*UPDATE* Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use Study

12/21/2010: Preliminary results were reported at Indoor Cycle Instructor in October 2010. Manuscript in preparation. Once published, results will be made available on this site and at ICI.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Yes, folks, it's Week 7 of my Summer 2008 theme scheme: Spinning Survival -- the theme I've pitched all month as traveling "the world" (uh, Manhattan) to soak up the most boring, tedious experiences and develop teachable coping mechanisms to share with you guys. What I found, however, is that the only difference between enduring a "motivationally challenged" class and (for lack of a better expression) one that doesn't suck, is your sense of attribution. Do you think you get through a class because the coaching is really good or the music is really good? Or does that coaching/music just allow you to more easily tap into your own sense of motivation for being there?
(Hint: That's what good coaching/music do -- help you motivate yourself).

My new ride the first part of this week is called "Coach Yourself," and is designed to teach you to do just that. I did it a few times yesterday with varying levels of efficacy, and have been distributing a Spinning Survival Guide I authored based on the principles I included within the ride. I decided it would be more effective, however, if I gave you guys a sneak peek at it in advance of coming into that ride or the other one I'll do this week. Enjoy!

Coaching Yourself: How to Transform the Insulting to the Inspiring
Melissa Marotta, STAR 3 Spinning Instructor (melspin@gmail.com)

Step #1: Establish your motivation – your reason for being there. Be specific so that you can tap into it later, as your own amazing coach.

>> Why are you here? What did you want to accomplish today?
*If you get bored in class, you do not have enough goals*

Step #2: Set “the 3 P’s”: Conceptualize each ride as a training session with purpose, plan, and HR parameters. Always.
>>How are you going to accomplish the goals from Step #1?

If no purpose, plan, or parameters are given to you, set them yourself. Be specific.

Step #3: “Mindful Modifications” -- control your “Structural Ability”: the environmental factors/triggers to help you fulfill Steps #1 and #2. Remember “Spin-etiquette”– any modifications must not distract your fellow riders or the instructor (i.e., sitting while class is standing is always fine; however, standing for more than a short posture/stretch break while class is sitting is obnoxious! Be smart, not obnoxious.)

1. Talk to yourself
* Pedal stroke techniques: “forward / wipe / up” – “ankle-up” -- “pull up” >> synchronize
self-talk with the music!
* Remind yourself how what you’re doing relates to your goals. Just a few examples:
- Aerobic (<>
- Active breathing to boost recovery time and support work efforts
- Mental focus/self-discipline to build confidence and pride!
- Training between 75-80% with minimal recovery to increase lactate threshold
* Aim for short, measurable mini-goals (“I’m going to coordinate my breathing with my pedal stroke for the next minute”)

2. Use the music
* Close your eyes. Listen to the beat and lyrics. Find something external to connect with your internal existence.
* Find something about the music to compensate for the coaching

>> Is there a pattern you can use to time portions of your pedal stroke or your breathing? Try to find one.

3. Bend your attitude.

* Control your thoughts. The only thing in this world that you are 100% in control of is your attitude. Learn to use your mind, or your mind will use you. If you think negative thoughts (“this sucks…”), you will feel negative. Use the opportunity to build and practice good habits, skills, and good self-talk.
* Thought-stopping techniques >> re-framing, re-focusing.
* “What am I learning from this?” – mental/physical skills and techniques

4. Make your ride like a well-written thesis or paper! Don’t just go through the motions; make everything mean something. Be mindful of every pedal stroke, every breath. Make everything relate back to your original goals – the big picture.

5. Focus Strategies: Train your mind like you train your body

* Anticipate distractions and rehearse coping mechanisms! Conditioned response when you detect a distraction!!
>> Change breathing/resistance; closing eyes; shifting posture; squeeze/release grip; roll shoulders – whatever works!
* Visualize muscles, breaths, pedal strokes
* Bargain with yourself (“I will stay in the moment for 45 seconds”. Every mini-goal builds confidence for the next).
* “Change one thing” – technical change, strategic change, attitude adjustment, growth of experience ("I will keep my head lined up with my spine for the next 45 seconds, I will change only that.")
* Give yourself feedback about every short, specific mini-goal. Excellent coaches give feedback – be your own excellent coach!
* Best tip: CLOSE YOUR EYES. Don’t look where you don’t want to go – out the window, at the clock.

And the #1 way to make a good OR bad Spinning class flyyyyyyyyyyyy by:
6. Heart Rate Games!
* Upgrade your life: GET A HEART RATE MONITOR!
* Maintaining HR over changes: Progressive loading of resistance (“increase and breathe” – my favorite game!) or cadence

* Make up your own HR games! Increasing/decreasing HR over changes. Quantifying recovery time.

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