Tag Archives: cardio

Trainer Blues

My homemade “work” station

The trainer is evil. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil, especially if one has aspirations of riding all over the French Alps.

Coach Bobby has prescribed a healthy dose of riding. Given my busy schedule, the weather, sunlight, and many other factors, I simply cannot do it all on the road. The problem is, I hate the trainer. What’s worse is I’m a total wimp. As soon as I get on, I want to get right off.

On the few occasions where I’ve used the trainer, I’ve spent about half the prescribed time. My logic is that the trainer is more efficient than the road. Even though I am not riding as long, I am getting the same fitness benefit.

I asked Bobby about this. He debunked my logic. There is more consistent pedaling on the trainer, but definitely not a 2:1 ratio. He wanted me to try and use all of my training time, whether on the road or the bike trainer. His advice was to set my goal for a longer duration. That way I can bow out early if I get too tired. He also said to put in a good movie and zone out.

Bobby had prescribed 2.5-3 hours of riding for Sunday, but it was going to be a busy day. I had an idea. I would just do it all on the trainer with the proper distraction.

Sunday’s 1-4pm NFL Red Zone package is probably the most immersive, action-packed three hours of television all week. There are usually 7-8 games, which they flip between to show suspenseful situations, and they show all the touchdowns, all teams threatening to score, and more importantly, no commercials. For an NFL nut like myself, it is cannot miss television. If I was going to be distracted by something for three hours, this was it.

I gave it a go. The first hour went by swimmingly. Sure, it was tough, but the action on the screen kept me captivated. I took a 5-minute break after the first hour, then went back on for 30 minutes. After another break, I got back on for another 30 minutes, churning the pedals as I watched the gridiron action.

By this point, I was already tired, drenched in sweat, and developing some saddle soreness. Another short break, and I willed myself back on. The next 30 minutes went by with a struggle.

Phew. I was tired, but I was almost done. I took a little longer break, then jumped back on again. Fortunately, this was toward the end of the games. Even though there weren’t as many close games as usual on this Sunday, the ones remaining were pretty exciting. However tired I was, the last 30 minutes went by faster than the rest.

Test passed. I can ride three hours on a trainer. Now that I have, I never will again, but at least I know my limits.

On the Run Again …

I used to be a runner. Not a very good or fast runner, but a runner nonetheless. I was mostly on again and off again before trying to dedicate myself a little more a few years ago. That didn’t go well and I found myself injured. That’s when I began cycling and have never looked back.

After discovering my passion for riding, I wondered whether I would ever run again. Why did I ever run in the first place? In fact, I would say that I have hated running.

That said, I have been running again. It all started innocently enough. I was hitting the gym regularly for my strength training. I started mixing in some cardio exercises, mostly elliptical machines. Those things get boring and I get a weird numbness in my feet after awhile, so I started walking on the treadmill. The walk became faster and faster until I found myself at a brisk jog. To my surprise, it didn’t hurt. I kept going and for the last few weeks, I have been supplementing my workouts with the occasional run.

Now that I am working on base miles, the goal for this weekend was to get a little bit of easy riding. Mother nature intervened and that didn’t happen. When I went to vote in the primary on Saturday, I found my usual polling place closed because of an 8k running event. Hmmm. I researched that event while waiting in the voting line and decided to give it a shot. An 8k would be a lot, but I knew I would be able to walk a good portion if needed. No worries if it rained a bit. That might even help.

The weather became worse. A light drizzle became a torrential downpour right before registration time. I was not going to risk injury by running on wet roads with inexperienced legs. Instead I decided to run the 8k anyway, but this time under the covered shelter of my local gym. I loaded my phone with some listening material and headed out the door.

The good thing about a treadmill is it allows for easy pacing. I started at a light jog around 5 mph. That went well for a mile and I picked it up in the second mile to 5.5 mph, then 6 mph, then a little higher. As I watched the miles tick away, still feeling good, I played with some faster paces. A couple times I brought it up to 7 mph for a short while, before bringing it back to 5 mph in order to recover. I found that I was keeping a decent amount of energy and gradually increasing my pace. The first mile was 12 minutes; the second was 11, and the third 10.

Even though I was tempted, I did not stop jogging until I got to 5k. At that point, satisfied that I would make the 8k without trouble, I walked for two minutes before getting back to the jog. Starting to tire, I kept the pace down between 5-5.5 mph for the 4th mile.

For the 5th mile, I was both tired and impatient. I wanted to get this thing over and done with, but I was also about ready to explode. So I mixed up my speed again and even pushed into the 8mph range on a couple occasions. Finally I finished, drenched in sweat. My 8k time was just over 55 minutes, which I was more than proud of.

I’m curious how this will affect me on the bike. These past few weeks I have struggled a bit on certain climbs because of my out-of-shape lungs. This might help. I’ll keep running here and there for cross-training, but I can safely say that I will not change sports just yet.