Working on control.

I left for work at 213 lbs. in socks and boxers. Not going to work wearing just that, but when I weighed myself I was….oh never mind. I will return home at 210 I know it. A full lunch bag of the finest meats, wraps and yogurts accompany me. What I need to do now is control myself in exercise. We all do. Just because we can hit huge power outputs or use huge spans of heart rate doesn’t mean doing so is beneficial. There is a point called Aerobic. I know, I know, Aerobics is all about leotards and big 80’s hair. Well they had to call it something besides ‘Jumping and bending things’ right? Working an aerobic range of the heart rate burns fat and exercises the heart training it to fill your body with oxygen much better. Moving up past that is called Anaerobic. That’s where the body stops burning fat and burns the energy in your muscles…Lactic acids result and your fat isn’t touched. ‘Feel the Burn!’ said the big 80’s hair girl. Basically, If I want endurance and power outputs that last and recharge and recover quickly, I need to stay in the Aerobic range and lightly sprinkle with intervals of high intensity. Train the body to deliver the blood better. Train it to recover faster between intervals. It’s all good. It all takes some discipline.

So controlling myself. I’t almost forcing ‘slow and steady’ as the way instead of getting the most work done as possible for this session. Slow and steady will improve long term power on the bike. It will improve the cardio fitness. It apparently will show bigger gains instead of going hard. We shall see as I work this angle of the program.

I have also sent out two emails to see if there’s a coach that deals in amateur people that can help the program work around my limiting schedule. Maximizing my time with whatever equipment on hand. Elipticals with strides for midgets really do not work for me…but if that’s all I have then I’ll have to do something. We’ll see what organization I can come up with.


Back on the horse. Recovery.

MSP bike

Today’s victim is a TRUE stationary bike with, of course, the pedal straps missing from both sides. Again. My back took 9 days to get better. I really think it was either a light sprain or a severe muscle pull. By day 7 I was moving some things around the house in a sort of “light duty” mode. I bought a budget set of replacement wheels to replace the well used mis-matched set on the bike. Truly, this old set of wheels will be the permanent trainer indoor set. I mounted the new rear tire and brought the bike inside and put it on the trainer. Just making sure it worked I climbed on and just spun a little bit. I could feel my back stretch out some and it wasn’t uncomfortable. I had other things to do and went to work the next day. At this point I had sore muscles. I was completely able to hoist my luggage into the overhead compartment and move my flight case around easily without pain but leaning over in a twist brings the soreness back in a position specific case. Arriving at my next overnight in Minneapolis, I stretched out on the floor, lightly twisting my back a bit to get a sense of where I am. Everything was good with zero pain. I moved next to the squats and then side lunges and then forward lunges. Everything was really going well so I got on the “bike”. Now, I have to calm myself down so I don’t over do things and get hurt again. I brought my heart rate monitor with me on this weeks trip to make sure the machines I used were accurate. I capped my heart rate at 150 and kept rpm’s up over 90 and I went as long as I felt good. Well It went just fine. I did an hour. I ran the hill interval program to whatever level that keeps me at 150 max and After that time I felt good. On the rest parts of the intervals I sat up and took a drink and felt my back stretch a bit but no pain. Just easy time. So I feel good again. 19 days after the 34 mile ride, I still feel like i’m starting from backwards. Until I can get more time in and see the cardio performance grow I won’t see any progress. The good news is that even after doing nothing and eating good food and ice cream, I seem to have lost a pound or two so my goal for the end of January will be to see myself under 210 lbs on all scales used. February can be a very good month for me.

The new set of wheels I will review soon, once I am able to actually ride them. They also have a new rear cassette with a wider gear spread. I wanted something to just pop on and go.


Beyond ouch.

backpainshoveling snow I suppose was easy. I must have lifted something wrong after that because I’m beyond simple pains. It’s hard to get out of a chair or turn over in bed. I am off the bike and trainer for probably a week. I want to try just a light spin on Tuesday, just to get a light heart-rate but honestly the reality is, I’m not gonna do it. This all happens right when we make a 10,000 calorie gallon of Ice cream in the Christmas present the wife got me, and the wife makes chocolate peanut-butter cup cookies today. There was pizza involved in the crime. Hopefully this will all resolve itself soon. (Photo: WebMD…this is NOT me)

Training with terrible equipment…for the traveller.

I spend several days a week in different hotels for work. I fly to a new city every day and get to a hotel and I am confronted with this:

20131017_203912 The big momma seat. I’m not overweight. in fact the only way that this seat can be useful at all is if someoe actually needs a seat this big to support all of them while they cycle to health. I have no problem with that, but to get any kind of exercise, I need to be on it for a good while and honestly after thirty minutes, my legs hurt because of this seat. the top part of my hamstrings ached from trying to work around the giant curves. It wasn’t very soft either. That is really inconsequential compared to other issues of the equipment.

20140107_181939 This is a typical scene at half of the hotels I stay at. A recumbent. Eh, it’s what i have to work with. The seat moves back and forth back and forth back and forth and if i’m lucky the handles by my seat actually read my heart rate. I wonder why the handles up forward cant do that too. On another note there is usually a Tv attached to these things now. Being upright or recumbed (nice huh?) there is always a big challenge getting it to work right. Pedal first so it turns on, then choose a mode or go full manual. I choose n interval routine and it asks for all kinds of personal data. My weight, age, time duration, and then I drop my towel, stop pedaling to pick it up and that caused it to shut down and restart and I put in all of my information again. Blah!

20140107_181921 this wouldn’t be so bad really, I just have to not drop my towel. But then there’s the strap issue. 80% of all exercise bikes I use in hotels are missing the foot straps, or they’re broken so one pedal has a strap or they’re flopping on one end and in the way of the machine on each stroke. Regardless, this quite sucks. At least I could work on one-leg pedaling drills for upstrokes. nope. I have to spend more time training by mashing down on pedals now. I wonder if it’s a waste really when on a recumbent and missing straps. this is just general condition of equipment. If I were in nicer hotels, this wouldn’t happen. The average middle hotel thinks everyone wants an elliptical or treadmill experience. The bike in most cases is thrown in just to appease people….some places just have elliptical and tread-mils. The bike machine in Washington DC wont tell me my heart rate…I must be dead inside when I go there. As well as a host of other broken down decreped or poorly sized and designed machines to begin with. I am suffering through these to gain some kind of benefits.

At this point I am seriously considering a trainer consultation. All of the books and magazines with fitness programs to follow seem to base themselves on the reader having a 9-5 job or at least a steady regular schedule with weekends off with regularity where you can actually do these plans. I do not. I can’t ever have that in my career. I go out for 4-5 nights a week, come home for 3 days average then back out again. If I’m lucky I can get 2 rides on a real bike while I’m at home. But, a perfect week for me would be 3 sessions at work hotels and twice on the bike at home with 2 rest days a week. I need to know what machine to pick depending on what they have available and what to eat before and after using those pieces based on how much sleep I got the night before…sometimes I don’t sleep too well in the wrong time-zones and beds. I truly don’t know where I’m at in a routine except that whatever I do, I do a lot of lunges holding free-weights to do more legwork and then if I have to, an elliptical or a bike. I would say 100% that one of those things is in the hotel, but using them for max effect is a problem with the variable schedules and sleeps.

State of the union and goal potential.

weightpicjan514See here? this is the new year. This is the scale in a hotel in Hartford, CT. I started back in September 1, 2013 at the purple tab. That was roughly 240 lbs. Being six-foot-three I have always carried weight well but at that point it was spilling over into my face…and over my waistband into the lower part of my shirt. I was starting to mufin out pretty good. From Thanksgiving to the new year it was a difficult time with the affore posted illness and schedule and temperature issues but I still managed to get another five pounds out of it to show, today, what the scale says is 215 lbs !! I am happy but I know that my performance on the bike is still woefully lacking especially if I want to be somewhat near average or better by spring. Just as an idea, If I were to be competitive next fall in the cyclocross season, I would expect to not be any lighter than the orange tab of 180 lbs.  That would be an optimum race weight for me if I were to seriously dedicate myself to this. As another idea, the yellow tab shows what a Tour De France athlete weighs in at with my height. (anywhere from 155-170 for the talls.) Also know that they have a negative body fat number and genetically unbelievable unicorn magic in their veins.

A TdF end-game is not my goal. I will never be that. There are a lot of people who want to be that and delusion themselves into elitism behavior based on their multi-fonted jersey collection somehow equaling their greatness. I, on the other hand want to have the best performance I can have and let that speak for how good or awful I am. Either way I am happy with that as long as I get to enjoy riding and making friends as well as letting my competitive self out of the travel bag once in a while.

180 pounds. I was once 180 pounds. I didn’t do so well in college my first year and the punishment was to work in Alaska cutting and packing fish for a month on third shift (8pm to noon). No matter what I ate, I lost weight. Four meals a day including peanut-butter smeared stacks of pancakes and rice and various meats and what not. I still lost weight working 16 hour days. Returning home i was 180 pounds. I didn’t have any real muscle on me and I had no idea of what body fat I wore but that’s what I remember. I don’t remember abs or quads or anything. I mostly remember minor carpel-tunnel and a very sore back for the next month or two. I could see that weight again if I really work hard at the nutrition and muscle building in the right areas. I will also see a lot of changes in breathing ability and power output as my legs won’t be trying to move my fat out of the way. I have already noticed when i’m in the handlebar drops that an extended hard interval yields my legs in the way of my breathing….my stomach was sort of in the way. Now, not so much and I can stay in the drops for longer. Another note: I read an eye-opening article online about how much of a difference weight makes in climbing a hill. Assuming two riders have identical wattage outputs and bikes and aero, there will be a 6 second difference for every pound heavier the other rider is for a twenty minute climb. The example was rider 1: is 160 pounds and climbs a 7% grade in 20 minutes, rider 2 is 180 pounds and will finish the climb 2 minutes behind given all other things being equal. This also makes a difference in cruise speed on flat ground in reducing slight rolling resistance but also improves aerodynamics as the fat me isn’t being pushed anymore.

We shall see what January brings as I hit it hard this month in the hotels and on the trainer at home. I’m also trying to start the box jumps with the current routine when there’s enough room in the hotel facility so  my big head isn’t hitting the ceiling.

34 miles. 53mph. 190bpm. This is just a start.

December 31st. The second ride of the month of December. (see previous post about the travesties of the month) My goal was to do a 30 mile day. I had come close on two occasions before time ran out but I had the time I needed and the weather was gorgeous although a bit windy. I try to never use the lowest chain ring “bailout” gear as a matter of principal…it tells me I need to work harder at my goals and with the headwind of probably 10 mph or more I found myself dipping into that gear a few times. I didn’t like it but today just to get somewhere it was necessary.Anyway I rode out along the usual route I take  before branching off to the next town over, Lyons. It was flooded really bad this fall and this was the first time I would get a good look at it since the roads were open again. I fought the wind all the way out, this was a good resistance to keep my heart rate in a specific target. 160 is a good place to work it with occasional 170+ ranges seen. I was punishing away for probably 15 minutes or so before I arrived in town. Turning around with the wind I was moving at nearly 30 mph the other way. This tailwind was going to really help a lot of people riding eastbound today! I cut up highway route 36 and found what climbing ability I lack. You will never know until you really try to find that efficient location and pedal use. I ran out of energy looking for that and I was not mashing along. I was trying to get it right.

This is the fun part. I turned off 36 to an eastbound road that started with a downhill. I geared up resting my muscles used in the climb for a bit an the speed was wonderful…”Hmm, I think this would be a nice time to see just how fast I can go here…” I thought. I started into it, I got up out of the saddle and started to spin throwing everything into it, I sat down once the leverage was no longer there with the speed and pedal cadence. I sat down and my legs were so fast I was bouncing a bit off the seat, I couldn’t spin any faster and the bike was now faster than the gearing I could turn. I just enjoyed the coasting at speed. (It turned out once I uploaded the GPS data, I was just under 53mph for 40 seconds and a cadence of 120+ for that time. This is also where my heart rate peaked at 190bpm.) An aluminum frame and wheels do not seem to take well to quick road undulations but if I were on a carbon frame, I would not be able to guarantee it’s soundness after that. After all I’m still over 210 pounds.

After that stretch of road, It was now time to put on the miles instead of explore and ride new roads like I’ve been dong for this first hour. It was cool. I had legwarmers on but had definitely warmed up enough to question keeping them on; however, once a gust of wind hit me I knew they served a good purpose. I had not been drinking enough. My first water bottle was cheap and the top didn’t stay open easily to where it would close when put into the mouth. Using teeth, trying to squirt it in, it just all turned into a numbed dentist experience with stuff falling out everywhere. I survived and worked that bottle and my second bottle but I fell behind in hydration and started to feel it nearing 25 miles. I ate a cliff bar and worked the rest of the fluids a bit and relaxed some. Once I felt better I put the hammer down on a stretch of road near home that STRAVA has as a timed segment. 3rd overall out of 25 or something like that. I don’t feel too bad. It’s something within reach. I just have to find 4 seconds more and I can get King of the Mountain.

I have been noticing that my peak heart rate is touching 191-192 beats. this is not normal for a 40 year old. Mathematically my peak should be 180, but honestly there is no real hard set rule. I just know that I am slightly above normal in my peak. Some people just have that bit more and some are normal and some are lower. It’s all person specific and might not mean much, but I do have that bit of head room. Because of that, If I were to really get down to serious training, I would need to get a max heart rate and V02 max test to align training efforts to what my abilities are and not over do or under do anything and get hurt. Once I do that, I can get down to business on the trainer indoors and in the hotels to really work the cardio engine.

December. Mismatching the days and health.

All of December was a period of warm days and super cold days and work days. Let’s not forget the sick days. If I was at work, it was sunny and 60 at home in Colorado. If I was home, it was crazy windy or 5 degrees or both! A week in the middle had a sick family. the day I was to ride coming home from work, I had to go pick up the little one from school and the next day she as not well so while the wife worked, I missed riding to take care of her. I did not have a problem with that. How could I pass up the relaxing and rare moments of coloring. I’m serious.

So, given the deplorable conditions of the equipment in various hotels, and sometimes the complete lack of time to even do any exercise on some of those days, I was not making any progress in the physical cardio machine. I rode my bike twice and rode on the trainer once. The other sessions of exercise were in hotels. I may never get that pedal stroke close to continuously circular at this rate. December illness and schedule was not working together.

I did loose 5 pounds somehow in all that even with the holiday cookies. 213 says my bathroom scale. I did think a lot about the next steps and plans on how to get there.