33/56 – Spin

There was good news on Tuesday evening when I had an assessment session with Pete down at the Accelerate Performance Centre. My recovery has progressed slightly ahead of schedule and there is a possibility of starting very light training again in two weeks, a fortnight earlier than we had first thought. By ‘very light’ we are talking an initial fifteen minute session, the middle five of which is a walking break. I’ll take it.

I’m increasingly impressed with the development going on down at APC. The recently refurbished treatment room is looking great and the range of services continues to grow. They are not just treating sports injuries anymore, for example the gentleman before me was there for a massage as part of his stress therapy, and was sent there by his place of work. The treatment was so effectiveย that he actually fell asleep. They are good at what they do and it’s a valuable local resource.

In the meantime I have followed through on my threat to unleash myself on the world of spin. I figured this would provide a modicum of exercise whilst keeping my knee relatively protected. I knew nothing about spin, in fact in the past I was rather dismissive of it. Spin was something for soft gym bunnies to harp on about and definitely not a productive use of my time.

Nicola however used to attend a spin class regularly. In advance of my first attempt she kindly wrote out a short schedule for an ‘easy’ session containing a warm up, easy period, hill climb, sprint, and then various spells in the hallowed ‘four positions’. This all seemed a little contrived to me. How hard could it be? She told me I would need a towel and a water bottle. I told her that was totally unnecessary. I sauntered up to the attic, plan in hand, mounted the new spin bike, and wondered if I would get any sort of meaningful workout at all.

I won’t dress this up. The next half hour utterly destroyed me. Within five minutes I was gasping for breath and tearing at the shirt I was wearing. By ten minutes the shirt was on the floor and the bike was soaked with sweat. My eyes were stinging and I needed water. Badly. My quads burned. When it came to the point of the first ‘hill climb’ the schedule determined three minutes of effort. I bailed at thirty seconds in agony. I mentally rewrote the schedule from that point on and continued with a revised impromptu (and far easier) session, I simply couldn’t cope with what was written down.

Fifteen minutes later I got off the bike. To say I staggered down the stairs would be kind. ‘Poured myself down the stairs’ might be more accurate. I was shaking. I was dizzy. I was humbled. Nic laughed.

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This was way harder than anything I had in mind…

Turns out spin is really hard, and a totally brilliant workout. Initial humiliation aside I’ve been on and off the bike for ten days now and whilst it can get a little dull pedalling away in the attic with nothing but an ipad and a healthy dose of MTFU for company, it is nonetheless providing the exercise and endorphin release I needed whilst allowing my knee to continue to heal. From a biomechanical perspective it is also helping me to increase quadricep strength which will be key in overcoming this injury once and for all. I’ve now dialled in what constitutes an appropriate workout for me, and I’m alternating between hard and easy sessions in exactly the same manner that I would go about my running training. In fact there is enough of a correlation between spin and my main activity of running to warrant maintaining a regular session in my weekly training regime once I’m back out on the trails, and I fully intend to follow through on that.

It’s not running. But then again nothing is (for me). Howeverย it’s new, relevant, and if you are presently ‘on the shelf’ like me it might just be the short term solution you are looking for.

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