Monday, September 24, 2012

Really kinda funny... this whole blogging thing goes.  Years ago blogging used to be the next "big thing."  I can remember reading blogs all night and finding inspiration from my favorite athletes to keep going and training.  It still is fun, and I do still find inspiration, but the world has changed, even in the past two years.  Twitter and Facebook have become the norm, and taking the time to actually "read" a whole blog seems like too much.  Maybe it's me, and maybe it's growing up and having less time.  Or, maybe it's just being impatient and becoming used to the instant gratification that twitter and Facebook provide.  I'm not sure how to quantify it, but I find myself skimming long posts more and more these days.

Ok, end of thought process...

Last week was a solid week for me.  Getting stuff done, working out hard-both on the bike and off it-and finding the time to relax a bit have been awesome.  I can't say that I've ridden a lot or even done the type of riding that I really enjoy, but I've gotten in enough time to make me feel happy.  Couple that with the time I've been putting into my kettle bell training and all is good.  In the kettle bells, I've really found something that's not only brought me back into the realm of strength training, but something that's really proved to be beneficial not only in my riding, but in my life as well.  For the first time since college, I feel strong.  Real life strong.  Strong to the point of things being easier.  My every day life is improved.  It's amazing how much I let myself slip in that area.  Needless to say, I'm back and feeling good.

The rest of the week is work, some riding, and plenty of kettle bells. I'm trying to put together a bit of a home gym, complete with kettle bells, ropes, sledge hammers, tires, and heavy bags.  Real life Rocky shit!  Should be good and I'll post pics when it's done.  Looking forward to wrecking myself at home! :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cruising Along

There are so many things I wish I could write here at the moment.  My life has taken such a dramatic change for the better I'm on the edge of my seat wishing I could write everything that's gone on in the last 5 months.  In time, in time...

Anyhow, I got a lot done today and woke up with that "I'm gonna kill the day" attitude today.  I got a lot done and by the end of the day felt more accomplished than I have in about a week.  Still there's more to get done, and things that need to be addressed, but at the end of the day, I'm feeling pretty damned good.

A lot of this good feeling can be contributed to the people around me, the circumstances I live in, and most of all, a beautiful woman that I know is by my side, whether we're together or an ocean apart.  It's funny how this life things goes, and I've quit trying to make plans when "life" obviously has other, more important considerations.

I continued to work the kettlebells today, loving them more and more with each workout.  And, of course, I got out on the bike with one of my best friends, having a great time and enjoying the outdoors.  Too often I think we forget about just how lucky we are just to be alive and able to do what we enjoy when we want to.  It's a luxury not many people have in this life-we need to make sure we make the most of it!

Otherwise, just a busy day on all accounts.  Work in the morning, fun in the evening.  Not much else to report.  Tomorrow will be another work focused day, with some housework stuff stuck in the middle.  More than likely no bike riding, but I might try and fit in a strength workout somewhere in the middle.

Great life.  Keep on truckin'....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another Kettlebell Day

Really digging the kettlebells these days if you haven't noticed.  I've been really busy the last month and a half and with that haven't had the spare time to ride my bike as much as I would like.  This isn't a bad thing though, as I truly believe to be the best athlete you can be, in any sport, you need to be well rounded.  From the time when I was just a teenager, I always found that the more sports I competed in at any given time, the better I was at ALL of them.  The "cross training" if you will, of other sports, for me, really gives me a great balance and an awareness of what I can do across the board athletically.  It took me a long time to figure this all out, but now that I have, it's really pretty rad.

I think to a certain extent it's a mental thing.  I'm obsessive about whatever athletic pursuit I choose, so, knowing myself in that way, I find that when I diversify my attention, I'm less crazy.  Like anyone that has ever been obsessive over something, I've found through experience that the more I think about something, the more I analyze every little detail, the more I "choke" when it comes time to perform.  Being less into the competitive mode these days helps things, but even on my daily rides I find that I can become so detail oriented that I forget to have a good time and just let things flow.

Finding kettlebells has not only reformed my workout routine off the bike (which, in honesty, was pretty much non existent for the last 4 or so years), but also gotten me to think less and just literally enjoy the ride more.  After all, what the hell do we do all this for if we don't really enjoy it?  I'm not getting paid to ride my bike, so why make a job out of it?

I'd have to say that the thing I love the most about training with the kettle bells is their simply brutal nature.  You're literally swinging cannonballs with handles around.  It's just moving weight and letting yourself flow with it.  Every part of your body is coming into play, and, for my money, it's the best way to get the most out of a small amount of time.  As of now, I've yet to be able to make it over 30 minutes when going hard.  I might have been able to stretch things out a bit if I were to actually rest during the workout, but the nature of the kettlebells and their flowing properties make it easy and meaningful to transition from one exercise to the next.  You literally never have to stop.  Going from one thing directly to the next is not only what makes it fun, but makes it effective as well.

Before this becomes an infomercial for kettlebell training, I'll stop it here.  Bottom line is I'm loving these things and I can see the difference they've made in my riding and my overall sense of wellness.  I'm back to feeling like the strong, 31 year old man I should be and not the skinny, over trained cyclist I had become.  (And by skinny I don't mean anything derogative, I just mean that I wasn't feeling strong. You can be skinny and strong for sure-just ask any of the guys I used to work with at the moving company.  They all looked like marathoners but could lift couches over their heads all day long.)

This weekend I'm going to try and get out on the bike at least once, but I've got a busy schedule to get through before that can happen.  It would be nice to get in a ride both days, but at this point, I'll just take one ride.  Best part about it is, though, there's no pressure to do anything.  It's all dependent on what I feel like doing and what I've got the time for.  Either way, with kettlebells and my mountain bikes, I've got choices.  It's good to have choices.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Awesomeness, Awesomeness, and more AWESOMENESS!!!

I've got some great news, BUT, being the internet and the nature of social media, I can't explain things just yet. For now, just know that I'm the happiest man in the world.  'Nuff said!

So, since my last blog entry (few and far between they are), much has happened.  Mainly Anne and I had been running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to make plans for her move here, working no finding out immigration info, and working on planning for our business.  In between, of course, we spent as much time on our bikes as possible-me having a blast being able to ride with and watch her progress, and her trying to stay on two wheels and avoid getting any more bloody shins and elbows.  All in all, she is not just a total babe, but an absolute bad ass as well.  She took her lumps and bumps but still continues to progress.  I threw some of the toughest trails around right at her and she came through with shining colors (be it mostly "blood red", but that's another story!)  I can say I couldn't possibly be prouder and more stoked with my girl!

On the work side of things all is going pretty well.  In the personal training biz, things are always a bit hectic, and being that I was out of the country for the better part of 3 months, I'm excited to have found out that ALL of my clients were LOYAL and stuck it out, allowing me to have my time away and getting right back to work when I returned.  Great people are like that-like great friends, you can pick up right where you left off without feeling like you've even missed a day.  I'm fortunate to have so many wonderful clients to work with.  Really blessed.

So, with all that, Anne had to leave this past Monday to head back to Spain and begin the moving process.  We've both got a couple months of busy work ahead of us, planning her return in the new year to the States.  Life stuff has a funny way of seeming intimidating at the outset, but once things begin rolling and you begin to chip away at the mountain, you're soon left with much less in front of you and a pure feeling of accomplishment when you're finished.  Both of us will work hard and do what we have to, and things will be all the more sweet when we're back together.  Not to sound too mushy and romantic, but I'm a better man with her around.  She challenges me every day to be the man that I should be, and to me, that's the best thing any woman can do.  I always laughed at guys who said that their women made men out of them, but in my increasingly older age (ha!), I'm learning that notion to be quite true.  And, most importantly, I'm embracing it and loving every second of it!  Bottom line: I love the hell out of her and miss her just as much.  Holding her again cannot come soon enough!

On my own training side of things, I'm back to regular riding and lifting again.  I've decided to chill out on trying to ride too much, focusing a bit more on lifting with special emphasis on exercises that do NOT include dumb bells, barbells, or any "traditional" gym equipment.  Meaning, I'm all about kettle bells, ropes, pull ups, push ups, sledge hammers, and big ass tires.  Since discovering kettle bells and learning more about what they entail, not only trying them out for myself but learning and studying more about them in every aspect, I'm in awe of the results the produce.  I've been using them solid now for about 5 weeks and I feel strong again like I did when I was stuck in the gym for hours upon hours each week.  I've never used something that had faster results and gave me more power and strength in such short time.  Sure, you can say that since I've been a "power" athlete my whole life I'm going to fall easily back into that category, and I won't argue that.  However, for the time versus effort ratio, you can't beat the damn things.  I spend, on average, about 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week working with them.  So let's say, on a good week, I get in 90 minutes of strength training.  From that 90 minutes, I feel just about the same as I used to from about 10 HOURS of strength training in the gym.  Add to that work with heavy ropes, hammers, and tires, and you've got one of the most AWESOME methods of training I've ever done.

Of course, this wouldn't be great if it didn't translate itself to my bike riding and general activities.  Sure I want to be healthy and strong, and I may appreciate having the extra muscle and strength when I'm older, but for now, if it improves my enjoyment on the bike, it's going to be first and foremost in my mind.  I'm stronger, more agile, and generally just BETTER in my riding now.  Quite cool for something that you'd probably not imagine had much to do with actual riding.

So that's pretty much it for a quick update.  Like I said at the beginning, I've got some HUGE and GREAT news to share, but I can't just yet.  Give it about 2 weeks and you'll know (if you don't already!).  Time to get some sleep!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blue Mountain

Each Sunday for the last 3 weeks Anne and I have gone up to ride our bikes at Blue Mountain, a nature reserve that is host to some of the best single track on the Eastern Coast of the US.  It's an awesome trail system with everything from flowy, smooth single track to big rocks, rollers, and trials style obstacles.  It's got something for everyone from the xc racer to the free ride maniac.  I always have a great time when I go alone, but with her it's that much better to share a place that I love with someone I love.

So, yesterday, again, we headed up early in the morning to get a nice start on the day.  Typically we spend about 4-5 hours out on the trails (or whenever I get tired-which once comes first depends usually on my fat ass!).  The previous week had been a bit of a bummer.  Though the ride was good, I was tired and cranky, not riding well, and of course acting like a child for some of the time.  Nevertheless, we got in a decent ride, had some fun, and were excited about going back the next week.

As we rode yesterday, for what wound up being around 4 hours, I couldn't help but marvel at the progress that Anne has made in such a short time.  She's really only been riding seriously for about a month, but she's tackling some obstacles and very technical trail that took me nearly a year to even try.  Sure she's being pushed on by an overzealous boyfriend, but that's beside the point.  She's crashed, been scraped and bloodied, but still, the girl keeps coming back for more.  She's either incredibly determined or stubborn as hell-I think both!

Anyway, we took some pics (which I haven't had the time to upload just yet, but will this afternoon) and we had some fun.  On my side of things the riding is getting back to where it used to be.  I'm clearing the stuff that I always have and even making some things that I wasn't able to before.  I've started lifting and using Kettle Bells in the last month, and I'm seeing some drastic improvements in my strength and power.  My explosiveness is at least 75% better than it has been, and I'm feeling more and more athletic with each workout.  I had neglected this part of training before, what with all the training for endurance that I was doing.  I had really not felt the need to do much weight training.  I was concerned I'd gain too much muscle and slow myself down.  It's nice not to have to worry about being "too heavy" (I'm laying at about 200lbs right now).  I'm more concerned with protecting myself in the even of a crash and being able to power myself up technical sections.  My natural weight seems to be right around where I'm at now, and I haven't felt as good in all aspects of my fitness in a long time.  Riding a bit less and lifting a bit more really makes a big difference.

So today, in addition to uploading pictures of our ride later of course, we haven't got a ton planned.  I've got a client to train early, then we're headed to a cafe for breakfast, then relaxing for the day until we head out to dinner with my folks.  All in all not a bad way to spend a holiday Monday!  Happy Labor Day and welcome to the fall!