increasing mileage

Married to My Workout

I remember reading something in a magazine about losing weight that really stuck with me for some reason. It said “Don’t get married to your workout.” Basically this means change things up as much as possible. Don’t do the same workout every day. Try new exercises, increase the weight and resistance, change the mileage, try a different activity–anything.

When I read that article I scoffed. What I was doing was working. It worked well. I lost weight, I kept it off, I was getting stronger and faster. I was definitely getting a fitness level that I was proud of. And I liked what I was doing: I loved swimming and wasn’t going to reduce it.

In the end, I did end up changing some things around. Previously my swim sessions were 3 days a week. I was finding that I didn’t have enough time for other activities and reduced that to 2 days a week. It’s been that way for years now and as summer has arrived and I need to increase my cycling miles, I’ve reduced it to 1 day a week. But that’s not all–my swimming sessions were the same. I was most definitely married to my routine. I had three different swim routines that I liked to do and rotated between them but there wasn’t much variation beyond that. Was I doing intervals? Not as often as I should have been. What does this lead to? Plateaus.

When I first started doing a serious weight lifting program when I had to stop running for awhile, I lost weight almost immediately. In that first month I lost 5 pounds and several inches. It had been years since I lost 5 pounds in one month. In the two years I’ve been weight lifting I haven’t seen a change like that since.

I’ve been in a rut lately with my workouts. All winter long I was focusing on my weight lifting, swimming 2 days a week and going to spin class once a week. Now that the weather is better my goal is to bike to work 3 days a week. So far I’ve only managed 2 days but that’s partly weather related. Doing 66 miles a week (3 commutes) would be a major shake up to my routine. I’m looking forward to it and I won’t lie–a little part of me is hoping this change will jump start some weight loss.

When Michael was consistently biking every day to work he lost a lot of weight. Granted, he’s a man and they seem to have it easier when it comes to melting the fat, but I REALLY hope I see some movement on the scale if I’m doing 66 miles a week!

I HATE changing my workout routine! It’s so comfortable. It feels familiar. I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss by sticking to my schedule. But it’s time. I MUST change things up!

So how did I change things up recently?

Mileage, baby, mileage. In one week I was able to get my biking miles up thanks to starting the week off with a nearly 40 mile ride. The 40 mile ride was pretty good, at least for most of it and only a struggle those last 10 miles. Happily, I had no soreness the next day. It was almost as if I had done nothing!

Wednesday:

A few days later, I biked to work. I was running late that morning so I stepped it up and went faster than I normally do. I also changed up my routine a bit–I changed my route to avoid that intersection that makes me crazy every time. The new route was so much better–a tad longer, but so much better! Morning Stats: 547 calories burned.

It was a hot ride home. I was a bit sore from the previous day’s gym session but not cycling sore from my 40 miles. I had my eye on the prize: would I be able to do 80 miles this week??

I was doing well and then as soon as I hit the entrance of the Springwater trail near downtown, I heard a loud pop and then I fishtailed to the side of the trail. Yep. Tire exploded. Literally. It wasn’t quite as scary as the first time it happened, but it still sucked. Thankfully it didn’t happen downtown in traffic or somewhere I could have gotten hurt.

I pulled off into the shade and texted my Knight in Shining Armor. We are currently completely out of tubes so even if I had the savvy to change my bike tire, I didn’t have anything to change it to. Also lame.

I’d barely gone 2 miles when it happened. I was bummed. I stood in the shade and waited for Michael to pick me up. It was a disappointing ending to my day and cut my training short for the rest of the week.

Total mileage for the day cut short: 14.24

Total miles for this training week: 50.84

Total miles for the last 7 days: 73.44

Sigh! Here’s to next week being better.

QUESTION: Are you married to your workout and if so, how do you change it? Can you change a bike tire?

Preventing Cycling Injuries

If you are prone to sports injuries, there are two activities I’d suggest for you. The first would be swimming. It’s always my suggestion for people who want to lose weight but have issues (joints, knee injuries, back pain, etc) but I’m biased because I love swimming. The other alternative is cycling. Cycling is a very body-friendly activity and a good way to get fit without getting hurt.

Like most young people, I thought I was invincible. I started running with no training plans other than listening to my body and doing what I thought I could do. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but luckily had no injuries. I had a bout of bursitis in my ankle, sacrum strain and some very sore muscles, but nothing awful. But I realize now that I made the common rookie mistake: doing too many miles, too soon.  (Read 8 Mistakes I Made While Injured)

With cycling, though, the injuries are fairly limited as long as we do a few things right.  (Read Bike Buying Mistakes) Obviously follow the rules of the road, pay attention to cars around you, wear a HELMET at all times on the bike, and wear reflective clothing. Continue reading for more tips.

The first thing is crucial: get a proper bike fitting. Don’t ride a bike that isn’t right for your body. You’ll regret it (and so will your lower back) if you don’t get fitted!

Strengthen your core. Strength training is so crucial and I noticed that when I spent a good amount of time weight training that all my other sports improved tremendously. Balance in the body is key! A strong core will make those long bike rides much easier, more comfortable and you won’t be sore afterward.

Another common injury is saddle sores. I never really had this issue, even as a newbie rider, but I did have soreness. The tip to overcome this: good cycling shorts. They also make creams to put on your nether-regions before biking long miles to prevent chafing. It’s uncomfortable but they work.

The other body issues that can come up are really about tension. Is your neck and shoulders sore the day after a ride? Check your posture on the bike. Are your toes going numb? Maybe your shoes are too tight, or you need to wiggle your toes periodically while riding. Are your hands and wrists hurting? Maybe you’re gripping the handle bars too tightly. Just being aware of your body while riding can help a lot of issues.

Just like with running, you don’t want to do too many miles too soon. A friend of mine who has started biking recently asked me about the “cycling marathons” I do. 🙂 I had to laugh at that terminology. It reminded me that maybe not everyone knows that a Century means 100 miles on the bike! My friend wanted to do a Century with her friend and when I told her that meant 100 miles she was like…um, no thanks! You don’t go from biking once in awhile to completing 100 miles!

When I first started commuting to work, I did part of the route. It ended up being about 11 miles roundtrip to and from work. That was a good starting point. As I got better, as I got more comfortable and more confident on the bike, I tried biking the full route–22 miles roundtrip. It took some time. I’m glad I took it slowly and built my endurance up. This year I didn’t need to do that because I spent all winter in spin class!

Just to give you an example of a few week’s worth of mileage, here is a weekly example:

Week 1 – 10.89 miles

Week 2 -22.18 miles

Week 3 – 36.03 miles

Week 4 – 20.2 miles (spin class)

Week 5 – 44 miles

If you follow some of these tips, I think you’ll be much happier on the bike and your body will thank you!

QUESTION: What are some of your “body aches” after cycling?