I was so excited about Saturday morning’s class… Certain that under the watchful eye of a certain celebrity trainer, I’d fly into the 300 club in 45 minutes. I’d felt super-powerful on my Friday group ride outside. I’d eaten well and was heading to bed early when I checked my e-mail and found this:

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So, my goal of hitting 300 in under 45 minutes gone before I even got there.

It was a sold-out session, and the instructor did the classy thing of giving up her bike so someone could come in from the waiting list. This also meant that she wasn’t tethered to the bike. Pros: she could physically correct your form, like a good yoga teacher. Cons: she could turn up your Torq when you weren’t where she wanted you to be. I was in the front row. Both things happened to me. Happy to get some hands-on help. Not happy to have my resistance set for me.

When I first started riding and taking cycling classes, I was big on having lots of resistance. In class, we’d always hear, “turn it up,” and I would if I could, frequently at the expense of staying on the rhythm. One day, I was out on San Vicente, heading east, which is a slight uphill, and a real cyclist passed me, noting that it would be easier if I were in a lower gear. I’m not sure what I replied, but he said, “you take spin classes, don’t you?” and he was off with the rest of his peleton.

When I started training for the Solvang Century with Happy Hour, I remember someone (I think my trainer’s husband) saying, “if you’re not going 20 mph or faster, you shouldn’t be in the big ring.” I stopped trying to get into the highest gear, and when I got my Garmin 510 I started focusing more on cadence. I don’t know if it’s made me a better rider, but I do know I complain a lot less to my chiropractor Dr. Staci about back pain.

Over the three weeks of the Holiday Express Challenge, I’ve realized that I can generally hit the high end of the Torq numbers and keep the rhythm the instructor sets. Not today. Worse, I couldn’t come close to keeping pace at the 40+ Torq. All the exhortations and expletives in the dictionary couldn’t make me stronger and faster than I am. And pushing my limits in some directions (more resistance) will actually set me back (back injury).

I’ve read it before on some of the endurance training websites, but “run your race” really hit home for me today. Striving for a mark beyond my capacity only diminished my ability to keep up later. I’ve heard, “what are you holding back for?” Well, when it’s the warm up? I’m holding back so I have something for the next 55 minutes. Ask me that question again in the last five minutes of class, and I won’t hold back.

So, not my finest hour of indoor cycling. Perhaps I’d see more improvement if I listened more to the people who are trying to push me forward and less to my inner voice urging restraint. Or perhaps I’d see more injury and fatigue. I’ll post all my stats tomorrow and let you be the judge.

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