• Michelle Howell

Switching Up Cycles

Way back when I thought being a physical therapist was in my future I started my academic career as a kinesiology major. I loved learning the science behind the mechanics of our bodies and how training affected performance, things  that still peak my interest as an athlete and coach. 

As a runner, the most obvious and beneficial training is well, running. Whether its long miles for those of us who favor distance or short explosive sprints for those of us blessed with the ability to come out of a starting block properly (I am not one of these). 

There’s no magic workout or secret formula to running faster apart from ensuring you are engaging in running of some sort consistently. With that being said, training can become a bit cyclical. You’ll find yourself training similarly throughout the season in some prescribed sequence. All throughout college my weekly training contained the staples; long run, easy run, workout. Now with my new team not much has changed, yet.

It’s a fact that our bodies love routine, every breath we take is done so with the intention of attaining and maintaining homeostasis. We become accustomed to the stimuli we're presented with thus why after running the same workout a few times the paces feel easier.

While our bodies might love routine, change can be good. Introducing new stimuli and differentiating workouts are key components of a proper training plan in order to reach new levels of fitness. For runners cross training can be the perfect way to add in some new stimuli to aid in strength and speed development as well as help reduce injury.

For me I've found cross training to be essential in preventing mental burnout. Mixing things up with yoga has always been my go to to keep me running happy, but this month I’ve been breaking up the running cycle by embracing a different type of cycle, the stationary variety. As part of my position with Outdoor Voices, I've had the opportunities to check out spinning studios around DC.

In full honestly, before this past week, I'd never been to a legitimate spin class. I'd never seen the inside of a SoulCycle or attended any other 'designer' workout classes. I came in a blank slate with no idea of what to actually expect. What I know for a fact so far is that thinking spin class would be easy was a mistake.

SoulCycle was the first studio I attended and it did not disappoint in living up to it's reputation. I couldn't help but laugh a little when walking into the spin class. Seeing the candles up front like an alter immediately brought back memories from season one of Unbreakable when Kimmy attends Spirit Cycle. The instructor was great, if you like flowery motivational talks to get you pumped up. Ironically I ended up loving the rave-esque feeling of the studio once we were on our ride and how they blended in some aspects of yoga as a practice into spinning. I was surprised by how incredibly sore I was two days later, because frankly it didn't feel like I was working out so much as at a spiritual club or some sort.

If SoulCycle is the yoga of spinning, FlyWheel is the cross fit side of the spectrum. The instructor was more focused on metrics than on 'finding your bliss' with each bike being equipped with a small led display of your troq, rpm, and countdown timer for climbs you could easily follow along to commands. We were motivated to walk out the room after the class "feeling like a bad ass" and were able to see our rankings in real time compared to our classmates on a leader board up front. I loved the competitiveness of the leader board, even if I never cracked the top 10.

I'm not sure if I'll ever be a full-time spin kind of gal, but for now I'm enjoying my new cross training routine ( apart from my sore glutes) and am excited to keep trying new things.

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