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.


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!