Biking saved me last spring. When I fractured my tibial plateau in Russia at our Olympic test event, I was limited in terms of athletics, and was only allowed to do “non-impact” sports for 3 months. I was grounded. Literally. Getting on my bike was the one activity that I found that could strengthen my quad and hamstring muscles without putting too much stress on my knee, so I started riding. A lot.
My muscles began to grow and started supporting my knee more and more, but I also found that I was becoming happier. The time that I spent on my bike, was time away from the grind in the gym, it was balancing out my training and offering some space to breath, think, and reflect. Long uphill climbs became a meditative experience- an exercise in mental toughness & willpower. Fast aggressive descents allowed my reaction times to be tested and my athleticism exposed. I found a new balance in my life both figuratively and literally.
Balance and Biking
There would be days where I would show up to ride and spend the 10 minutes getting ready, just venting to my friends about various situations that were causing stress and anxiety. By the time I was done riding, my worries would seem so much less significant. So, this week’s suggestion is to get on a bike. I don’t care what type, road, mountain, or even a cruiser on the way to an outdoor concert. I don’t care for how long, how far, or how fast. Just get out there. Hopefully you will find some of this balance as well.
If you feel like more of a challenge, you can try out the interval program that I use when trying to build a strong base level of conditioning.
5 minutes easy
5 minutes hard
5 minutes easy
(30 seconds MAX EFFORT + 30 seconds EASY) x 10 minutes
15 minutes easy
*Follow with adequate stretching and foam rolling.