JB and I are training for the Philadelphia Marathon this November, which happens to be on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The ultimate pre-turkey dinner workout, I say. We will run super-fast and then indulge in pie. I like turkey and all that, but I live for pie. As we are not yet officially into our 14-week training program yet, we are currently working on the super-fast part of that equation. Here’s what I’m doing: I’m learning to FLY!
I’ve taken Spinning® classes on and off since I was first introduced to them in college. Back in my day, it was all Johnny G Spinning® instructors and bikes in teeny rooms with those tapes that we (group fitness intstructors) bought from companies that put the beats per-minute range on them and the songs were mash-ups set to trance beats. You know what I’m talking about, Cam. Oh, back in the day! Well, Johnny G Spinning® has evolved and branches of indoor cycling studios have popped up on the coasts (look out, Chicago, you’re next!) to much fanfare. I’ve been to many classes at almost all of the major NYC gyms and to both the newbie indoor cycling studios, but I’ve honestly found my home at Flywheel.
First, the reason why I have incorporated cycling (can’t call it “spinning” unless it’s Johnny G Spinning®) into my running training: I’m trying to get faster without getting hurt. It’s as simple as that. I’m
still a spring chicken not getting any younger and as I amp up my workouts to push my limits, I want to achieve new levels of fitness without having to add on tons of miles. I know this is possible for two reasons: 1. I’ve see the progress already and 2. I am studying the “why” of the progress in school. In order for me to get faster, I have to train at a higher intensity. I have to push harder and teach my body to process oxygen faster, increase my VO2 max and my lactic threshold. I achieve this by doing anaerobic sprints and pushing past my physical and physiological limits in my workouts. But, I don’t want to kill my legs and hips all the time with running, so I need a different type of cardiovascular interval training: hello, Flywheel!
Flywheel is my kinda studio. I’m looking for a kick-ass class with challenging intervals that include sprints, hills and seated climbs. Honestly, I’ve studied and trained too much in the field to be fooled by “new moves” and “total body workouts” on bikes that are advertised elsewhere. It’s just not for me and personally, I cringe when I see instructors letting their form go to hell and ruining their knees while asking the class to mimic their form. Yikes. I’m into the loud music, the group ride, the focused intention and attention to detail where form is concerned. You can have an awesome vibe about you, but if you can’t talk to me about form or demonstrate good form yourself, you’ve lost me. That’s why I love the instructors at Flywheel.
The other cool thing at Flywheel is that every bike is hooked up to a computer that shows you your rpm, your resistance level and what they call your “power”. This all helps the instructor better guide the class through the workout they intend to give that day by offering ranges of speeds and resistances and makes it a whole lot easier for the rider to know where he/she should be during that interval (or rest period). The “power” component is something you can choose to have put up on the Torque Board in the front of the room to see where your effort stacks up against those of the rest of the class. This is an optional feature that you can opt-out of at any time.
My instructor on Friday at the Upper East Side location was Aleah and she was awesome! First of all, I think she must’ve stolen my iPod because she had my most favorite songs playing the entire time. Second, her focus on us as a class and the intervals is exactly what I look for in an instructor and this is the second (of many, I’m sure) class I’ve been to of hers where I experience a truly intense workout. Third, her parents were there, which is just, well, the coolest. Also, I really liked that Aleah kept the Torque Board off most of the time so that we weren’t distracted by our number, but flipped it on at key times so we could check in.
When you are looking for something to supplement your running, please consider jumping on a bike of any kind and putting the same amount of time and effort into your ride that you would have put into your run. Do those intervals, power up the hills, take that new indoor cycling class you heard about from your friend.
Beware of two things in a class: bad form and bad instructors. You can control your form: knees don’t bow or knock in when you peddle and are always slightly bent, arms slightly bent, back straight and belly button pulled up toward your spine. You can control which instructor you choose: one who offers options and alternatives to whatever they are doing to cater to everyone in the class, one who isn’t there for his/her own workout, one who helps you set up your bike if you need it, one who will answer questions after class.
I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far I’ve seen about a 20-25 second (per mile) improvement in my tempo runs and I’m thrilled to be under the 8 minute/per mile marker for 10+ miles. It’s a great feeling, especially since my digestive system hasn’t been cooperating all that well lately. Drugs are a good thing, I tell you! Hopefully, the combination of these awesome new workouts like Flywheel, some serious pace work with JB and his running club and 3 different drugs will equal a super-fast marathon time this Fall. Hey, it’s worth a shot. If not now, when–right?!
Have you given cycling a shot? What was your experience? Are you cycling today? No? Well…
Go out and run!
Check out Flywheel Sports: http://new-york.flywheelsports.com/ and I was totally NOT compensated for this post in any shape or form. I pay for my own classes 🙂