Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spinning Again

The view up a hill from my bike in Washington.

In "training" for Bike America, I went to a lot of spin classes. I thought they were made more fun by the knowledge that I'd soon be riding my bike up mountains, down mountains, across states, and so on. They changed the way that I rode my bike in a way, encouraging me to push myself and bike the same way I run.

After I got back, I was obsessed with not losing the fitness I'd developed on my epic ride but I avoided spin classes for some reason. I rode outdoors in the fall and I got my body back in the habit of running. I think I was afraid that developing a relationship with a spin bike would take away from the magic that biking was this summer. I knew it wouldn't be the same.

When I had an injured foot and couldn't run, I rode stationary bikes in the gym regularly because I didn't feel like planning around scheduled classes. Stationary bikes just aren't the same as spin bikes.

But when I wrote my marathon training plan, I knew that I wanted spinning to be a part of it for many reasons. For one, I don't want to put too much stress on my knees and wanted to find other ways of incorporating cardio. I have missed riding a bike this winter and would like to devote more time to outdoor cycling as the weather warms up and, especially, after my marathon. I also remember a post by one of my favorite running bloggers after the RNR Half Marathon in DC last year in which she noted that her friends who are the best at speedily running up hills are the ones who ride their bikes often. And I just like to keep it fresh and surprise my body with different workouts. I want to be a tarzan. I'll explain what I mean by that soon.

I have surprised myself in how strictly I've followed my training plan thus far. In my seven weeks of training, I've been to 6 spin classes and each one has left me feeling strong and powerful. Instead of taking away biking magic of this summer, they actually give me frequent flashbacks of fun, challenging and scenic moments. I am motivated by imagining that I'm climbing a hill that I actually climbed somewhere in America.

I won't lie- sometimes spinning is a chore. It isn't the same as riding outdoors. If the teacher doesn't reel you in and motivate you the right way, the exercises can drag on. But last night, I went to a spin class that changed my life. A girl named Liz was teaching it and she was the best teacher I've ever had. She was clear and organized about each workout. She delivered the perfect level of motivation and encouragement without ever screaming at us like a maniac (some of them do that, it doesn't work for me...) She made me want to get back on my bike and start riding to Anacortes, WA. Or anywhere.

At the end of the class, she revealed that she was subbing and that she typically teaches the 6AM class on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Whether or not she changed my life enough to get me to the gym that early is still to be determined. She did say, "getting out of bed is the hardest part- once you're here, it's great".

Whether under the instruction of Liz or another, far less awesome, teacher, one thing is certain: I will be returning to many spin classes between now and May 27th.

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