This weekend my wife has gone to Geneva on a trip to see the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Whilst I have to admit I am extremely jealous of this, it does give rise to a different phenomenon which in itself occurs about as often as the discovery of dark matter: a weekend home alone!
I have to add at this point that I was so pleased at coming up with that opening paragraph that this blog will probably only go downhill from here, but anyway, on with the show…
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my normal weekends and would not swap them for anything, but as all married folks will know, absence makes the heart grow fonder and a few days of freedom once in a while is good for both parties.
So what to do? Oh the possibilities… A six film back-to-back Rocky marathon (a hextology?) Possibly, although I would need to have a siesta during Rocky V to make it through to the final fight. Alternatively I could cheat and watch the rest of our current Breaking Bad box set, although that would not be worth my life when my wife got back! So it turns out the only real option is of course a gym marathon, and given my recent themes I decided to go for 3 consecutive days of spin classes.
Doing these classes so close together allowed me to compare the teaching styles like a sort of hands-on Ofsted inspector: Friday’s is the most random of the lot, with a mixture of Les Mills tracks combined with recent electronic stuff such as Calvin Harris. Our coach likes to have a theme of the week (which is usually just ‘pain’) but occasionally something more specific such as climbing Mount Everest. The class involves a lot of interval sprints and hill climbs, with a lot of recovery breaks mixed with incredibly high intensity sprints and power climbs. Sunday’s is similar but being an official Les Mills RPM session follows a set track list, which get you used to the routines and allows you to go harder in some areas when you know a recovery is coming up soon.
Saturday (and Thursday) is with a different instructor, and totally different approach. The music seems to mainly be 90’s house & garage (think Artful Dodger & Craig David!) and the tracks are very closely mixed together with little rest in-between and a consistently high tempo. There is also some upper body focus such as push ups & planks on the handlebars whilst riding, which would be unthinkable on a Friday, but actually adds an all-round element to training. So the two are chalk & cheese as far as bike sessions go, but still equally fun and it is good to mix things up.
Another thing about being on your own is the temptation to junk out on food. I am afraid to say I cracked on Day One after Friday’s evening class and hit KFC. In my defence I really needed the protein, but I was devastated to find out that my first ever bargain bucket did not actually come in a bucket at all, nor any sort of a truncated cone-shaped receptacle for that matter, but a normal paper bag. This took the shine off it somewhat (quite literally as all the grease rubbed onto the packaging) but it did do the job it was tasked with. I managed a bit better on Saturday and made a (marginally) healthier pulled pork and sweet potato dish, with plenty of BBQ sauce to replace those electrolytes.
Anyway, back to training. Saturday’s morning class was incredibly busy, and with no little irony the air con seemed to be broken which meant at one point I was sweating faster than I could drink. I mean literally it was like someone had turned on a tap. Apologies to casual readers who find that a bit disturbing, but I am sure those who ride regularly will know exactly what I mean… I had done back to back classes before, but with just over 12 hours recovery since the last ride my legs were still recovering, and it felt tough.
Sunday was an evening class, meaning I was able to fuel up beforehand with scrambled eggs for breakfast and pie, mash & veg for Sunday dinner. Admittedly the latter might have been a bit too close to the training session to the point where at one stage was worried I was going to see it again, but fortunately I managed to hold it down. I soon discovered that being sick however, was the least of my concerns…
The minute I sat down I remembered why 3 hard bike sessions on consecutive days is a bad idea. Now I wear proper padded bike shorts but this offered little protection from the blinding pain in the saddle region. Too late, the class was starting and I could not face the walk of shame so had to try to power through. All I could think of was how much I needed Will Smith to drop by with that inflatable pillow from Bad Boys 2! In the end I needn’t have worried, as the rest of my body quickly caught up and after 15 minutes I was so sore all over I hardly noticed the pain in my backside. Although I could not maintain my normal pace through the whole session, I still got through to the end and pushed my total to over 2000 Kcals for the 3 hours riding.
As well as biking I managed to get in some pool time after each session, although with hindsight the Saturday morning one might not have been the best idea as two-thirds of the pool were taken up by kids and their parents. Of the two remaining lanes, one was full of heads-up-breaststrokers and the other (no word of a lie) had someone who must have been training for the national team swimming butterfly whilst wearing fins and taking up the other. Now to be fair she was very good, but seriously love, there is a time and place for that sort of thing and it is usually first thing in the morning, and not peak time on a weekend.
The one upside was it did mean I had the jacuzzi to myself (possibly as I was the only one over the age of 10 who was not a parent or attempting to splash all of the water our of the pool) which helped ease some of the leg pain I was feeling. Still, at least I am working from home tomorrow as I have a feeling I might need a while to recover from this one…