The body isn’t the only thing we need to feed to have a meaningful and happy life. Give your mind some nutrition with these intellectual supplements.
One of the things I enjoy most about exercising is how it affects the non-physical aspects of my life. I’m talking about the metaphors. Ask anyone who consistently pursues a particular physical discipline why they do it and the passionate answer will include a non-physical component. They will talk about how that particular exercise has improved several facets of their life. Throughout my time as a recreational cyclist I have found a surprising number of cycling metaphors that inspire me off the bike. Here are three cycling tenets that have helped me improve both on and off the bike.
“Your front tire will go where you look.”
This is one of the first lessons I learned on a mountain bike. There is a natural tendency to point the bike where you are looking. The key is to find the clear path; if you look at the rocks, you will hit them. This is easily distilled into a tenet found in every best-selling self-help book: focus on the positive. Simple enough, but when I view this in terms of mountain biking (I’m thinking of the Amasa Back trail in Moab, UT) the lesson stays with me much longer than any of those books I’ve read.
“Just keep pedaling, you will get there eventually.”
Here’s another early lesson. Persistence is key in reaching goals, it will always get difficult, and the bumps in the road are part of the journey. This one really resonated with me when I was up against a deadline for my Master’s thesis. I wasn’t sure if I would finish in time and my thesis committee was sure I couldn’t. However, I stayed focused and just kept writing, met my deadlines, and received my degree.
“You can go farther than you think.”
This one is related to the previous lesson and reminds me of the mental component to physical exercise. One of the most amazing things about humans is our ability to exceed our expectations. The first time I went for a 100 mile excursion on a mountain bike, I didn’t know if I could do it. I set out hoping I could, had plenty of doubts along the way, and ended up with one of my favorite accomplishments: riding White Rim trail in Moab, UT in a single day. This one comes to mind when life throws those obstacles that seem beyond my capabilities.
Generally speaking, a lot has been said about finding our passion in exercise and I agree. My passion for cycling has carried the sport beyond the physical realm for me. The metaphors resonate with me because they are linked to real experiences, often specific trails, and they serve as a foundation of inspiration as I meet new challenges in my life. What are some of the exercise metaphors you have used in other aspects of your life?