Let’s Get Serious

Okay, I’m starting to get a little nervous about the Century ride. It’s about 3 weeks away and I feel like my training has not quite been what it should have been. In the past, Michael and I spent most of our weekends doing the 40 mile loop, or trying to get in a 50 mile bike ride. That plan seems to have been thwarted this year. I am biking to work much more than I ever did last year, so that’s something. We’ve just had things come up to prevent us from being consistent. Michael recently had the flu and was not up for going on a long ride, and then the weather got in the way, and then my bike tire exploded… Hence, my worry.

Sunday –

Sunday morning I planned on going for about a 20-30 mile ride. It was most likely going to be solo because Michael was still feeling under the weather. Even though I was nervous about biking alone after my bike tire incident, I was ready to do it. It had to be done. I woke up that morning to rain. Seriously? In the middle of July?! The day after a gorgeous, clear summer day? So not fair. I headed to the pool instead, angry at the weather for getting in the way, and of course when I was done in the pool it was clear skies and sunshine.

I decided to just do it. I got on my bike after lunch and went for a short ride–something was better than nothing. The skies still looked a bit iffy in one direction so I decided I would ride in our neighborhood. My training ride ended up being all hills. There was one hill that in the past would kill me and leave me delirious from fatigue and heavy breathing. I was SO happy when I rode up that hill without too much issue this time! Conquering that huge hill made me feel confident and happy! Like I said, it was a short ride but all hills so that was definitely a good way to practice for the event.

Time: 41:49
Calories Burned: 381
Distance: 9 miles

When I got home from my ride, we made dinner together–lettuce from my garden, grilled chicken sliced on top with avocado and croutons. Michael also made queso from scratch (he gets the weirdest cravings sometimes) and I had some queso with tortilla chips.

I felt like SOME miles were better than no miles. And I spent the next few days obsessively checking the weather in preparation for my next commute.

Tuesday –

I wasn’t sure if I’d be biking Tuesday because the weather was forecasted as “iffy” but it happily didn’t rain so off I went. I felt really strong during my morning ride, hills that used to have me breathing hard were easy, I burned less calories. All in all it was really nice.

The afternoon ride home was hot and humid and felt like I was breathing pea soup. So nasty. But my body felt fine and my tire didn’t explode! It was kind of weird that both my morning and afternoon commutes burned the same calories–it never happens like that!

AM Miles: 12.38
PM Miles: 11.02
Total Mileage: 23.4
Calories Burned: 972

And then it rained for a few days and I could finally bike to work again…

Friday –

I love it when I can tell my fitness level is improving for a specific activity. The way it shows itself first is that I start to notice my heart rate doesn’t get elevated as high doing the same activities. The most obvious one is swimming–it used to leave me breathless and panting and now I rarely get my heart rate over 140 unless I’m swimming with fish as big as my arm! With cycling, I notice it when I don’t burn as many calories on the exact same route and when I also climb hills with ease.

Friday was like that. I felt strong on the hills and didn’t get fatigued. Progress!

Total Mileage: 23.39
Calories Burned: 933 

Total miles for last training week: 55.79

So not even close to 100 miles. 🙁 It’s frustrating that I set this big goal for myself and then the training just kept getting sideways. The rain. The scheduling issues. Being out of town. Sickness. Injury. Not having a consistent training partner. Not really doing long rides on the weekends. The list of excuses is long and I’m angry with myself for letting them get in the way. Right now, I doubt I am ready to do 100 miles. I could technically do it, but I’d probably hurt myself those last 20.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the next few weeks. I am going to keep training and trying to fit in longer rides whenever I can. My hope is that I can at least get up to the ability to do 75 or 85 miles in the event I want to do. Time will tell.

QUESTION: Have you ever quit an event or race because training didn’t go as planned?

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?