I’m all about the numbers: time, distance, pace, heart rate, weight, etc. That’s why I fell in love with my Garmin watch. It’s also why I hop on my scale daily (even before sipping my coffee). And I’ve been known to run past my house for as long as I need to just to round out the mileage — as if 11 miles is any different from 10.97 miles. I’m obsessed.
Once again, I found myself straddling a spin cycle, struggling to get the fit right, and feeling a little déjà vu. After taking a stab at the settings, noting it just didn’t feel right, I sucked up my pride and called the instructor over for some help. A little embarrassed, I tell the ladies around me that I am a runner trying to spin. But this kind man corrects me and says, “No, Julie; You are a cyclist.”
To appease the number-hungry side of me I found comfort in bringing my Garmin along with me. Well, I tried to find comfort. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get the machinery to talk with my watch and, therefore, had to alternate which one held my focus. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is. When changing up sports, 110% of my focus is needed for the activity itself. The numbers should really wait ’till the end. Right?
Well, according to this instructor, my approach isn’t the best. He gives his directions in numbers. Specifically, he serves up his workout with a plentiful helping of hills, target HR percentages, and a brilliant mix of music. Oh, he also flashes you a beautiful smile if you need it — which, let’s face it, I DO.
This guy’s got quite the following and, I have to say, I can’t blame them. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ve seriously got the hots for him. Anyway…all of his followers seem to know exactly what he’s talking about — even if a few of them are delinquent in wearing a HR monitor. To me, he might as well be schooling me in numerology. I’ve purposely avoided looking at my HR during training. It’s too frustrating. The numbers are always higher than they should be and make me feel as if I should back off when I really should be picking it up.
This HR issue goes for all sports and was the reason why I couldn’t continue running through my pregnancies. My OB was not happy when I told her that it’s impossible for me to so much as walk up the stairs and keep my HR < 150 bpm. I've learned to deal with it by taking on a ignorance-is-bliss approach. Don't worry; although the HR remains high, it's been checked out. My ECG and ECHO results are not without observations but they are "within normal limits." This spin instructor doesn't stop with HR percentages. He's all about cadence too. Yes, this guy is as obsessed with numbers as I am. Can you see why I love him? Early on in the class he calls out for us to turn up the resistance, get out of the saddle, but keep our cadence in some number range. This would be the number range that my legs don't seem to want to fall into in any position on the bike (except fully upright with my arms pumping as if I was running). Distance running, so my legs claim, does not call for this quick turnover. Dare I tell them that I'm changing it up? I glance over at the display on the cycle beside me and try not to gasp in horror at the contrasting numbers. This young lady's HR is 136 bpm and she's holding steady just slightly below the given cadence. I look over at my HR which is rapidly approaching 170 bpm, then to the cadence which has fallen even lower than before. At this point, we are instructed to get back in our saddles. I breath a sign of relief. Then, the instructor tells us to hold the resistance where it's out. Ugh! My glutes cry out in protest, "Kettlebell swings, Julie. Why did you do kettlebell swings if you knew you were coming here?”
By about 30 minutes or so into the class my body has finally warmed up. Same as when I’m running, it takes about 3-4 miles for my body to settle in. My HR is still 160-175 bpm but my breathing is easy and I feel as if I could hang out here forever. Well, except for the muscle pain but even that feels kind of natural. I know how to continue on in the face of pain. Even better, I can actually hit the cadence now — even though it is now 100-110 rpm. Much the same as when you can feel the finish line hype from a mile or two away. It pulls you in and your body finally agrees to comply as long as you promise to rest afterwards.
As I turn it up and enjoy the feeling of sweat running down my back and that glorious burning that affirms that you are bad-ass, I wonder if I’ll need a piggyback ride to YaYa’s game. I push that thought away, and return my focus to the task at hand. By this point, I’m proud of those numbers. It’s a whole lot better than wanting to hide them in embarrassment.
And I smile thinking maybe I too could call myself a cyclist — maybe.