Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Its too cold!

I went on a bike ride on Monday out by the salt flats and nearly froze! Being my first time out on my bike in basically five years, I forgot how bitterly cold it can get when you're out there riding in January. I ended up having to layer my workout gear wearing a under armor thermal, skin suit, a jersey and a shell, two pair of tights, two pair of gloves, and I also wore wind resistant shoe covers! I got all the way out to where I was supposed to start my ride and realized I forgot a hat. So on top of the fact that the shoe covers didn't do dick and my toes nearly froze off (it took thirty minutes after my ride to get any feeling back in them) I rode in the icy cold with no hat to keep my ears warm...won't do that again!

Despite a few almost frostbitten extremities it felt good to get out there again and spin my legs! I totally forgot how amazing the the feeling is when I'm out in the middle of nowhere with just my breath and heartbeat. Something about it forces me into a state of mind that makes me forget all of life's petty problems and for at least a moment I am in awe of my body systems working in nearly perfect synergy.

However, that amazing feeling I had unfortunately wasn't enough to motivate me to get out there and freeze my ass off again today. Just walking out to my car in the cold was enough to chill me to the bone. I decided to make other arrangements for the rest of winter:

This is the 2010 model of the Cycleops Mag Plus Trainer! or in other words, something that makes your regular bike in to a stationary bike so you can ride inside instead of freezing your ass off outside. It's pretty awesome, you can watch movies while you ride your bike! I just found it on ebay for nearly half the retail price, so I hope I get it! Riding on a trainer inside is a great alternative to training when weather doesn't permit but anything more that two hours on this baby may result in death by complete boredom. Hopefully I can make it out on Saturdays when I am scheduled for my long rides.

On Sunday, I am doing a 30 minute TT (time trial) to figure out my heart rate zones. I hope the sun is out, and I hope Len yells loud when he is driving next to me telling me to put the hammer down!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year

After nearly a year of bitching, complaining, debilitating depression, medication for that depression, failed classes, an endless train of cigarette smoking, coffee, and more than a few people's share of alcohol, I have found myself standing at the beginning of yet another year. Because I am increasingly becoming more and more lazy, cynical, irritable and uninspired, I have decided to make resolutions. But that is the only time I will ever call them that. The whole concept of people making positive changes in their lives just because the calendar year changes seems more and more absurd to me with each passing year. I am making positive changes in my life because I want and need to do some things different in my life for my general health, happiness and accountability, and these changes just happen to coincide with the new year.

When I was younger, I was an athlete. I began as a swimmer and swam through most of my k-12 education on both club and school teams. Then I began road cycling after my very talented cousin took an interest in me and offered to coach me and give me a spot on his team. I was pretty good at both, but my favorite was by far cycling. Because I was a wavering angsty teenager I got burned out by the time I was 19 due to overall insecurity of my abilities as an athlete and inconsistent training (which didn't help the insecurity bit)...So long story short I went on a study abroad trip to London and did basically everything that was the opposite of training, and have lived that way pretty much ever since.

Thinking back on my life, the last time I felt special, truly inspired and passionate about something was when I riding my bike. The feeling of euphoria after putting my body through so much pain and agony on a hill climb and feeling the wind in my face on the descent is completely unparalleled by any other event I can remember. Until recently, I never thought I would have the desire to ride let alone train for something again. I thought that time had passed and now I had to just recognize the fact that I was not particularly gifted or talented at anything in life. I know I have done a considerable amount of damage with smoking, possibly even drinking, and living my relatively comfortable sedentary lifestyle, but for the first time in a long time I am feeling up for the challenge. I bought a book "The Cyclist's Training Bible" by Joe Friel which I will post a link to at the end of this entry, and decided to start training myself for this cycling season. I have had mixed reactions after telling people that I intend to start training again, some skepticism, and humoring but generally overall positive feed back.

So here is what I have planned. I decided to start with 400 annual training hours, due to the fact that I haven't been on a strict workout schedule for quite some time. This will make it so the highest amount of hours I will be training for in one week is 11.5. I have decided on what is called a "Periodization Training Plan" which breaks up the training year in to blocks of time. Each block of time focuses on a different element of fitness and eventually produces a "peak", meaning the point in the season where an athlete is at the highest level of fitness and is able to race well. Cyclists choose their most important races and plan their entire training year around them so they can be at this peak level of performance in time for their chosen races . The first block of training is called the base period which generally lasts 12 weeks. The base period is subsequently broken down in to four week sections called base 1, base 2, and base 3. Base 1, which is where I am beginning, is characterized by the "start of steady increases in volume to boost aerobic endurance and increase the body's resilience to large workloads" (Friel, 108). In other words, for the next three months I plan on spending A LOT of time sitting on my bike riding either in the freezing cold or for long insufferable hours on a trainer inside. This is only the beginning though, hours start increasing but they don't peak until base 3, where I will riding the most hours per week for the whole season.

So this is now the purpose of my wayward blog, to tell the story of a former athlete who for the last five years has had no regard whatsoever for athletic fitness, who at least for one year is going to diligently follow a training plan to see how it affects his life. I will post at least once a week with a list of my workouts and updates on my progress.