it doesn't usually happen within the first five minutes, and not even within the first ten or so. it happens a little further into it, when you "hit your stride" or otherwise start clicking along, and you suddenly realize that you are engaged, engrossed, at one with the activity.
and then this mysterious process kicks in, this process that removes your concerns, your worries, your frustrations, your desire to control uncontrollable outcomes. it picks them off, one by one, and drops them along the way, lightening your very being.
it's possible that this mysterious process involves the shortage of oxygen available to fuel your thinking/worrying/complaining brain, but I like to think it's a bit deeper than that. I like to think that it's simply--and significantly--your true self that is allowed to come forward when you're removed from the cocoon of work/family/home/have-to's and you are focused only upon the very moment you are living. and I believe this happens easiest and best when you're exercising outdoors, in the real and natural world.
I was wogging today (I'm up to 1.5 miles without stopping: only 24.7 more and I'm ready for a marathon!) when I realized I was so caught up in the clear, cold air, the melting snow dripping from trees, the blue sky peeking through the cloud pillows, and the beauty of the snow-covered mountains in the distance that I couldn't even bring a worry to the forefront of my mind. a concern danced through but it couldn't take hold: my mind refused to let it. another tried, then another, and they all were forced to concede defeat because I was too engrossed in the physical activity in which I was engaged. there was not a speck of room for all that other superfluous crud that always tries to hold me hostage.
and this is why I love cycling, and what I'm learning to love about my almost-running. these both take me away from everything that tries to pin me down, stress me, convince me I am wrong or inferior or neglectful. those little negativities just can't cling to me when I'm in motion.
whether it's 5 mph cycling up a canyon, 40 mph flying down a hill, or 6 mph (my top speed!) jogging around the block, it's movement that repels concerns and grief. it's mental health work.
it's a good thing.