Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spinning Towards New Goals


I am a fickle cyclist. I love long bike rides in theory - the wind in my hair (or over my helmet), the country side slipping by as I cover miles of East Texas, the feeling of my legs pumping and my heart rate rising, the smell of the earth and the sun and my sweat.

But I also hate cycling. The big pick up trucks that nearly run me off the highway. The gravel covered shoulders that I'm forced to ride on. The 100 degree heat and unbearable humidity that cloaks East Texas six months out of every year. The fact that cycling is the hardest thing to fit into my schedule, made more difficult by a 40 hour work week, unpredictable weather patterns and limited daylight. Enter: spin class.

source.

Back when I was training for the century ride that never was, I went to spin class at the college rec center once or twice a week. It was a great way to squeeze in ride after work (the only time I sweat more in 60 minutes is during Bikram yoga) and being in charge of my own resistance let me push myself without fear of falling behind a pack of more experienced cyclists (a common occurrence on group rides. I am a slow cyclist).

And then I burnt out, decided not to do the century and broke up with my bike for about ten months. I got a scooter and rode that to work instead. Marathon training kicked into high gear and turned to yoga for cross training and relief. Those hours I spent on the back of a bike each weekend faded to a slightly chafed memory.

Over the last few weeks, my bike and I have rekindled our romance. I've been on a few rides with the local bike shop but it's depressing - in my off time, I've lost so much strength and stamina. So last night, I found myself back at the spin class that kicked my ass last summer, ready to pedal my little heart out. And pedal I did! It ended up being a great workout - my heart rate was through the roof and by the end of class, a puddle of sweat had literally pooled beneath my bike. Which is awesome, except for the fact that the other women in the class - all of them young college students - barely broke a sweat. Either I was pushing it way harder than they were, or my age is finally catching up to me.


My fitness plan right now involves running three times a week, yoga three times a week, strength training two times a week and spin class once a week. Once I get stronger, I'll probably suck it up and start riding the roads again - I'll play that by ear. This might seem like a lot of exercise, but it's not (for me, anyway), especially since I'm running shorter distances right now and strength training is mostly an excuse to go to the rec center during my lunch break and gossip with my friend Sonnie. I have two races coming up (a 5K and a five mile race) and then it will be summer in East Texas and my main goal for those hot, humid months is to stay active without melting or collapsing from heat stroke. I also want to strength train consistently so that I will be stronger (and thus faster!) when my next season of marathon training begins. I haven't picked out a 2012 marathon yet so I don't know when that will be. What I do know is that I plan to be ready!

And that concludes your latest tour of my training and fitness goals. In a nutshell: stay active, get stronger, be consistent and have fun. Sounds like an excellent summer to me!

16 comments:

  1. I really need to get over being intimidated by the cycling class regulars and give it a try. The weather here has been so terrible I haven't biked in nearly two weeks and miss it terribly. Not to mention any progress with those muscles feels stale...

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  2. Hot damn. I've been mentioned. :)

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  3. congrats at getting back on the bike! :) it's hard to pick something back up that you've stopped for a while. and i love a good spin class! my sister teaches them and whenever i attend one of her classes i sit in the front and glare at her the whole time as i'm dying.

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  4. i wouldn't feel bad about sweating it out. i never sweated at spin, but as i got into better shape, i actually started sweating more. go figure!

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  5. Your exercise plans are equally inspiring and a much needed kick up the pants for me to commit to some exercise of my own!

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  6. I used to LOVE spinning, but I no longer belong to a gym. There's a studio near us (and even closer to our new place) called Up Dog that does just spinning and yoga. It's a bit pricey but I dream of one day taking classes there! Yay for spinning!

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  7. Wow, this motivates me to get in the gym tomorrow!

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  8. I'm a big fan of spinning--the team camraderie, the intense intervals, and the super feeling when it's over!

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  9. I'm happy to hear about your new romance with biking/spinning. I feel sad for you that in the past, it's made you so miserable that you quit. My bike rides are usually the best parts of my day! Then again, even though we both bike, run, and do yoga, I think I tend more toward the bike+yoga combination, and you like run+yoga. Or maybe I'm just lazier than you ;-) At any rate, happy pedaling and let us know how things go with your fitness endeavors!

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  10. One thing I like about spin class is that everyone is in charge of their own resistance. So you never now exactly how tough everyone else is! (And no one can tell how tough you aren't!)

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  11. Ha! I may have been glaring, and I may have had sweat in my eyes. No one will ever know!

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  12. I never sweated until I moved to Texas and started working out regularly! Maybe you're right, and lots of sweat is a sign of good health. I will tell myself that from now on!

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  13. Up Dog sounds like my kind of place!

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  14. Yes, I also like the part where it's over. :)

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  15. I really enjoy biking for transportation. I've been commuting on my bike again and leisurely rides with a destination are very nice indeed. Last summer we were training and we would ride up to 50 miles on the weekend - it would take us over six hours and sucked up all my time. That was about when I had my bike burn out. On the bright side, it made marathon training seem like a piece of cake - my longest runs never took more than three hours. Such a short amount of time in comparison!

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