours at a time outdoors. Whilst it can be experienced indoors, it’s rarer, and last for much shorter periods. There’s just something about the stimulus to the senses outdoors that just cannot be replicated indoors.

It sounds a bit hippy, but I can feel at one with my environment outdoors, in addition to being in the flow state. I feel refreshed, as though all pressures in my life have been eased. Even though you can be working hard, you are physiologically and mentally relaxed at the same time, free of stress.

Exercise in natural outdoor environments can significantly reduce stress because it encourages people to focus on the present moment, thus reducing rumination and worrying about the future. Additionally, being in nature increases a person’s exposure to natural light, which can help improve mood, clarity of thinking and energy levels. Finally, being in nature can increase self-esteem and concentration due to the physical challenge and sense of accomplishment that comes with it.


@RCC Love this reply :rofl: it resonates even though I’ve always biked and never forgotten my love/need for the outdoors. Early 40s would be inherently tough without this or some kind of similar outlet or passion. And for me that’s even with not being bald, decent job, having a good family life.

I’ve basically been a desk jockey for 40 years, and even though I’ve traveled for work it still involved a lot of SCREEN TIME. The current focus on SCREENS is not the most positive result of evolution, to put it mildly.

What improves my headspace is getting outside. Riding my bike outside. Spend 20+ hours cleaning up after the recent storm. Going for a walk with my wife after dinner. ANYTHING but staring at another screen.

Yeah, that would suck. Here is what I’ve done:

  • keep it fresh by talking like I’m sixty going on sixteen
  • change jobs when you can’t stand the thought of waking up
  • always be learning and mastering something new
  • get wasted every now and then, sometimes you need to mentally reboot and this has always worked for me
  • teach your kids the value of money by loaning it to them and requiring repayment
  • and praise genetics and dumb luck that my wife is hotter now than 20 years ago

A website I bookmarked 10 years ago:

:muscle: :+1:



Love threads like this and when mental health comes up on the podcast. I appreciate when they bring it up but it also sucks that I’m sure there is a threshold where people complain about it being too much. Really shouldn’t be the case as the mental side is so tied to performance on the bike. Half the podcast talking about mental health probably seems like too much for most but I’d be all aboard.

I feel like there are 2 sides to it…
Cycling/exercising can be a huge rush and help to mental health. Nothing turns around a day more than a hard climb (get those endorphins pumping) only to look around at the peak and be in awe of the view.

On the flip side, it’s easy to stress about getting up said climb fast enough, did I get a PR? Was that close to the KOM? What if someone sees me way far down on that KOM list? Any of those will easily kill the positive vibes you should be experiencing.

Training indoors is more of a struggle for me as you don’t get that second part of the experience…the view, being outside, amongst the trees in general. Those endorphins do help but I find it’s not the same as riding outdoors. Crappy TV/Zwift views just aren’t a great replacement.

Balancing the time cycling is another struggle. Had a hard time last night/this morning. Busy day of meetings then family stuff/chores meant I wasn’t on the bike until way too late. It was a hard workout so I didn’t get time to get the proper recovery hydration/nutrition in before bed so I woke up super cranky. Was the ride worth it? Maybe? But I know I would have felt guilty if I didn’t and honestly that’s probably not healthy. At the very least…I should have picked up a shorter/easier workout as a compromise. My competitive/always-improve mindset just won’t let me do that either. For background I’m not a competitive cyclist, I just do it to stay healthy, I enjoy it, and nothing helps my mental health more so it’s not like missing a workout is going to have a grave impact.

Not sure if all that’s helpful at all, mostly just babbling there but as I said I love threads like this so always feel as if I have to chime in on them. :slight_smile:

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Nice! I have heard my share of “help me to not have these negative thoughts” but some follow ups to possible solutions is “but that sounds like effort” or Hour 1 - “4 hours is a long time, maybe I’ll shorten the ride or Hour 0 - talking myself out of it - sofa
Also shoutout to family!

This one’s rough and like you said a common story. Going to walk by this rabbit hole and use training as a metaphor putting in the work day in day out can get mundane and feel like a chore.
starting at babysteps looking for something new within that everyday, boring - like seeing if you can feel the differences between various chamois creams during rides - “keep it fresh” as @WindWarrior said
revisiting training goals/intentions
even broader - assessing personal values or what give our lives/training meaning.

Your whole post.
appropriate idiom? - “Can’t see the forest for the trees.”


Your 1st paragraph was me right before posting this thread. 100% helpful! Thanks for jumping on the bandwagon. :smiley: I shouldn’t be doubting myself. just put the post out there rather than questioning “did I get a PR/KOM” or worrying about what others will say

This was written by Matthew Beaudin some years ago, and I forget where … but I clipped and saved it. It always resonated with me.

I ride to be my own companion, my own friend, my own enemy. I break down the walls in my head and heart that I spend all day building. Did I need to be defensive over that email? I remind myself to call my mother. How come I’m always a better person, in my head at least, when I’m riding?

I’m the best version of myself on a bike.

(Unless you jump on my wheel unannounced. Then all bets are off🤘)


Not sure what you mean by this , rather than use a metaphor that doesn’t seem appropriate, perhaps you can explain in plain words?

you got that right, if I cut back on riding, my wife starts begging me to go ride more! I’m the best version of myself 24x7 when I ride my bike and let go the stress of modern life.


“And into the woods I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

-John Muir
Father of the US National Park system


I could be wrong, but I think they were agreeing with you


For me the outside has always been a place of peace. Whether a run or ride… through the forest or just out in the hillside… it just feels right. It is hard to explain as it is best experienced. The views, scenery, sunsets, crazy things you see out on the trail just seem to make life better.

There are basics needs to live a healthy lifestyle: food, water, sleep & exercise. I think going outside is right in there too!


Not wrong. I was agreeing with the whole post. I was sort of typing out loud.

While I was reading your post, one direction my brain made me think about was “outdoors…exposure to natural light…forests and trees are outdoors and exposed to light” and then thought of that saying.
I might have thought of that saying because my understanding of the expression is someone is so caught up into the details of the issue that they forget to look at the bigger picture. Using a couple somewhat silly and simplistic examples with lots of holes and missing details. “I went for a walk outside yesterday but I’m still stressed.” “I started working out thinking it would help with depression, but now I’m buff and depressed.”

It does, but when in a flow state it can be said that you are focused on the details and not the big picture. You are looking at the light filtering through the trees, you are looking at that cloud rolling over the mountain like a waterfall, you are looking at the meandering river, or the curve in the road coming up. You are listening to the bird song. You are feeling the rain on your skin. Maybe you’re tuned into your breathing or feeling your heart beat or the strain in your legs. Time is slowed as you ride and you’re able to take in all these details for the longest moment. You are feeling alive in the moment.

Big pictures can be overwhelming , they can be the stressor. Flow state leaves that behind as you’re in a different state of consciousness

I’ve always been aware of the present. Not fearing the future or getting upset about something in the past. Just enjoying now. Whether that’s coffee in bed writing this or outside pulling weeds or even driving to work being present is key. I have my moments like everyone but, the goal is to let myself enjoy as many moments as possible.

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In line with what you’re saying, a therapist offered the following definitions. I found them helpful.

Anxiety = worrying about all the bad shit that might happen to you in the future
Depression = dwelling on all the bad shit that happened to you in the past