*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, February 9, 2010

"Game On": The Ride, The Mindset

Sigh. I didn't mean to go this long without blogging, here or on my "life blog."

So much has happened in the past month that I was really supposed to capture, process, and "re-structure" in some sort of meaningful way. I testified before a state legislature (I now live in a state where one can just up and go talk to The Government). My classmates presented me with an award so overwhelmingly meaningful to me that I bawled in front of 100 people like a buffoon. I secured a "yes" from ICI Master Instructor Jennifer Sage to join our instructor team for the Special Olympics benefit endurance event I've helped organize and co-lead the past two years (Sunday, March 21: 6-hour "Ride for a Reason." If you're in New England or thereabouts, you should come!). I've led a bunch of two-hour Spinning classes, where I somehow pulled off keeping people engaged while entirely seated at 70-80% LT the entire time. I created a bunch of really quite creative Spinning classes that I reeeeeeeeeeally should have written up. I taught a bunch of really, truly lousy Spinning classes that I should have reflected on and shared, too. Wrapped up in gauze-like constraints of distraction, doubt, pride, joy, despair, and utter burn-out, I've learned a ton. Both concrete and not-so-concrete.

I didn't write about any of it. Instead, I sat at my kitchen table all day long eeeeeeeevery single day taking thousands of practice questions for Step 1 of my U.S. Medical License Exam (for which I sit a week from today), remembering a time where I had such a good system for documenting and reflecting the experiences of my day in the various realms of my world.

Until today.

Background: I've been training a group of new indoor cycling instructors, helping them develop and practice various stylistic skills above and beyond the technical stuff they learn through certification. Today while giving them critical feedback on demo rides, one young woman whom I've been mentoring for almost the past two years actually moved me to tears. Ours is a unique relationship: I've been training her since her very first indoor cycling class. I've been with her through her entire journey: first, cycling shoes -- then, a heart rate monitor (not to mention her first LT field test) -- then, her Spinning certification. Ever since she decided to 'pursue her calling' to share her passion and knowledge with others, she has spent hours developing herself and her craft -- reading, writing, practicing. The first time I observed her demoing a class, she was a total natural. But now just a few months later, she was an entirely different person "up there." Confident, poised, completely owning the room. Describing with great specificity the "experience" she was skillfully creating. And though there was no mistaking the source of many concepts that passed her lips, that's not why I cried. I cried because her presentation was unmistakenly, distinctively "hers." She owned every word of it. This woman is going to change lives.

The irony is that this profound moment of appreciation came at the start of my last week teaching Spinning for the next 6 months (with the exception of Ride for a Reason). After I take my Boards, I move to Portland, Maine to start my inpatient rotations. I'll be back to Vermont in the early summer, but won't re-pick up any classes until the Fall. But the thing is, though it's not by my design exactly, I'm ready for the break. From newbie cyclists riding six-hour rides, to people finding self-efficacy and confidence through heart rate training, to guiding now seven enthusiastic, empowered young women on their instructor development paths, I've done something with this chapter of this realm of my world. Now it's a matter of reapportioning my energy to the other realms of my life that, while not been neglected per se, have not been attended to as they need to be.

But not for another week.

This week, my last week here, is also my last week til this uber-important, life-altering exam. When I came up from my books for air, I asked my roommate (who also parks herself at the kitchen table all day) what my ride should be about tonight. She often responds with something completely absurd ("the enzyme ALA dehydrogenase"), but it's easier for me to re-structure her joke-contributions into a concept of relevance to the masses ("That enzyme may be irrelevant to me -- but not to the guy who's deficient in it and can't make red blood cells! This is a ride about defining what skills are important to you...") than to think from scratch these days. Today, she responded: "About how the Boards suck, and we hate our lives and everything is miserable."

That would quite possible be THE worst possible ever theme for a ride, ever. Game over.

Then, it hit me. "GAME ON!" Staking out a challenge, embracing it as opportunity, developing an arsenal of positive self-coaching, and committing to it til the finish line.

What this translated as was as follows: a 40 minute seated climb at 95% LT.
"Game on!" indeed.

Warmup - 4 minutes
9 minutes - transition from 80% LT (4 mins) to 85% LT (3 mins) to 95% LT (2 mins)
Think about a challenge in your life that you've not yet taken action achieve. Identify the obstacles that have stood in your way, and continue to obstruct you. Connect with your breathing, with the way your body is moving. Feel at peace. Feel strong. Feel confident. Connect with the thoughts and images that empower you, that you can call upon when you need them.

"The Challenge" - 40 minutes
3 minutes: gradually transition (progressive resistance loading) from 80% LT to 85% LT to 95% LT. Find it and commit.
35 minutes: Seated climb at 95% LT
Last 5 minutes: 2x 1.25 min surges to LT

I unfortunately can't make time to write up eeeeeeeeeeverything I talked about (I only allotted myself 40 mis of writing time, then must get back to cramming.) But I'll mention a few concepts I covered with my class -- and this actually might be more helpful to just take the "buzz words" and expand them into something that's "you":
* Investing in yourself
* Establishing comfort with discomfort
* Using breath as fuel
* Choosing to suffer through adversity vs. re-frame your attitude - embracing opportunity to improve, to learn, to grow
* Improvement for the sake of improvement alone
* Patient, self-discipline, focus
* "Let every aspect of your experience contribute to your ability to do this -- your form, your pedal stroke, your breath, the way you're talking to yourself"
* "Perfecting your ability to husband all your resources upon this one task"
* Owning the challenge

Now it's time to husband all my resources upon my task, my challenge. My opportunity to demonstrate the insane number of synapses I've created over the past year and a half, some of which may actually prove to help human beings.

Game on.

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