I don’t know about you, but I’m generally so bad at cross training. I find it incredibly difficult to get up the motivation.
You see, running is my passion, my one true love. Anything else seems like such a burden. I will wake up at 5 a.m. on a Tuesday to run 12 miles before work, no problem. But ask me to get up at 6 a.m. to go to the gym? No thanks.
Generally, this isn’t a problem. I’m usually running enough where it doesn’t really matter if I skimp on other cardio workouts. But when you combine a disdain for cross training with an injury, you get bad news.
When you can’t run, you need other exercise to retain at least some of that cardiovascular fitness you worked so hard over months and years of running to build. And you need it to prevent weight from creeping on. That second aspect is particularly important this year because I didn’t just buy the most expensive dress of my life not to fit into it on my wedding day.
Enter the Peloton bike.
The one exception to my hatred of cross training is organized spin classes. But not just any organized spin classes—specifically the ones that offer a ton of data.
I tried spin classes in college and I hated them. “Turn the knob a quarter turn,” “feel the beat of the music,” ugh. First of all, I’m pretty sure I was the only one who actually followed the instructors’ directions because while everyone else always looked good, I would be DYING. Second, you can’t spin on the beat when you are as rhythmically challenged as I am.
Finally, about three years ago, a friend convinced me to give it another go at a new place called FlyWheel and I was hooked. FlyWheel doesn’t just tell you to turn the knob a quarter turn, they give actual resistance and cadence metrics to target–metrics that are shown right on a screen so you can see if you are hitting them.
For a while, I would spin once a week at various studios using ClassPass before it became too expensive. For the uninitiated, ClassPass is a company that started in New York that for $99 a month let you take an unlimited number of group workout classes each month with the only caveat being that you were limited to three classes at any one studio, or studio group, per month.
I would regularly attend spin classes at FlyWheel locations across the city, and soon discovered Peloton, a fantastic FlyWheel alternative with all the same data. I did this for about a year and a half until ClassPass became too popular for its own good. It seemed that all at once ClassPass classes became almost impossible to get into, they got rid of the unlimited option, restricting usage to 10 classes a month, and they raised prices. So I ditched it.
At this point, I was running about 65 miles a week, so I had enough going on without the extra classes.
Still, I dreamed about owning a Peloton bike. You see, Peloton is more than your average spin studio. In fact, it’s more of a spin studio in the Hollywood sense of the word. The classes are all filmed and streamed live to bikes in homes across the country (and now across the world).
With the bike, you get the spin class experience, but from the comfort of your own home. And without the $35 a class price tag common in New York. For about a year, I would casually drop hints to my fiancé about how great it would be if we had one.
In February, when it was confirmed that my calf was still injured, I think he finally took pity on me and agreed we should get one.
Now, just shy of a month into ownership, I have to say it really is a game-changer. I’ve already taken 26 classes on the bike, riding almost every day. Most of them have been on-demand (ie. previously recorded), but I’ve also taken a few live rides. And I’ve loved every minute of it.
The great thing about the bike is that they offer heart-rate based classes, with an entire series of “endurance rides,” where your aim is to keep your heart rate in zone 2 – the equivalent of a recovery run. And the bike even syncs up seamlessly with my Garmin heart rate monitor!
This has allowed me to shape my spinning as I would a week of running. The vast majority of my rides are these endurance rides, with just one or two “traditional” high-intensity spin classes a week. I view those as my workouts.
It remains to be seen how this will impact my running when I finally get back out there, but I really do think I will return to running in better cardiovascular shape than I’ve ever been after time off.
So far, Strava’s new “Fitness & Freshness” function supports this idea. Right now, my “Fitness” measure is the highest it has been since mid-December, when I was just two weeks into my injury-mandated break from running.
I look forward to seeing how I can incorporate the bike into my buildup, and later, into my training!