By Scott Martin
Like Brussels sprouts and self-denial, intervals must be good for you because they’re so nauseating.
Did I mention that I haven’t eaten Brussels sprouts since I was young enough to think that smushing them under a pile of mashed potatoes would fool Mom into letting me have marshmallow Jell-O for dessert?
It’s been almost that long since I did intervals.
I don’t mind riding hard occasionally. Grovel in a paceline for two hours in the rain? Sure. Explore the nastiest climbs in the county? Let me at ’em. Sprint for the town-line sign that everybody misses because it’s hidden by bushes? Just call me Sneaky Pete-acchi.
But, please — don’t ask me to do 5×2 minutes with 90 seconds rest in a 53×15 at 88% of my LT followed by ascending/descending ladders starting with 1 minute on and 1 minute off at a cadence of 95 rpm while alternating….
Whew, I’m already exhausted.
The interval numbers that really bug me are 9 to 5. All that structure (and suffering) reminds me of my job, which is what I’m trying to forget when I ride my bike.
Recently, though, I’ve had a change of heart, because my heart rate hasn’t changed. My fitness is flatter than a $7.99 tire. To improve, I need more than the Tuesday Evening World Championship group ride or my “Sprint at every Popeye’s Chicken” solo efforts.
“Do intervals,” a local hotshot tells me. “You’ll see a difference in two weeks.”
Week 1’s session was last Thursday, and it hurt. Week 2 was this morning. Ditto. But, as Gloria Gaynor would say, I will survive.
Maybe I’ll reward myself with something nice for dinner. Like Brussels sprouts.
Scott Martin has been writing about cycling for more than 15 years. He worked as an editor for Bicycling magazine for 10 of them and wrote the “Scott’s Spin” column for RBR, from which this is republished. He has also covered cycling for several national magazines.