Since starting my training back up, I've been working to improve a weakness of mine, spinning. If you follow me, you know that I like to mash the gears, but it's just not economical, and saying I can't spin ain't gonna cut it no more. My goal is to not become a spinner, but rather just become a better spinner. Here are some observations I've made in my search to spin:
When I think I'm spinning in a gear, I shift up one more gear and that's when I'm really spinning.
I focus on keeping pressure on the pedals throughout my stroke cycle, especially between the six and twelve o'clock positions. When I do this, rather than feeling a circular pedal motion, it feels more like an elliptical motion with the top and bottom of the chain ring flattened down. It feels kinda cool.
When climbing, I tell myself to climb various degrees of strong, but not all out. If I'm successful, I should have some pep at the crest of the climb, and rather than soft pedaling the descent and the ensuing flats, I'm able to pedal with more pressure.
During hilly rides, I've learned that if I spin early on, I naturally start to mash bigger gears in the latter half of the ride, and my overall ride time significantly improves.
I'm sure this newfound focus on spinning will spare my knees and give me an additional 10 years in the sport, crossing my fingers.