*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.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Life Policy: Blog More... Study Less? (Heh.)

I canceled three sets of new year's plans, designed at staying alone in an apartment that's not mine in a city that's not fully mine anymore -- solely for the purpose of writing on my cycling blog. Do I feel lame? Au contraire. I'm fulfilling my promises to myself, is all.

When I launched this site (2008 Resolution #7, actually), my key priority was to ensure that this was never about me. It was to be a universally applicable resource for the recreational cyclists who took my classes -- training tips and techniques, speckled with dashes of sports psychology and my coaching philosophy... and, of course, cautionary tales about the merits of avoiding tearing any major hip flexors, falling face-first off your bike in the middle of Central Park, or becoming the posterchild for overtraining. See? Clearly, never about me! ;-)

But in all seriousness, my concept of what my site should be about is actually what has kept me from contributing to it recently.

You see, 2008 has marked major developments in my two separate (but interdependent) life pathways -- that of a coach, and that of a physician-trainee. My existence can be summarized as both competition and complement between these two paths. Of course, I cannot overstate the extent to which my experiences as a coach are going to make me a better doctor. Empowering people to take a proactive role in their physical, emotional, and psychological wellness is precisely what led me to medicine in the first place -- exactly as I strive to do through Spinning. And I hope that one day, my new medical knowledge will make me a more valuable resource as a coach. However, I find it challenging to balance my time and energy (both finite resources) between investing in my own development within each of these spheres of existence. I maintain two separate blogs -- this one for cycling/coaching (for YOU), and another for medical training (for ME). Ironically, the themes I reflect on through my medical life are based on the same principles I taught myself through coaching fitness -- and, moreover, only my regular Spinners will appreciate the URL of the other blog! (Even if you're not interested in the content, amuse yourself by dragging your mouse over the hyperlink.) Writing has consistently been my way of "keeping it real" -- it's how I best learn from and process incoming stimuli. Launching Spintastic has undoubtedly made me a better coach. It has forced me to develop language that can stand on its own to empower and educate: in writing, I cannot hide behind the drums of Safri Duo, my increasingly uninhibited dramatic "calls to action," or the sheer power of the endorphin response to physical movement. I have to create my desired effect through pure merit alone, and I dig the intellectual challenge of it.

But now as a first-year medical student, I can't justify spending hours blogging away within both realms of my life. In theory, I'm actually s'posed to study - lest I have any reasonable expectation of becoming competent to be responsible for a human being's life one day. If I have "x" needs (reflection, processing, maintenance of critical self-awareness), it's the OTHER blog that meets those needs... since that's the one for me: I don't worry about whether I sound inarticulate, incompetent, or even psychotic. Those who follow it accept those ground rules. To a large extent, "Feel the Road" has served its objective to maintain a healthy perspective about the absolutely crazy things I've done and seen during my training thus far -- which is why it's been "winning" out.

Well, that's all going to change in 2009. I realize now that things are different: Spintastic was an outgrowth of my Listserv, wherein I'd send out my schedule laced with "get a HRM, keep your HR low, become a fat-burning machine at rest" propaganda (sounds terrible, right?) to all 350-something of you -- then those who were extra-interested would visit Spintastic for extra info. That's not really how it works anymore. Listserv postings only go out when I visit nyc; Spintastic gets visited by people of their own volition, at their own prompting, likely on a quest for an alternative to Facebook for a procrastination-at-the-office mechanism.

So, I'm just going to write. When I have something to say that can in some way serve as an remotely interesting thought that someone can apply to their training, their wellness, their life outlook - DONE. I'm writing.

Is this a New Year's Resolution? Nah. That term gets a bad rap, given its association with likely failure. I wish it weren't the case. I think it's because the kinds of goals that happen to get set on January 1 often are set BECAUSE it's January 1... and people get sloppy in declaring what needs a-changin'. They don't invest the requisite time and mental energy doing the necessary planning work. Goal-setting is an art, and it's all about the planning. My New Year's Eve ride today ("2008: A Year in Review") was about that: first block, we spent time reflecting on our accomplishments from 2008 -- the things that brought us joy and fulfillment; second block, how we can learn from the challenges we weren't yet able to overcome; third block, setting goals to maximize the stuff from block 1 and set us up for success on the issues raised in block 2. I'll post the full ride soon. Have to teach in 6 hours...

Anyway, one of the things that I personally accomplished in 2008 was getting pretty darned good at setting goals. Becoming a better goal-setter was a theme of some of my actual 2008 "resolutions," as it were -- there were 10 of them on the color-coded list I made on 12/31/07... and I actually kept them all. Imagine?

I got into medical school and commenced my training as a physician -- in a brand new place, so far (literally and figuratively) from anywhere I've ever known.
I earned my STAR 3 credentials from the Spinning program. I became a certified personal trainer.
I "de-cluttered" multiple realms of my world: from literally eliminating every piece of paper I owned, to making challenging decisions to shape key interpersonal relationships, to actively surrounding myself with people and experiences that have enriched and empowered me.
I explored a stimulating new hobby (sports psychology and meta-coaching).
I launched this blog as a fitness resource, and as an opportunity to connect with so many people about my dearest passion.
I even reached a point where I don't need to make color-coded, 10-item resolution lists to feel "on top of my game." Yes, that was on my list last year.

What made these stick? Yes, they were specific. Yes, they were measurable. Yes, they were moderately realistic. But that's not why they stuck, per se. They stuck because they meant something to me. It really mattered to me THAT I either "did x thing," or carried myself "x way" -- for a specific reason that was inextricably linked. It's like I wrote about last year -- it's that reason behind a goal that often is what carries the day.

That, and my weird quirky knack for calling my goals "new life policies." The stakes feel so much higher ;-)

(BTW - when I went back to retrieve that last link after remembering that I once wrote the exact same sentence a year ago, I found a whole lot of really thorough goal-setting pieces (all of which I thoroughly plan to re-read tomorrow)... now I see why I've felt too daunted to write! I cannot believe I used to teach 21 cycling classes, write epic novels like this craziness, and still sleep 8 hours a night and maintain a real life. I'm exhausted just living my former life for 10 days this trip!)

So, point is: I'm going to write again. 2009, for me, is going to be allllllll about effective time management. I have specific, short-term, measurable sub-goals that all relate to that overarching theme -- an area that I am striving to not suck at. Eh? One of said sub-goals is to contribute creatively to THIS blog, a reflection of my involvement and investment in this realm of my life that brings me such opportunities, joys, and unbelievable rewards.

(Feel free to harass me if I don't deliver.)

Here's to 2009!

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