I’ve finally started doing more cycling. From the comfort of my own lounge room. In summary, it’s an online “game” called Zwift which uses the data from your own bike trainer and sensors to move an animated you around an island called Watopia. People from all over the world log in whenever. Or you can prearrange a time to meet friends for a group ride. It costs $10 USD per month but if it means I’m riding my bike, then it’s worth it.
Let’s face it – where else will I ever get to wear a green sprinter’s jersey??? (Either I’m Lightning McQueen over a 400m distance, or there aren’t many females using Zwift yet at the times that I’ve been online.)
These are some of the reasons I enjoy using Zwift.
- It’s easy to get caught up in the “race” to not let the person behind catch you (and you don’t have to look over your shoulder to see them), or to catch the person in front of you, or see how long you can draft off someone.
- I work harder in this game than I do on the road. I think it’s because I don’t have to worry about traffic, potholes, magpies etc. Or being stranded too far from home if I absolutely run out of puff. I can give it all I’ve got.
- I also work harder in Zwift than I do just cycling on my trainer because if I stop pedalling or slow down, the animated character on screen unclips or sips her drink. It’s a visual reminder that I’ve lost focus whereas on the trainer I find I just drift off and then realise I’ve stopped pedalling and have no idea how long I’ve been off with the fairies.
- King/Queen of the mountain, green jerseys, yellow jerseys, this game has it all – instant updates and comparisons of PBs on some segments (don’t have to wait for strava upload 🙂 )
- Group rides are great – it’s not often I get to feel like I can keep up with everyone else. It does wonders for the self esteem. I don’t have to know whether they’re slacking off, I can imagine that they’re sweating and panting as much as I am!
- The graphics are great, the concept is even better. Seeing where the many different riders online are from (country) and seeing messages flying in French or Spanish makes you feel like you’re part of something so much bigger than just my lounge room.
- No cars
- No helmets
- No crashes (and even if someone cuts you off you just go through them like a hologram)
- Fast looking bikes and snazzy cycling clothing
- Cycling with dolphins, sting rays, whales – where else can you cycle under the ocean?
- Estimated calories burned are counted as a number of pizza slices!
- It’s the best excuse for playing computer games and not feeling guilty.
- It makes me feel like a real cyclist.
In an hour online it’ll go from day to night with beautiful sunrises, long shadows and spectacular scenery.
My coach told me that getting my cycling done will also help my running. She might be onto something there.
In my previous post (late February), I wrote that “I haven’t run a 30min 5km yet and don’t seem to be getting any closer but my training has been rather erratic.”
I realised today that I haven’t skipped a session on my training program since 3rd March! That’s a whole month with all planned training completed. If only I was that dedicated to my food intake.
Recently, 1km intervals were added to my program – to be done weekly. 6 x 1km run at effort (preferably sub 6:00 pace) with a 2 minute complete rest/stop between each one.
The first time I attempted this, I managed sub 6:00 for one of the six only (5:51 – a new PB). The second time, I had two under 6 minutes. Last weekend had a huge training load due to the public holidays and being able to get some longer sets in. I managed a 10km run/walk (planned 8 minute run/1 minute walk repeated for the whole distance) and averaged 7:10 pace even with the walks. I was over the moon with this. I had another 1km interval set two and FOUR of them were under 6 minutes! A 5:59, 5:47 (new 1km PB), 5:57 and 5:58. The other two were 6:34 and 6:19 – not too shabby either. Considering the first two were done in the dark with a headlamp on unfamiliar paths near my parents’ house, I was thrilled.
10km with beautiful coastal scenery
That’s me in the light blue being overtaken by a huge pack of cyclists on Zwift. Would completely freak me out in real life but was strangely pretty cool at the time.
On Easter Saturday I was up at 4.30am to drive 1.5 hours to the nearest parkrun which had a 7.00am start! I was also catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
Yesterday was another big day – 45 minutes on the bike (which I did on Zwift) then a 10km run. My plan for this was to run the 5km from home to parkrun, then have a few minutes rest during the briefings and continue with the second 5km. The second 5km was much slower than the first because THIS happened quite unexpectedly!
So, I STILL haven’t run 5km in under 30 minutes but it’s getting closer! This was almost two minutes faster than my previous 5km PB of 32:28 which I ran in December 2014. I hadn’t even gone out with the intention of going hard or getting a PB, I was just running. The last 500m was tough but I’d seen how close I was to a PB so pushed on. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left in the tank for the second 5km so I walked a lot, chatted with other parkrunners and did a leisurely 38 minutes. It doesn’t seem that long ago that 38 minutes would have been a fast 5km for me. It’s odd how our perspective changes over time.
More zwift screenshots – because I can.
Cycling related architecture
Spot the whale?
And the dolphins?
The creators have an incredible imagination. Wonder if they could develop Zwimt for swimming from the comfort of home?
I’m enjoying being on my bike again. (And swimming and running, so that’s got to be good for my triathlon pursuits!)
What’s next? A three-hour intensive swim training session with Effortless Swimming at the end of April, a triathlon in May, a holiday to Broome in June, Sutherland to Surf (11km) in July, Dubbo Stampede in August and the Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon in September (we run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge – I’m reasonably certain I’ll be stopping for a selfie!). So much for my year of spending more time at home. And in amongst all of this, I am determined to shed my excess weight. Imagine how fast I could run if my legs had 5-10 fewer kilograms to cart around!
Is there a gadget or training technique/tool that has reignited your enthusiasm?