By Yusef Logan, fitness and track cycling enthusiast
During high school I dealt with back-to-back knee injuries my sophomore and junior year while playing football. It was a difficult time for me, because I greatly wanted to be a successful athlete, but I struggled to find my right place. After my last knee surgery, I went through a period of severe depression and became addicted to the painkillers I was prescribed. I was young at the time, and didn’t fully understand what I was going through, and I was eventually able to overcome my addiction and depression going into my senior year.
I had put on a fair amount of weight by my senior year, increasingly becoming more obese. I had been a bigger guy for a while, and it was getting difficult for me to change. A close relationship with a cousin provided me with a great support system, and with it the ability to build my confidence and work towards becoming more fit. By the end of my senior year I had lost around 70 lb. & was accepted into college!
In my head, I thought that losing weight would solve all my problems and give me the resolve I wanted, but I was wrong. While in college I dealt with many internal issues that went further back than just high school, and greatly struggled to find my “purpose" or point of passion. I spent a lot of time in self-reflection and just outright “getting my mind right”. When a lot of people think of college, I’m sure they think of fun times, enjoyment, prime years etc., some of which I did definitely enjoy, but much of my time was spent searching for a niche.
One day in class, my professor mentioned how she'd gotten into cycling due to some knee issues that had kept her from running as much as she wanted, and it caught my intention. I started cycling indoors and outdoors, and found that it actually helped my knees while helping me get more fit! I started reading more about cycling and cyclists, and eventually learned about track cycling. It was almost a love at first sight type of thing, because I immediately started training for it as soon as I read about it! I was so invested in it that I was even looking up competitive cyclist’s weight so that I could set a benchmark for myself, fitness wise. Going into cycling, the most important part of the sport to me is being fit for it. I incorporate a lot of unorthodox cross-training that I believe will help be as competitive as possible, such as kettlebell swings, hill/stair runs, and even skiing!
Even if competitive cycling isn’t someone’s personal goal, I’d still recommend cycling as a great way to get aerobic activity in their day and stay active. Combined with resistance training and other forms of aerobic exercise such as running or swimming, cycling is a great way to improve fitness!