More accurate title: How I Enjoy Cross-Training on a Road Bike
First things first, I don't have a road bike. I have a Giant Hybrid. For me (as a runner) this was a splurge, as opposed to something off Craigslist like I should have gotten. I definitely didn't need this. If I wanted to cross-train while getting ready for a race, I could have found a spinning Groupon for 10 classes for $60 and saved about $340. But I decided I would USE the bike. I thought I would commute on the bike. I would love being outdoors. I would take my bike to different places and ride around.
Spoiler alert: NONE of that happened. In fact, after a few bike rides, I was back on Groupon almost buying spinning classes. I decided it just "wasn't for me." I hated putting on a helmet (maybe because I bought a cheap helmet and it looked(s) awful). I hated pedaling and pedaling only to find out it had only been 32 minutes. And I hated trying to maintain a respectable pace that mimicked a hard run. But I told myself I committed to the bike, and so I can't do indoor cycling (because we have perfect cycling weather like, 90% of the time). So instead of not cycling and not indoor cycling, I did... NOTHING. For weeks I did no exercise WHAT. SO. EVER. It's also when I was not updating my blog out of shame.
Fast-forward to me being able to run again and I actually LIKE getting on my bike.
Psychology tells me since I don't HAVE to ride the bike, it becomes more enjoyable. I am sure that's true. But I made some tweaks to my approach. And, thus, I have general advice that applies to everyone because this is the Internet and I can make those claims if I so desire.
1) I ONLY ride on a designated (closed) bike path so I don't wear the helmet (I'm sure I probably should, but I only cross one really small street and it's the same street I cross when running and I don't wear a helmet when I run).
2) I use my headphones and listen to podcasts. (This sounding more and more dangerous, right? I assure you, these are like, closed bike paths. I still turn on my blinky lights if that makes you feel better.)
3) I don't go for pace. I love the jell-o feeling in my legs when I get off the bike, so instead of using momentum (spinning), I make sure to WORK MY LEGS (pushing). For most rides I use the largest chainwheel. A friend showed me this. It works your inner thighs and glutes oh so good.
4) I don't try to go out for more than an hour. Sure I could get more out of it if I did 1-2 hour rides. I could use it to build my aerobic base. Maybe one day I will, but for now I am perfectly content using my bike as strength-training on days when I don't have the time for a long workout.
So basically the "purpose" of my riding shifted from NEEDING to ride to stay in marathon shape (which would have been possible if and only if I was super-dedicated) to WANTING to reap the benefits of daily workouts and additional strengthening. And it's totally working.
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