Earlier this week I read a brief but informative article in the New York Times called “Training Insights from Star Athletes.” The Times interviewed three elite athletes who discussed various facets of their training, including the importance of making it focused and structured.
When Felkerino and I agreed to ride Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in 2011, I spent much of the two years before it doing what I would call more training-type things. I worked deliberately on strengthening my upper and lower body in my gym workouts, bought a heart rate monitor for doing intervals in spin classes and pushing myself to Zone whatever in cardio classes, and developed a weekend ride training program designed for Felkerino and I to peak at PBP.
As I read the Times piece it dawned on me that since PBP I have not really been training, even though I am still engaged in activities that are similar to those I was doing in 2010 and ’11.
I still go to the gym several times a week. I hit a spin class or two and use my heart rate monitor to help with my effort. I ride my bike regularly and go long on the weekends. I even fit in a run here and there. But these activities are not training.
My weekly routine is now geared around being active for the fun of it. “Fun” is a nonspecific term so let me break down what it means to me. For me, fun is:
- Riding a winter century with Felkerino and feeling like it did not shatter me.
- Watching myself improve when I put my mind to it. For example, this year I’ve gotten a thrill out of seeing the increase in the number of pushups I can do and testing how long I can hold a plank. I’m still pretty bad at pushups, but I’m getting better!
- The pleasant rise of my heart rate rise in a gym class, knowing that I can keep pushing myself even harder.
- Doing jumping jacks as fast as I can. For some reason, I am really into jumping jacks these days.
- Going for a steady 10-mile run and not hurting during or after it.
- Sweating from the effort of a good workout.
- Staying healthy with no other specific end-goal in mind.
Even though I have made it part of my daily routine, working out does not feel boring or stale. Lately, being active is when I feel most authentic and real. I’m physically engaged from head to toe and my mind elevates into a happy and sometimes meditative state.
Working out unleashes my joy for life.
When the time comes that I feel a need to return to more focused training, I will buckle down and do it. For now I’m doing it for fun and loving it.