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How Flywheel helped me achieve my marathon goals

By August 27, 2014 No Comments


Written by Flywheel Chicago instructor, Kyla Barbour

I was first introduced to Flywheel in November 2011. After a 45-minute sweat session with Donna Cennamano, I knew this would be my new “go to” for daily workouts. What I didn’t know was that this class would become my new way of training for the marathon races I am known to casually sign up for.

My friends and family would label me as a runner. I started running at age 13 when I realized I was too small to play basketball, but quick enough to keep up with boys! I was blessed with a talent that led to a successful career in high school and eventually, a full college scholarship. Now, at 36-years-old, I am still running (pretty quickly)!

After college, I decided to transition to running marathons. Until I became a frequent rider in the Flywheel stadium, my daily exercise was running. Like most traditional marathoners, I would log in heavy miles throughout the week and long runs on the weekend, only to find myself fatigued and achy for the next week of training. I loved to run, but at some point I felt that my body wouldn’t be able to keep up with this level of fitness. Inevitably, I would need to slow down and not set such lofty goals. Little did I know that Flywheel would prove me wrong.

It only took one ride at Flywheel to keep me coming back for more. About three months after that first ride, I found myself sitting on the instructor bike rockin’ my very own class! I initially started teaching two to four classes a week quickly transitioned to almost 11 classes during some weeks. Teaching all those classes left me little time to be on the roads, in addition to the crazy weather we have in Chicago! To be honest, I not only enjoyed being on the bike more, but I also noticed positive changes. I no longer felt fatigued. I experienced less nagging aches and pains and I actually noticed I had muscle tone in my core and upper body that I didn’t have when I was running 50-70 miles a week! Regardless of my inability to log in those running miles, I still wanted to test my fitness on the road and continue running marathons.

I’m not going to lie when I tell you that I was extremely nervous to get on the starting line of the 2012 Chicago marathon. My longest run had only been 13 miles. I was running maybe two to three times a week, spending the majority of my time in the Flywheel stadium. Everyone thought I was crazy to believe that I could I run 26.2 miles, and also to achieve my goal of breaking three hours! To their surprise (and mine), I ran 2:52:31 and placed 30th for the women. A month later I turned around to run the Kansas City Endurance Challenge Marathon and won the woman’s division, running a 2:51:36 on a very hilly course! I was only 40 seconds off of my all-time best personal record, training 60 miles a week on the roads. I knew at that point it was the back-to-back classes at Flywheel that attributed to my running success.

From that point on I began to instruct my Flywheel runners to take advantage of the benefits you get in the stadium that compliment running on the roads. While I don’t expect everyone to drop their routine and follow my lead, I encourage those runners to see the advantages of what a Flywheel ride can do for their running. The interval training alone in the stadium builds strength in those muscles we runners often neglect. Those muscles aid in building speed and strength especially when it comes to running hills. Riding in back-to-back Fly classes is great to “simulate” a long run for those people who find themselves getting injured every time they increase their mileage to meet the demands of distance running. Being on the bike takes away that impact and allows the body to continue conditioning and building strength without all the wear and tear. In the end, if you are pushing your threshold, using proper form, and consistently hitting the stadium at Flywheel, your body will be in great shape on and off the road.

In May of this year I received the news that I was going to have a baby January 2015. I actually ran the Boston Marathon just a month before and probably had the most challenging races of my career … now I know why! So for the rest of 2014, you all will definitely find me in the stadium, not as frequently, and if I’m on the road, it will be more of a “shuffle” than my usual 6:30 pace. However, once the baby comes you all better believe I’ll be back riding in the stadium and ready for the Chicago Marathon 2015!



Where do I begin when it comes to jamming’ on the bike or running a race!?!?! Here’s my latest playlist.

Read about how Flywheel Texas instructor Lynn Howard trained for the Tour de France by hitting the stadium and turning up the torq.