Cycling: HIIT it or quit it.

Woke up late (again) with client appointments in the morning. Which means I only had 40 minutes at best to squeeze in a workout. Bicycling Magazine has a new article offering 15 tips on getting faster and stronger, and the very first one repeated what I’ve been hearing over and over again: High Intensity Interval Training three days a week yields as good or better results than equivalent days of long rides of 90 minutes.

Therefore today I did my first HIIT, ten minute warmup spinning followed by thirty seconds of sprinting as fast and hard as possible, then slow spinning for a minute, then super sprinting again, for about twenty minutes. A ten minute cool down, resulting in a 40 minute ride that felt really, really good AND yielded an average speed of 16.4 mph. Not bad, not bad. I’m going to give it a try and see what happens over the next few weeks.

Last night my wife brought up an interesting observation: my fuse has been incredibly short for the last few months. Anger is right under the surface and it doesn’t take very much to bring it out. The dogs doing something, a bad driver, some cyclist not wearing a helmet, all bring out flashes of anger untempered by mirth or irony. It’s just an anger response. I hadn’t realized it, but she’s right. And interestingly, I haven’t felt this good in a long time. My inward perception is that I’m feeling better, more alive and genuine, and not bottling up my responses. The outward affect is that I’m a little scary to be around, and filled with criticism and negativity of my environment.

I brought this up to my nutritionist today in my follow up appointment and he said it didn’t surprise him. My body is producing more estrogen in response to my elevated testosterone levels from exercise. Estrogen causes the anger response, and I’m still not putting in enough calories in my daily diet. Therefore my blood sugar is bouncing up and down and my hormone levels are making those spikes and crashes more emotionally severe. Combine this with the fact that emotionally I’m in the middle of massive, fundamental change within and my anger is the easiest thing to discharge all day long.

To address this I’m modifying my diet again, under guidance, to push more and better calories into my body. I’m grateful my wife pointed out my anger because I don’t want to alienate her by being unstable. I can change that behavior by being aware of how my emotional state is leaking out and affecting my actions and finding other ways to express myself. These are complicated, loaded emotions. I come from insanely critical people who don’t always think about how their criticisms make them difficult to be around. I don’t surround myself with people who wallow in negativity because it’s just damn unpleasant. To discover that I have slipped back into old habits of showering others in negativity and am feeling good because of it is disturbing to say the least.

Yesterday at a friend’s celebration, I was talking to a running friend about how we devalue exercise. Meaning, if she teaches a Tai Kwon Do class she doesn’t count the class as exercise because it’s something she does all the time. It’s not running, so it doesn’t count. I do the same thing with my bodywork sessions, the pushup plan I’ve started, and all the little bursts of activity I do all day long. They just don’t count because they’re not hard, or they’re only hard for a few minutes. As my wife, and today my nutritionist pointed out to me, this is dumb behavior. Those activities take caloric expenditure. Discounting the activity because it no longer takes breaking a sweat to do them is doing my body a deficit because I’m not putting the calories burned back into my system. That results in under-eating, which means blood sugar crashes, leading to emotional outbursts.

And suddenly I am the bipolar patient who stops taking meds because I feel so good why do I need meds.

Got it.

Eat more.

Feel better.

Play nice.

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One response to “Cycling: HIIT it or quit it.

  1. And this is why you are, bar none, my favourite scary, negative, over-critical person: because you recognise that, despite how good you feel about it, being like that is not always okay FOR OTHER PEOPLE, and are willing to do something to ameliorate those behaviours.

    While most recognise that all emotions are okay to have, not all the things we do to express those emotions are okay to do. Saying someone should feel less angry is prima facia ridiculous, but saying that someone needs to keep their voice down as they are upsetting the kiddies in not only appropriate, but a solemn moral DUTY.

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