Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spinning Class for Runners

Here's a hint: Involves another word that begins with "S".

After a few years of kicking around, telling myself that it is too intense, that it "isn't exactly what I like", and putting together about four thousand other lame excuses to not do it, I finally signed up for a spinning class. Spinning class. I've been a runner for five years now (excluding having been a runner most of my life previously), but never thought spinning class was for runnersThis was a one-time, one-class sign up, mind you, but for me, it was a big step.

The whole experience started with the excitement of something new. Maybe it would be awesome and I would have something new to look forward to! Maybe there would be a cool group of like minded fitness nerds like me there and we would hit off! Monday afternoon I called ahead and reserved my bike. This was going to be awesome.

For those of you not aware, a spinning bike is pretty much a seat, two pedals, and a large, heavy metal wheel that you spin around in place. They were invented in the Dark Ages in the Tower of London for torturing heretics and the mentally insane.

As Tuesday crept by, the realization of just how ill-prepared I was for a sixty minute spinning class slowly moved over my mind like the shadow of the moon eclipsing the sun. I barely make it through my forty minute rides on my road bike, which includes usually one break and coasting down most hills. Love downhill!

I arrived at the gym about five minutes before class, and everyone was already on their bikes, spinning their way through a warmup (or something).A little intimidated but not ready to just turnaround and walkout, I jumped on and started pedaling. And jumped off and adjusted the seat. And jumped back on and starting going again...and jumped off and adjusted the handlebars. This repeated itself four times as I figured out, in order of importance I'm guessing, what each of the little black levers on the important parts of the bike did.

The instructor came in, jumped on his bike, turned on some techno/Bon Jovi/Journey mix tape, and off we went. As we began to spin away, I noted some stark differences between myself and the other riders there. 1) Bike shoes - they all had clipless shoes. 2) Padded shorts - yes, those padded shorts you see cyclists wearing that make them look like they pooped their pants. I was in running shorts and running shoes that had a thousand or so miles on them. And were used primarily to mow the lawn.

I essentially burned out my quads in the first ten minutes. FIRST TEN MINUTES! It was fifteen minutes in when the instructor uttered the words that will forever be burned, SEARED, in my mind, "OK everyone, now that you're warmed up, let's attack some hills!" In the next five minutes, my right calf cramped up. Stopping three times to shake it out, I could feel the eyeballs drift over to me. Within twenty minutes, I had soaked through my shirt. I was gassed.

It felt like we had done enough work to justify stopping there. In my mind, I gave a "We're good!" thumbs up to myself and envisioned my exit from the room. If only.

I'm pretty sure I groaned, out loud, at least once when the instructor told us to "crank it (the dial that controls the resistance of the bike) up three turns!" - which is, by the way, two and a half turns too far.

Halfway through it was pretty obvious why someone, back in the day, invented the shorts with the padding stitched into them. Granted, it was more obvious once I got off the bike and tried to walk away, but that is another story.

Honestly, I entered the class a cocky marathoner, thinking that base fitness would carry me through the workout. "Humbling" is all I can say. But I did it. All sixty minutes. Despite every brain cell yelling to stop. The last thirty minutes were...enjoyable? Pushing and pushing, I did not want to just give up. I wanted to beat the workout, dammit! My legs slowly came back to me as I figured out how to better pace myself, and lo and behold, I COULD actually finish the spinning class. I wasn't turning four thousand RPM like everyone else, but I didn't have to. I wasn't there for them I was there for me.

I'll be back. When something kicks your ass that bad, you have to go back. You can't let IT win! I'm actually pretty excited. It had been awhile since I got out of the comfort zone and tried something new.

So, I'll see the spinning bike again soon. I haven't signed up for another class, but I will. I'll never be great at it. Probably not anyways. But you don't have to be awesome at something to enjoy doing that. Ask anyone who runs a five hour marathon or thirty or forty minute 5k. They finished way behind the guys who won the race, but who cares? At least they are out there doing it. They put in the work. So will I.

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