The non-stop mile and a cyclocross search.

Funding. That’s what makes rocket ships work. More on that in a bit.
I ran a mile. Yay, “That’s nothing new,” you might say, “That’s what you did last post.” Yes, true; however, I tried to run a mile twice since then and succeeded two days ago. I always walked in the middle of it for a tenth or so and then ran the rest and overall ended with 1.4 miles or something but I made sure I was running for a mile of distance in that total.
Two days ago I ran a non-stop mile. In the end I was not dragging, I was not out of breath, I was just running. I did not want to see how much more there was because that wasn’t my goal. Besides, If I pressed the issue I very well could be hurt, especially since I probably looked like, to quote a coaches observation of an Olympic runner from Europe, “He’s wrestling an octopus on a treadmill!”
I am back to work in the hotel weight rooms. Not as often as I would like because my curiosities are taking me online at the desk looking at cross bikes of $500 or less in a size 58cm that nobody else is, as well as a replacement notebook computer that’s dedicated to space efficient use (tablet with digitizer and removable keyboard) that is also an extreme budget that nobody offers, but I keep searching. Suddenly I am out of time to exercise and have six hours before work.
Funding. That’s the name of the game here. I just can’t spend a grand on a decent cross bike with discs AND another grand on the best tablet PC digitizer pen combo out there (Surface Pro 3, starting at a grand with a keyboard and pen). I don’t have expendable cash with two kids in day-care and a few hundred bucks a month of non-deductable commuting costs. So, I look for a well made and light frame that’s the “old” style cantilever brakes bike for $500. It looks like the Fuji Cross is that bike. It’s got very similar geometry to the Ridley X-ride or X-bow bikes and that means it will be an aggressive ride if I wish to ride that way. It is capable and durable and, well, cheap.
I just have to find something that isn’t junk, but it looks like I will be going cross-disc another year or so down the road. Or sooner once I sell my great american novel that rivals anything John Steinbeck did but is greater because I include robots and ninjas and a cold war conspiracy-on bikes.
So the search begins for the bike, for the motivation, for another ten pounds before Sept. 1st so I can say I lost 50 in a year instead of this 40 or near that I’ve been stuck at.

I ran a mile. Wait, I did what?

In High School, I think my Junior year, I enrolled in a class called body conditioning. It was basic healthy exercise, for the most part in a weight room, learning how the muscles react to what we do. As a High School kid that only played baseball in the summer parks and recreation little-league format, I really had no idea what the body did when we exercise besides build bulk from lifting weight. Abs were not the world then like today. One of the final tests of the class involved some running.

I ran six laps in ten-minutes and fifty-one seconds. That’s a seven and a quarter minute mile for a seventeen year old that had not exercised in any way for two years, and then it was on a bike riding in to town to buy a comic book or role playing game or baseball card. I ran that by pacing the guy in front of me. I let people pass or passed people until I found someone who was in a comfortable pace that matched my stride. I had a mostly dominant leg and I pretty much floated the other leg until I pushed with the dominant one. That’s just how it worked out. I found that runners high but not until the last curve of the last lap, a sixteenth mile before the end.

I got a B. In the end I did not know how to chart progress or set up a plan of exercise in the weight room to benefit anything I was doing. My focus was elsewhere in life, not in the exercise. today things are a bit different. today I ran longer for the first time than I had since then, on purpose. I did squats, lunges, leg lifts, some planks, and seeing the bicycle machine had broken straps and the staircase in the hotel only with three stories of effective use, I decided what the heck. Let’s see how my cardio system handles a run.

Well, I’m surprised. And then I’m not. I’m able to ride with my heart rate way up there for extended periods of time but I’m so anaerobic at this point it’s not funny. I could run a 5k distance if I had to but the legs for running will need some work before I even attempt that. They will need to get used to the impacts in the knees. A ten minute mile at 2% grade says the machine. My shins are not splinting in the end and I understand a benefit exists. This will help the cycling motion and round out the muscles at play. this will also aid in lifting that leg and building the flexor strength as well as the calf and glute muscles. All necessary to climb better, as well as carry a bike up a muddy hill should I need to do that this fall.

Another thing to work on and add to the portfolio of exercise. If I were to do the full on program, I am looking at nearly two hours in the hotel fitness centers each day. I’m lucky to have that time on hand in most of my schedules. Next week I will have it, as well as an overnight at home so I get to have a SECOND ride. Hoorayyy bike!

Flexibility and climbing.

This past Thursday, I climbed three short hills, two of them quite steep, yet they were all rather short. Moving back on my seat a little bit I uncovered some extra power in the pedaling motion. The muscles used for that however were definitely not in shape for a sustained climbing effort in that way. I have been working in the hotel exercise rooms but this is hip flexor and lower abdominal areas I need to pay attention to. Picking up the leg has quite a bit of power on the pedals upward stroke, adding quite a bit of extra speed if I can endure that motion for a while. I knew I was lacking something during my bike fitting. I was checked for my range of motions. My hip flexor has huge range, however a straight leg lift does not go very far and that has direct effect on my foot going over the top of the pedal motion with power as well. I am almost at the point of needing slightly shorter crank arms, or, starting some stretching to regain more range in the legs. How far am I from what I should be? Well, do a toe touch. Bend forward and keep the legs straight. How far can you go down? Exactly. Sitting down, putting a leg out front to the side, I can reach mid shin. That is woefully short of the goal of just grazing the toe. Moving back on the saddle on the hill allowed me to really pick up on the pedal without goiing into that range limitation. I felt immediate surge in power for the climb from many more muscles doing their work and I had no endurance for that style of ride. I will now add some decent stretching to the routine, and not just for the purpose of warming up. More range of motion equals more usable power.