Last year I lost quite a bit of weight (almost 30 pounds, for those of you who want to know). I did it by strict dieting and a whole heap of exercise. I have a recumbent bike that I rode every day for almost four months, and I took up running as well.
The bike I hated. It was hard. It made me sweaty. It made my butt hurt. And my competitive nature never let me just take it easy - I always had to go further, burn more calories, spend more time at a higher level. When I started on New Year's Day, I went just twenty minutes at level 3, for about a 300 calorie burn. When I ended I was doing no less than 500 calories and for no less than twenty minutes. Some days I got to 500 before the twenty minutes was up and had to keep going, and some days it took me almost half an hour to get there. By the end of the third month I was in tears just at the thought of getting on that damn bike. I hated it. I did eventually stop riding it after crying to my husband that I didn't want to do it any more (I had asked him to make sure that I rode it each day). Having burned myself out on it, I have only ridden it a handful of times since.
Last spring and summer I started running. I got a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Running" and faithfully followed all of the directions and tips. I stretched. I timed myself. I got a pedometer. And after a while, I started to enjoy it. I liked being able to be outside and running. I liked that I could get further each day without slowing to a walk. I liked that people noticed me and commented on my running when they saw me in town. I loved the way I felt after a run. Hot and sweaty, yes, but also happy. Accomplished. I even competed in a 5k race last summer. I came in almost dead last, but I did it.
But the cold season in Maine strikes hard and fast, and I was forced to give up running until the roads were safe again. Ice and snow and many hours of darkness combine to make even walking outside a risky endeavor. So I've done nothing all winter to keep myself in shape. and it shows. I'm up ten pounds. I don't feel or look as good as I did. I'm frustrated and antsy. I want to get back out and run again!
But in order to be ready for running season, I would have to get back on the bike. The bike I hate. The Bike of Extreme Pain and Suffering. The Bike of Doom. I would have to make a practice out of it, too - not just pedaling slowly once a week or less and hope that it makes a difference. Because if last year taught me anything, it was that getting and staying in shape is hard work.
So Sunday I got on the bike. I pedaled for 23 minutes at level 4, went 6.06 miles and burned 436 calories.
And you know what? It wasn't so bad.
I made sure to stretch before and after, and read a book so that I wouldn't stare at the display. I got a little sweaty, but not enough to be uncomfortable. All in all, it was not terrible. I am apparently in better shape now than I was last year at this time. So maybe while I've been avoiding the bike, my body has been conserving my strength so that when I need it this spring, it will be ready. Then again, maybe it just wanted to show me that the whining I do about the bike is really just that - whining.
So this week marks the start of my return to training. My goal is to be back to 500 calories in under 20 minutes by the end of March, which I think is totally doable. Once I can get back out onto the roads to run, I'll let you know where I am with that, too. I'm hoping to get back out there by April 1 (weather permitting). But for now, it's back to the bike for me - and this time, I'm not giving up.