I’ve been riding on and off for just over a year now. I say on and off as I have had a couple of operations and a layoff for an injury so it hasn’t been full on in that time.
I keep asking myself am I getting any fitter? After all that’s one of the reasons I started riding again in the first place, to get fit.
But what is fitness and how can I gauge whether I am getting ‘fitter’?
When I am riding I always have trouble in the first mile or so, heart and lungs screaming and legs burning, I can usually get the breathing under control if I take it steady, especially if I am going up hill. The legs will come back to me (in other words stop burning) after a couple of miles or so, but again I may need to take it steady if I am on a longer climb.
This hasn’t really changed much since I started and I guess I may always be one of those people who struggles? After all the more I do the harder it seems to be. If I go out more than a couple of times a week my legs just can’t take it, my thighs especially take it hard and I need a couple of days or so to recover.
It’s not like I am riding long distances either. Since I started in June 2013 I have ridden 478 miles in 55 outings. 250 of those miles have been done this year, 117 of them in September alone.
But I’m still not ‘fit’ in a sense that things are getting easier or that I can breathe more easily when riding uphill.
I have come a long way though. The second ride I did back in June 2013 I managed 6 miles in just over 43 minutes, earlier this week I did 9.6 miles (around the same place just extended) in around the same time, give or take a few seconds.
Does this mean I am fitter? The fact I can go further than before in the same amount of time? There are two slight differences with the rides, the first is that I have changed bikes, from a cheap MTB (which I have since upgraded to a better one) to a road bike (which I have only ridden once). The other is that I am around 1 stone lighter than I was.
Also the first couple of times I rode I could hardly walk afterwards, now I can come home, get changed and go out without too many problems.
I can also ride further, the other day I went just over 22 miles, a distance that even at the beginning of 2014 was looking a step too far. Is this fitness or just stamina?
I’d like to think I feel ‘fitter’ I can walk further and without getting breathless, I feel generally better in myself, but am I fitter?
I don’t really know the answer and I guess until I understand ‘what is fitness’ I probably never will.