Monday, February 11, 2013

Not to be a downer, but...

...snow sucks.  I know, I know, always keep a positive head, right?  Well I'm going to make one negative statement and then shut my mouth: Snow sucks!

Today, even though it was Monday, felt more like a Sunday than anything else.  Usually weekends are my time to recoup, get some good riding or other fun stuff in, and then get ready for my week ahead.  I'd imagine most of the population is similar in this way, so you know how I felt today when after a weekend of digging out and sleeping in the cold with no power I had to get back to work-somewhat..

It wasn't a crazy day at work, but the roads here are so bad that it makes everything just that much more difficult.  Really makes me miss the warm climate and blazing hot summer days of the time I spent in Spain this year.  Nevertheless, I saw a couple clients, had a bunch of others cancel, and ran some errands.

Physcially, today was more needed recovery from the digging and sloshing around. I don't think it was the actual work that killed me from the weekend, but rather not being able to sleep in a warm bed after Saturday's high level of exertion.  Aslo, I don't think drinking with the neighbors all week benefited me in the least when it came to recovery.

So today was just a simple hour long ride on the trainer, in addition to doing some more shoveling.  I managed to keep things exciting on the indoor ride by swapping out easy spinning on the trainer with harder efforts on the rollers.  Swapping back and forth between the two really made the time go by-nearly allowing it to be pleasurable.  I'm still amazed, even after having been away from doing indoor workouts like this for some time, that an hour inside seems to take FOREVER.  It's just so damned boring.  Getting it done, though, is a reward in itself.

Tomorrow I think I'm going to try and get back to a bit of strength training in addition to another hour or so ride on the trainer.  The trainer session (though I haven't designed it yet) will be a little more specific. I'm thinking of some longer intervals and decent rest time in between.  As for the strength session, I'm thinking all kettle bells and body weight.  Lots of push ups, pull ups, and good 'ole snatches, cleans, and jerks with the KB's.

Hopefully the next couple of days will see a return to some normalcy after all this snow.  Of course, just when it clears I'm sure we'll get another snow storm... Such is life!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

That was a bitch...

We got absolutely POUNDED with snow this weekend.  Blizzard "Nemo" as they have called it, smashed us every which way and wound up knocking my power out for the better part of 48 hours.  The town dealt with it sloppily, and I was stuck in a cold house trying to keep my dog warm as the inside temps hit close to 30 degrees.  The only good part was that my folks were able to get to the safety of the neighbors, with warm beds, warm showers, and plenty of booze and food (of which I must admit I enjoyed as well!)

Anyway, PRE-storm, I got in a great trainer workout on Friday night.  I guess that's actually DURING the storm technically, but I'll just call it my "pre" storm workout.  Basically I did a workout I used to do, mixing some endurance in with some short intervals-1 minute of work followed by 1 minute of "spinning" rest.  All in all it was only about an hour and a few minutes in the saddle, but damnit if it didn't hurt.  I'd forgotten how much a short time on the trainer could totally wreck you, provided you're working hard.  For a much as I'd rather be outside on the bike, I have to admit I was happy with the work done Friday night.

The next day, Saturday, exercise was dictated completely on how much shoveling there was to be done.  After getting 33 inches of snowfall, shoveling was ALL I did.  Admittedly, I LOVE shoveling.  I love the workout I get from it and I love the fact that you can really see the result of what you're doing as you're doing it.  A lot of my personal training philosophy lies in the idea that you should be "practicing" in the gym for real life.  In other words, what we do in the gym (i.e. lifting weights, swinging kettle bells, hoisting your body around) is preparation for what we may NEED to get done in the real world.  If you go to the gym and work out, but can't shovel your driveway without your back giving out, you need to readjust your thinking.  What are you doing?  And more importantly, is what you're doing going to help you when you're back is against the wall and you've got no other choice but to get out the shovel and move through a couple of feet of snow so you're family can get to someplace safe and warm.  In my eyes, I've got no respect for the people who just work out so they can look good in a bikini when they're on vacation.  They're wasting their time.

So, off my soap box, I was happy that I was able to get done some "real" work this weekend and not just practice.  Yeah, this weekend was hard.  I don't enjoy sleeping INSIDE and being able to see my breath, but in the end it's not that bad.  You get through it.  What matters now is that the power is back, my family is warm, and I can go to bed knowing that we made it through together and everyone did the jobs they needed to in order to get here.

Tomorrow will more than likely be another indoor ride on the trainer.  With the weather forecast we've got and the amount of snow that's fallen, I think it's going to be a bit before I'm riding outdoors again.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I rode my bike today.  It rocked.  I felt good.  That is all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Snow Ride Tuesday, Road Ride Wednesday

It was my birthday yesterday and to celebrate the occasion I took advantage of the light snow we got and ventured out to the trails with a couple buds.  One of the things I like a lot about racing the Enduro format of races this year is that I can still get in rides with friends that are slower than me.  Being able to relax and just pedal on the "regular" sections of trail and then focus my efforts on sprinting the downhills is great and, in my eyes, very conducive to enduro racing.  Sure, there's more to enduro racing and training than just 'sprinting the downhills',  but on days when I out with people who's skill and/or fitness level isn't up to par with mine, it makes the rides much more enjoyable.

The snow yesterday was about an inch or two and perfect for riding.  Nice and grippy, yet fluffy enough to throw up a nice roost if you hit the swoopy bits hard enough.  After getting over the initial cold hands, the three of us had a great, relaxed ride in some awesomely quiet and beautiful woods. Nice one for sure.

Today was a bit more 'training' focused.  Snow had continued to fall last night, so for all intents and purposes I fully assumed I'd be relegated to my first indoor trainer ride in God knows how long.  Waking up and heading into work, the roads were wet, icy, and not exactly good for riding, but as the day wore on, the sun came out, the temps came up, and the roads were good to go by around 2pm.  Happily I got in a short (90 minute), but hard ride with some "natural intervals" included.  I say "natural" because I just went hard when I felt good, and spun when I felt like I wanted to spin.  I like to keep things pretty fluid and unstructured, especially this time of year and especially with this type of racing.

For the first time since I got the road bike, I felt truly strong today-back like how I used to when I was racing XC.  I'd say the biggest difference between my strength then and my strength now is that I'm a bit more hefty these days then I was then.  I feel the extra weight, of course, on the climbs, but also in the way that once I get going I keep going.  In other words, there's a lot of power in these here legs, it's just applied slightly different with the extra 20+ pounds on my frame.

From a bike riding standpoint, the rest of this week is in limbo.  The weather over the course of the next few days is going to be unpredictable, with a chance of a "major" storm hitting us on Friday.  Allegedly, we're going to get anywhere between 2 and 38 inches of snow!  Either this is a freaky weather system or the weatherman is getting lazier by the minute.  I'll try to stay on my toes, check the forecast frequently, and be at the ready with either bike to get in some saddle time.  Otherwise, and more likely, it's back to the gym with me for a bit more frequency over the next week.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Make-up Monday

So for whatever lack of motivation I had yesterday, I was all in for some good exercise today.  The day started bright and early for me with a 4am wake up and a 5am first appointment.  Having been the day after the Super Bowl you can guess I didn't get much sleep.  Three and a half hours to be exact.  Still slugged some coffee and got the day underway.

Originally, I had planned on doing another road session today, but because of time slipping away from me (thankfully from being busy with WORK, hence "making money"), I opted for a last minute, race the sun mountain bike ride.  As I've explained in the last few posts, I've been trying hard to get out on the trails, but with weather and trail conditions not working in my favor, I haven't been able to make much of my fat-tired best friend.  So, with that in mind, I jumped at the chance to get in the dirt this afternoon-and almost forgot how stoked I am to be riding my mountain bike!  I've been so 'stuck' in training mode for the last couple weeks (really since getting my new road bike) that I nearly forgot how rad riding my mountain bike is.

I'm not going to go back on what I said about riding on the road, and how great it is to have rediscovered it, but I will say that riding a mountain bike-particularly a 6 inch travel bike-allows you to be creative like no other bike.  Yeah, you could rock up on a 200mm downhill bike and be creative going down hill, but it's not going to allow you the versatility of climbing rather efficiently, hoping up step-ups, skidding over wed roots, and generally getting to the top almost as good as a straight up XC bike.  I've missed this creative side of riding, and I'm so excited to have it back, if only for a day in between "getting fit" again for race season.

And that's about all she wrote for today.  I'm tired, I'm spent, and I'm ready for bed.  I've got another early start tomorrow (my birthday) before I hopefully get out on my road bike in the afternoon.  Let's hope all goes as well and as smoothly as it did today!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

(Not Exactly) Super Sunday

I've done no exercise today.  Apart from some practice skateboard tricks in my bedroom (yes, I said "bedroom") I've done nothing physical.  I had plans on riding today, yes.  And as mentioned yesterday, those plans included getting out on the trails, but by the time I was able to get out, they would have been soupy, muddy, and just generally shit.  Ride the road then, you say?  Well, because of the snow, they were a mucky, salty, sandy mess.  The above freezing temps of the day served to make things pretty crappy.  Not exactly conducive to anything I really wanted to do today.

I could have found the motivation to hit up the gym and lift weights.  I could have even found the motivation to get a kettlebell workout in at home.  The fact is, I didn't feel like doing much of anything. I slept well for the second night in a row, and that was enough.  Today has been designated an impromptu rest day, and that's all I have to say about that.

Tomorrow is another day and I'll be excited and ready to rock and roll again.  I WILL NOT get into the same cycle of forced training that I've always subjected myself to in the past.  I'm going to have fun with it and push nothing (well not exactly "nothing" but you get the idea).

Anyway, let the Superbowl festivities begin!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ride and 'Bells

Kind of a lazy start to the day workout wise.  I slept like an absolute ROCK last night.  The two prior nights I'd slept about a total of 8 hours so I was due.  I usually don't have consecutive nights of bad sleep, nevertheless anything really less than about 6 or 7, so I suppose I was due.

Again, I'm going to say, as much as I would never have imagined it, I'm really loving getting back into a 'training' mode again.  Hard physical work on the bike feels good, and even though I'm only a shadow of what I was the last time I was serious about riding on the road, it'll come back and I'm already feeling it.  It's only a matter of time before I start getting my kick back and really putting down some serious power.

I haven't been riding off road much, though tomorrow I will.  The trails should be back to normal for this time of year-frozen and fast.  I'd love to get up to some of the better riding upstate in the actual "mountains", but I'll make due with what we've got here on the sandbar that is Long Island.

After the ride this afternoon (which was about an hour and a half-I got a flat about 20 minutes in that forced me to shorten things because I was losing daylight) I got in a great strength workout with my kettlebells.  The sets were as follows:

2 sets of 5 reps of:
Cleans with 2, 24 kg bells
Clean and pushpress w/ 32kg bell
Long cycle Clean and Jerk w/ 2, 24kg bells
40 continuous one arm snatches w/ 1 24kg bell

All strength and all good.  I'm working a lot on my grip technique.  As I've moved into the "heavier for me" bells, I've found that my grip sucked.  I've been constantly ripping blood blisters and calluses on my palms-not good if you want to work on longer, endurance sets.  To combat all this, I've focused a lot on the "hook grip", using my thumb and index finger to do a lot of the actual grip work while the other three fingers on each hand concentrate on stabilizing the bell as it rotates.  It's more difficult that it looks, and requires actually letting go of the bell in mid flight as you re-grip.  Like all things kettlebell, it just takes patience and practice.  I'll get it, just have to keep working.

So that's it for today.  Sitting down to enjoy a nice beer (or 4) and watch the UFC.  Tomorrow I'll try and get my ride on the trails before sitting my ass down AGAIN to watch the Superbowl.  Not a bad weekend by any means.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tapping Out

Ok, so yesterday I put up this great post about how I was going to stick with the "big boy" gearing of my standard crank and 11-23 cassette for my road bike.  I was talking all this smack about how I'll just get used to it and since, back when I was strong, I was riding that gearing easily, I was just going to go with it.  Well screw that!

I decided to take a recovery spin today and realized that with that gearing there was no such thing as a recovery spin.  My legs might have been fresh yesterday, but damnit if they weren't tired as dead wood today.  So, with my tail between my legs, I'm admitting to being a meat-headed pedal masher and succumbing to the lighter gear setup.

Maybe I was a bit too ambitious and maybe I thought I was stronger than I was, but at this point in my newly re-discovered like for road riding, I'm just not up to pushing gears that big.  My knee started to hurt a bit and my legs felt like they were dead.  I had no pop, no get up, and certainly no go.  It's the right decision, it's just a little humbling having to make it.

Because of my lack of money, as well as my desire not to let anything go to waste, I'm gonna go back to the 12-27 cassette for the time being.  If I had the cash, I'd spring for something like an 11-25, but for the moment, I'll just have to deal with it.  At the end of the day, 12-27 isn't such a bad gearing, and still affords me plenty of range to push things when I want to, or lay off and spin up hills when I need to.

As for my ride today, it was nice.  A little to hard but nice.  Temps were just above freezing and the wind was howling, but it was nice to be on the bike even with the cold weather.  I'll probably wind up riding again tomorrow on the road, and then hopefully enjoy a nice, snowy mountain bike ride on Sunday.  We're looking at getting a dusting to 2 inches of snow, which will be perfect on the already frozen ground.  I'm looking forward to getting back on the mountain bike and back on the trails, but right now the priority is getting fit again-meaning plenty more road miles to come.

I've been a little lazy in the gym this week.  Work and life stuff have just taken so much of my time up, and getting back into regular riding had got me pretty tired-moreso than usual.  I'll take this week as an "off" week from the gym, and start back to hitting it hard again next week when, hopefully, my body is a bit more acclimated to everything.  I need to stay healthy and injury free, so being careful is the name of the game right now-at least that's the plan anyway.  I'm sure I'll find a way to push it again!