Earlier this summer, Ben Feigert opened my eyes to, what has since become an essential paradigm shift for me and the way I approach my workouts.
“The STRETCHY-PANTS RIDE -vs- The NON-STRETCHY-PANTS RIDE”
As a cyclist, Ben shared with me the distinction he makes between training rides and joy rides.
A ‘stretchy-pants’ ride means the odometer is turned on — measuring distance, pace, duration. Attire is chosen intentionally, to optimize efficiency and minimize drag. A stretchy-pants ride (as I understand it) begins with a purpose and ends when that objective is achieved., i.e. 40 miles or 90 minutes. Rides in this style serve to stretch capacity, create metrics and (hopefully) build confidence. I would argue, that much of the training we, as CrossFit athletes, log is in this vein. We relish stats, results, and anything that resembles a scorecard. Proof of the work we’ve put in.
But I would argue, that longevity in any sport necessitates cultivating a ‘non-stretchy-pants’ discipline as well.
The ‘non-stretchy-pants’ ride is in and of itself a joy ride; a celebration of the act of riding a bike. There is no dress code or agenda. You can wear anything from a sundress to denim shorts and a concert tee; just riding a bike because riding a bike is so damn much fun! Maybe you ride for 90 minutes, but who knows?! Because inevitably you lose track of time and scoff when the sun starts to set. It feels like you’ve only been gone for ‘like half an hour.’ Perhaps your ride does have an end point — but there is no sense of urgency when you’re joy riding to meet friends at the Farmer’s Market.
This is a clear and easy distinction to draw when it comes to biking. Most of us remember learning to ride in the summer heat, likely barefoot and totally carefree. Biking was our first taste of autonomy and liberation as an adolescent. Such is likely NOT the case for the environments in which we first tackled a CrossFit workout, so I get it. And while it might be more difficult to fathom a non-stretchy-pants WOD or run… it is possible! In fact, in reference to my own training, it has become a rich lifeline. A discipline that has both challenged and invigorated me.
So what would it look like to exercise, not as penance, but in celebration? For me, it means very intentionally NOT opening the MapMyRun app. It means cranking a show tunes playlist and reminding myself as often as necessary that I can walk at any time and turn around when I’m ready. In the gym, it generally looks like some type of an EMOM. About 20 minutes of cycling gingerly through movements that feel good in my body and make me feel happy/like a badass (read: wall balls, kettlebell swings, jump rope, DB snatches). In a class setting, it means NOT counting rounds/reps. It means choosing a different weight than my training buddy (so I cannot compare our results) and working with my back to the clock. One of the things I love most about the community at Jai is the perfectly acceptable practice of scoring the workout with a “ =) “
That is the essence of a non-stretchy-pants effort. The work gets done, you’re likely perspiring, but it’s not about anything more than that. It’s moving blood. Cultivating endorphins. Enjoying the process.
Give it a try sometime and let me know what you discover!