With all the time we spend in the gym making ourselves better, it is easy to forget the importance of sport in our overall fitness. Sports get us out of the gym, and allow us to use the gains we have worked so hard to achieve in a real world environment. Sports also allow us to use and develop specialized skills that we might not otherwise develop in a gym environment.
At the end of this winter I found myself in a rut. I was going to the gym 3-4 days a week, but I didn’t feel like I was really doing anything and I was discouraged. I knew I needed to continue to work out, but I needed to mix it up a bit.
I have had a passion for cycling for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Southern California, I would mountain bike several times a week. It was the foundation of my fitness routine and I loved it. I was outside in nature, often by myself, and it gave me a chance to decompress. I would ride for hours and come home exhausted but ready for more. I didn’t spend the time riding thinking “I can’t wait for this to be over.” It wasn’t a chore, it was a relief, and I got in shape while doing it. When we moved to Minnesota ten years ago, I found myself without the trails I called home and with a condensed riding season. My bike sat in the garage and I eventually forgot about it.
In April, I decided it was time for a change. I purchased a road bike and got out my old riding gear. I found friends that ride and I started mapping out routes. On my first longer ride, I figured I had a pretty solid fitness base and it would be a piece of cake. I was humbled. I can deadlift and squat a pretty decent amount, but even small hills were destroying my quads. Cycling put a whole different load on my muscles in a way I was not used to. With time and practice I am getting stronger and filling in the gaps in my training that obviously existed. I go for rides that last for an hour or more and I get back without realizing how long I’ve been gone. I would never be able to say that about going for an hour-long run. I’m happier when I get back and I feel accomplished.
Sport is going to mean different things to different people, but we all have something that we enjoy out of the gym. The point is that there is more to being fit than just hitting the gym on a regular basis. Get out there, be active, and enjoy life while making yourself better.