The mental aspect of spin cycling: what works for me

For me, getting faster on a spin bike appears to be almost entirely mental – something to do with finding a pattern I can sustain rather than flailing as hard as I can and hoping I can keep it up for some predetermined amount of time.

Back around Feb. 20 it took me over 30 minutes to ride 6 miles – 31:30, to be exact.

A little over a week later I did the same distance in 22:42. The difference was “riding the mile I was in.” I’d let myself take it a bit easier in the first minute of every mile but then pick up the pace to make sure I beat 4 minutes a mile, or 15 mph.

This past week I did 10 miles in under 36:45, beating my goal by over 3 minutes. I think the key was sticking to that same familiar pattern that allowed me to stay mentally relaxed even when I was focusing on a speed burn.

A few days earlier I’d struggled on a 10-mile ride on a spin bike at another YMCA that had a different computer display. The one I’ve used most shows me rpms but not mph, giving me some clue as to my speed but allowing my mind to focus entirely on time and distance.

At the Jorgensen Y, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the mph. Consequently, I was in constant “can I keep this up??!??!” mode. Eventually I settled into a rhythm of going 12-14 mph and then kicking it up to 18 mph+ for periodic 1-minute bursts, but mentally I was a wreck. It took me nearly 42 minutes to ride 10 miles, primarily because I didn’t have a plan and I felt out of control the whole time.

I don’t know how any of this this translates to riding outside, as I haven’t done as much of that lately. But it definitely makes me realize how important finding some kind of pattern or rhythm is to any kind of workout I do.

Y-Tri numbers update: 138 miles cycling, 2.25 miles swimming. Running miles of 52.4 were met in March, but I still need 87 cycling miles and another 2.5 swim miles by April 26. (Believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to swimming now after a great session last week on a day I was going to skip if not for the encouragement of a blog friend. I haven’t got to the pool yet this week – hopefully today – but for once it was because of a time crunch and not because I didn’t feel like it.)

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6 Responses to The mental aspect of spin cycling: what works for me

  1. bgddyjim says:

    LOL! You can’t do run a mile, walk a minute on a bike! They don’t work like that.

  2. bgddyjim says:

    How the spin bike translates to a real bike: it’s all in the cadence. You can spin an easier gear faster and GO faster than if you try to mash a harder gear and worry about speed. The goal on the spin bike is to get the feel of the cadence (RPM’s) and then use that cadence on the real bike.

    Without a cadence specific computer, you’re going to be a little blind but rely on the feeling. When your cadence slows, shift to an easier gear and pick the cadence up. When pedaling gets too easy, downshift. That’s really all there is to it.

    • tischcaylor says:

      A “cadence specific computer”? Good grief. Sometimes I think I’m just too ignorant to ride anything other than a tricycle. As always, though, thanks for the advice. Eventually some of it may finally sink in.

      • bgddyjim says:

        It’s all good, just keep pedaling, you’ll get there.

        They do make a cadence computer… They make a power meter computer and a speed computer. The first and third are relatively cheap, that one in the middle costs a ton.

        Now, on my bike, my exceptionally expensive bike, I go with a simple $40 wireless speed computer. No bells and whistles, just plain and simple. For the cadence I go by feel. On the other hand, one of the guys I ride with has a Flight Deck system that gives him speed, cadence AND tells him which gear he’s in. 😉

  3. Sandra says:

    So glad I could help! 🙂

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