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Girl on an adventure: priorities in training

Good’s wellness writer Rachel Grunwell is gearing up (literally) for her latest adventure – a 100km bike ride from Christchurch to Akaroa on March 25. Check out her fifth blog in this series about the challenge ahead.

Priorities. If I had my way, this would be eating chocolate and shopping for girly-girl dresses. But these “priorities” will not help me get through – and survive -  Le Race, a gruelling hard and hilly cycle race. Darn it.

My coach Richard Greer, from Team CP, had a chat to me about “priority training sessions” recently. He puts my training schedule in the Training Peaks app and lists on each session whether they are a high priority, or not. So, if I get busy (I do!) and miss some sessions then I know which ones are the most important – and that I shouldn’t skive off.

I was tired the other day, and had a hard day at work. So, I thought I’d skive off my training session for the day. But I saw Training Peaks listed an gym cycle class and that this was a priority 1. A Priority 1 session means I must get my butt there whether I like it or not basically.

My heart sank. Some days, I don’t feel like training, it’s tough. But I’ve learnt to pick my sorry butt up off the floor and just get it done. I feel better for it, obviously once it’s over!

So, that night I was tired as a dog, I fed the kids dinner, and then when the bloke came home from work, I dragged my body off to Les Mills for a cycle class.

That’s the thing about training. Some days I’m in the mood for it, other days I’d rather go shopping for girly-girl dresses. But when you sign up for an event and have a big-scary-hairy-goal, then you must adopt a “harden-up” and “get-it-done” mind-set. After all, there’s nothing like an event to “scare you into action”.

By the way, if you think you just cycle on a bike to train for a big cycling event like Le Race, then you’re wrong. Strength, yoga, running and other cross-training elements like gym cycle classes are equally as important.

Picture supplied by Les Mills 

Richard recommended I do a weekly cycle class at Les Mills as part of my training. It’s a safe option (ie no traffic), great to do if it’s a wet day or a busy time of day outdoors (ie peak traffic time), you can ride next to someone and have a chat (he must know I like to talk A LOT). And cycle classes help you get fit because they tend to be high-intensity. You can also practice your cycling technique like cadence (how fast you spin the pedals) to changing gears, for instance.

“These classes are short, hard and you get the job done quick – and I’m a big fan of that style of training,” says Richard, who has a family too. So, he gets that quicker and quality training over long hours of training appeals big time to me.

Richard laughed at me when I told him about that Priority 1 spin class I wanted to slink out of, but I saw Priority 1 and it got me into action.

“Good. It’s keeping you honest then,” he quipped.

So, I noted that sympathy from my coach is not part of his training schedule. Actually, he is a really nice guy.

Just don’t mess with his Priority 1 schedule, that’s all (chuckle).

I’ve learnt to love my weekly cycle class at Les Mills. You can choose between a few types of cycle classes here, shorter or longer ones, or easier to harder ones. The coolest class is called ‘The Trip’.It’s like being at the movies, but you’re on a bike instead. There’s still an instructor at the front of the class leading the pack, but they help you cycle through virtual worlds (via the big screen) while music booms. So, one minute I’m up on the pedals in an easier gear trying to get up a steep glacier, or the next minute I’m in a harder gear whizzing through a space-age city, then later on I’m sprinting down a rollercoaster-like world and then near the end I’m pedalling slower, and cooling down, as I cruise while the sun sets. It’s wicked!

It’s also great to have an instructor yelling at me to speed up, sit down, stand up and just when I feel like slacking off she yells “go faster, go, go, go!”

The sweat, drips, then pools on the floor. But it’s a massive adrenalin hit and buzz.

Rachel is Good’s wellness columnist and the director of the lifestyle website . Follow her on Inspired Health’s Facebook and Instagram