I love a little bit of suffering and toil with my workouts. That’s why spin has always been a fav, even before I got on a road bike. The burn in my legs, the ragged rasp of my breath, my sweat splas
hing from the handlebar as I spin harder and harder all give me a sense of masochistic joy. I love riding for its simplicity and pureness, I love spin for the torture and suffer. I am sure at times in class it actually appears as if I am punishing myself, doling out pain as some sort of penance. And to some exact its true. I regret the damage I have done to my body over the years, my lack of activity at times, unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices as well. I am in some part trying to redeem myself. I am trying my hardest to not fail my body, hoping it will repay the favor as I age.
Enter my own personal sufferfests. A friend recently introduced my to the art of the trainer and the exquisite experience of Sufferlandria, a collection of training videos that make me”bust my ass today to kick yours tomorrow” (IWBMATTKYT, as they put it). Essentially its a sadistic video that berates your efforts as you push beyond your limits for sometimes a very extended time period. For most, this would be hell-ish. For me its heaven. There is nothing more rewarding to me than stepping off my bike, legs shaking, shirt and hair drenched in sweat, as I gasp for breath.
It’s funny because this intensity is not present in other aspects of my life. I was a mediocre skier who switched gear at age 14 and became a mediocre snowboarder. Running is a constant lesson in futility to me, and while I truly enjoy climbing (both rock and ice) I have never pushed myself on it or ventured out of my comfort zone. But when I ride, there is some hidden side of me that comes out and urges me on, tells me to be faster stronger better. I am still undecided whether this entity is an angel or a devil. But when I get to the point where my breaths have become labored and heavy and my legs feel like lead, my mind clears and a fog is lifted and in that moment of pure euphoric hypoxic fatigue, I am ecstatic. As I build to this point, pushing up my cadence, I always flash to one of my favorite songs to spin to, “Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes. The strong steady beat of the drum fits perfectly with a grueling spin, and I always sing to myself the lines “I’m going to Wichita, Far from this opera forevermore, I’m gonna work the straw, Make the sweat drip out of every pore” and it brings a smile (sometimes more of a grimace) to my face and I push on to my moment of bliss.
This year marks the beginning of something I have never done before: actual training. While I have always tried to maintain some level of fitness (living in rural Colorado makes this an easy task), I have never put a goal to my workouts before. My goals for the year are tough but I feel attainable: win a cross race by true win, not default, ride full Axel Project Bicycle Classic route (80 miles) and complete 50 mile loop on Gran Fondo Hincapie.
For the winter, my training will be a mix of indoor trainer sessions (lots of Sufferlandria visits included) paired with core work and high intensity intervals to build cardio and muscle strength for cross season. Whenever the sun is shining and roads will allow, I will add in outdoor endurance rides and some lactic acid threshold intervals. Running is probably the next step, and although I know I will never love it, I know it will help me become a better and stronger cyclist. Pilates or yoga will probably maneuver somewhere in these plans, depending on time available and budget. Its going to be a sweaty pain filled winter and I am so excited!
For those who want to join me, along with the Sufferlandria videos, I follow the Carmichael Training Systems blogs for most of my regimens, and love their programs! If you are local to my area, I hugely encourage you to join Ridgway Spin, I love their instructors and have seen huge improvements since I started there 2 years ago!