Sunday, February 10, 2013
So I must confess; I haven't ridden my bike since September.
No it wasn't the weather (winter is always like a perpetual spring here in the Florida panhandle), it's not like I was too busy (I am, but I've never let that keep me from working out), and it's not that I don't like cycling, I love it.
But I hate flats....with a passion, I...hate....getting....flats!
Last fall, I averaged 1 to 2 flats per ride! It sucked big time. They've got these stupid prickle bushes that bloom around August and they just attacked my tires with a vengeance.
So I sat out these last few months, lifting weights at the gym and doing my cardio in spin classes and on stationary bikes. But I've been itching to get going again....and besides SWMBO gave me a kick in the pants.
Here's how my brain tackled the problem.
"Hmmm, it's a pain in the ass to get the road bike out there, I keep getting flats and it's ruining my mojo. Hey, I like spinning on some of these stationary bikes at the gym, maybe I'll buy me one. Hmmmm, the one I like is about $1800.....sure I can get that. No, SWMBO will kill me, it's more than the love seat she bought that I gave her a hard time about"
"Hey maybe, I can get that trainer I researched a while back! I can put it on the back patio and spin like crazy watching the dolphins and pelicans!"
Here's how my conversation with SWMBO went last weekend:
ME: Hey I'm going to get this really cool magnetic trainer so I can get back into riding
SWMBO: Magnetic what? Why?
ME: It's pretty cool....AND MUCH CHEAPER THAN THAT SPIN BIKE I WANTED (wink, wink!)
SWMBO: Why do you need this again?
ME: It's pretty cool, I can put it on the back patio, mount the rear wheel of my bike on it, and I can spin like crazy on my own bike! AND ITS MUCH CHEAPER THAN THAT SPIN BIKE I WANTED (wink, wink!)
SWMBO: How much is this thing again?
ME: It's pretty cool.....about $340 on Amazon.....free delivery!
SWMBO: 340 buck so you can ride your bike on the patio? Why don't you just get new tires and ride your bike on the road......LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO!
ME: Ummm.....well.....yeah but this way I could ride even if it's raining out.
SWMBO: How much are new tires?
ME: About $80....for a pair of good ones.
At this point SWMBO goes silent and just gives me that look signifying, "Do we really need to be having this conversation?"
So I ordered me up a pair of Kevlar reinforced Continental Gatorskins, hardened with a synthetic diamond coating (not really, I made that up). I had a pair of these before, but I've ridden them hard for about 3 years, so yeah, it was time to replace them. They came in last Thursday, I put them on yesterday, then cleaned and tightened up my sweet, sweet Trek 2200
I decided to test out how my spin playlist translates onto a real ride on a real bike.....not so good, it's about fifty/fifty. The fast songs are good on the flats, but I can't always time the hill climbs to real hills here....besides, this is Ft Walton Beach, FL....I am at sea level on the sea.....hardly a hill to be had for miles.
I have noticed, however, that 6 months of squats & deadlifts have done wonders for my riding. I'm trying to find my new sweet spot between cadence vs speed. I had some very good stretches where I was able to sustain 18-20 MPH at 90 RPM on a flat road for a good long while. My goal is to be able to sustain that pace and cadence for about an hour comfortably.
The only bad thing was the wind....it was blowing up a storm here today. And I'm pretty convinced that, contrary to popular Spanish folklore, the name Florida is not derived from Juan Ponce de Leon's exclamation of how "Flowery" this land was. No, I'm pretty convinced that Florida is an old Indian Seminole word for "Wind Always Blows in your Face!"
It didn't matter what direction I was going in, I had a headwind at every turn!
But, it's February, and while my mom is snowed in in Boston, I have an opportunity to ride my bike outdoors.....can't be all that bad! And besides, I rode for 90 minutes without a flat!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Sunday, February 03, 2013
So in my never-ending quest to balance diet, strength training, and cardio, I came upon an interesting fitness realization.
I've been doing variations of HIIT (Hi-Intensity Interval Training) for a while now, but somehow in the back of my mind, I've felt guilty about not doing longer, slower cardio to burn off more calories.
But the other day, reading some articles by Mark Rippetoe (most famous for his well-written "Starting Strength" book) it hit me.....sprinters have more muscle than marathoners
Now I've done my fair share of marathons and enjoyed the experience of training on long, slow runs, getting ready for the big 26.2. And believe me, even though I slimmed down in my running days, I was never an ectomorph.
Since switching to cycling and getting serious about strength training, I've seen the value of adding muscle while losing fat. Now, as I look to drop these last pesky 10 lbs, I want them all to be fat pounds, not muscle pounds.
As I planned out my February/March riding (I just ordered new tires and will be dropping my bike to the shop for a well-deserved tune-up and re-cabling), I debated about training for a century (100 mile ride) this spring, figuring it would do nothing but help me drop those 10 lbs of fat.
Well not so fast, or rather, yes, I need to train fast....and hard.....but for shorter durations.
Maybe I need to train for some time trials!
(Not really....when I priced out a time trial bike, that idea went out the window!)
Intensity matters.....it just makes for a much tougher workout, albeit for a shorter period of time....but those short periods of time do seem like an eternity.
But what better way to prepare for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse! Would you rather be fast & strong, or lean with lots of endurance/
Who do you want to be when the undead rise, hungry and looking for brains?!?!?!
(Hint, you'll need some upper body strength to wield that 9-iron into the soft spot of their frontal lobes!)
Have a great night Spark friends!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
So my first meeting today started at 7:30 AM. They were actually a series of working meetings, which I much prefer to the "sit back and listen to this presentation" type. Still, we were at it pretty hardcore for the next 9 hours.
Then a bunch of my colleagues wanted to hit this BBQ joint for dinner. I told them OK, but I had to hit the gym first, so we agreed to dinner at 7:30.
I lifted yesterday after landing, so today was cardio. I found a lone spin bike in the over-crowded gym here. It had an interesting set-up, with a big video screen that you could adjust to show you either a) bucolic scenes of winding roads, b) an effeminate male instructor urging you to "pedal faster", and c) A readout of all your vitals (heart rate, cadence, calories, etc)
I went with C!
For the last few weeks, I have been tweaking my "Hard Interval Cardio" playlist. It's not an HIIT workout (i.e. short bursts of all out sprinting interspersed with 60-90 second breaks), instead I wanted something that I could sustain for about an hour that has alternating hard hill climbs and sustained sprints.
I downloaded a pretty cool library of kitschy workout music free from Amazon (see blog: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5197809 ) and I've been messing with my playlist to the point where I've finally got warmup, hard climbs, flat road sprints, and rest breaks all alternatingly built in just right for a good 60 minutes.
And today it paid off! I really like having audio cues to kick in that guide the workout. It helps not having to keep looking at my watch. When a particular tune comes on, I kick it up a notch or relax as needed. Hey, it works for me.
I then tackled the Nike Training Club's "Ab Burner" workout, the one that kicked my ass last week. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Well, I can't say yet that I kicked its ass, but after adding abs back into my routine (I've done this 15-minute ab workout 4 times since the 20th), it was decidedly easier. If there is any consolation to this tale it's that we can get back in shape quickly once we've built a good foundation. But those first few tries are rough!
The last piece of trivial knowledge I feel compelled to share with my SP friends is the coolest so far!
Don't know if any of you is troubled by your gym gear getting a little "stale" after repeated use to the point where even after a good washing they're never quite as good as new.
Well I do, and I have some favorite shirts that need constant washing and SWMBO is on the point of revolting, threatening to stop doing my laundry! Yes I know I could go buy some more, but I REALLY LIKE THESE SHIRTS!
So last weekend this buddy of mine was telling me of his deer hunting adventures (he has totally bad luck out there, but every now and then he bags me a few lbs of fresh venison)
He starts telling me how he washed all his clothes the night before in some Gucci new deer hunting detergent to get rid of the human smell (deer have very sensitive noses) and that leaves no UV reflecting light (they also have great eyesight into the UV range)
I ask him to tell me more about this magic elixer and he claims that it is super-charged stuff that gets rid of every possible trace of human scent...."even a bloodhound couldn't track you!" he tells me (not sure what he meant by that, but I tried not to take it personally)
It's called....wait for it.....Scent-A-Way!
Intrigued, I called up the local Bass Pro Shop and sure enough they had some in stock. So before flying up to Virginia this weekend, I gathered up everything in my workout clothes drawer (yes I have a "workout clothes drawer") and emptied about a half gallon of this stuff into the washer.
So far so good! So far pretty incredibly good! My fave shirt has survived 2 solid workouts this trip and is in perfectly clean smelling shape for a 3rd one tomorrow before I fly back home.
More to follow....now if I can just find something to get that cat smell out of the catbox!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Friday, January 25, 2013
So here's an interesting insight I had into myself today....I look forward to my Strength Training workouts all week....until I actually get to the gym!
Three times this week, as I changed in the locker room before hitting the weights, I had this nagging voice saying, "Oh man, this is going to hurt today" and I wanted to think of an excuse to not go in.
I don't experience this at all on cardio days, even when I know I'm going into a tough session, either on my own or in an advanced spin class, or a scheduled HIIT day, I am digging every minute of it (well almost every minute.....HIIT days are pretty tough too!)
And I look forward to my ST days as well...except for the 30 minutes from when I change my clothes and go into the weight room. I think it's mostly due to the fact that I'm at my limits for most all of the lifts I'm doing, gains are very incremental, adding maybe 5 lbs every 2 weeks as I increase my reps.
One of my new pictures on my SP page says, "It never gets easier, you just get stronger" captures my current ST regimen. The pain, the strain, the effort, call it what you will, is the same every workout. You get stronger and are able to lift more, build more muscle, lose fat, gain definition....but it takes work....mostly physical....all mental!
So maybe that's why some part of my brain wants to stop, drop, and roll when I know what I'm about to go through in there.
The workouts are tough, and that's why I work out with a trainer, because I really don't think I would do as much, as hard as I do, on my own.
Today for example we moved up on squats. 240 lbs, 4 sets of 5 repetitions...after 3 sets warming up with lower weights. Then 4 sets of deadlifts....5 reps with 280 lbs (I do find these "easier" than the squats), then......
This is where Stasi-trained trainer guy earned his pay. He spotted me well, took just enough pressure off the bar when I stalled, then had me repeat when I thought I was out of Schlitz.
It's slow, it is painful.....but when it's done, I find myself already thinking about how great the next ST session is going to be, and how cool it'll be to do so many of this and that exercise, and man look at how great my arms are looking!
So what's my point? None really, it's just a personal observation I need to say out loud about myself, recognizing that I've got little voices that want me to quit, that don't want to exert or feel strain or pain or discomfort.....I need to know that they are always there and be mindful that it could be real easy to give in and let them have their way, keeping me from feeling discomfort.....and keeping me from getting where I want to be!
I never regret working out....but I always regret NOT working out!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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