Saturday, January 14, 2012

Trainin' ...

This week, I shifted my focus back into full training mode. And by that I mean that my workouts -- all of them, whether they're gym-based, ride-based or any other cross-training I may do -- now have a structure to them and the option of blowing one off for any reason is no longer there. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not going to turn training into a draconian march of misery. (In actuality, I really do enjoy this type of thing.) I will still have days where the intensity will be low and the miles will be short. But it's time to start getting ready again if I intend to race a full season. And since I do intend to race a full season this year, that means I need to start putting the time in to get my mind and body ready. I have a few goals I'd like to achieve this year, and all of them will require a little bit of pain and some long days in the saddle now if I want to have any hope of doing so.

I have made a few changes to my "usual" prep from previous seasons. For one, I started running. Actually, that in itself isn't "new". I started running last year, but had to put it aside due to a knee injury. The problem, I think, was that I was only running indoors on a treadmill. This year, I refuse to run indoors or on paved surfaces. I'll only run on trails. I figure this gives me a better shot at keeping pressure off my knees and calves. I only started running earlier this week and I'm "easing" into it to say the least (so far, only two runs, the first just a couple of miles on the lower trail at Wissahickon and the second a freezing and wet 5K run at a local park in the area.)

After a freezing run at Peace Valley

I'm being very, very cautious with running. I've had a few leg injuries through the years that put me at risk for joint and muscle and even bone issues now. The worst one was way back in college when I split my right ankle like a wishbone. That injury gave me hip issues, alignment issues and knee problems at various times. Almost any time I've tried running in the past, I eventually have to stop when I aggravate some old injury. But all those times, I was running on the road and on paved paths, so I'm hoping that by sticking to the trail, I have more success. So far so good -- my knees and legs feel fine after two runs. This isn't always the case, so ... fingers crossed!

Compression gear and ankle wraps help keep the legs happy during runs

Another change I made is that I'm trying to add a few other cross-training workouts. In the past, I was always a gym rat. I started lifting in college and have been doing so every since. I was a pretty focused body builder for years. In fact, I only started riding as a way to add more cardio to my weight training. But when I really started focusing more on riding, and weights took a back seat during the season. Now, I pretty much always choose a ride over a workout in the gym, and it's more than this addiction of riding now -- I just prefer being outdoors. So this season, I've been looking for ways to add fitness through non-riding outdoor activities as well. I already mentioned running, but I've also been doing a little bit of hiking, and I'm trying to combine runs with rides and maybe do a duathlon or two this year.

One of my favorite changes this year started this week as well. I started riding on the road over my lunch hour. I got out three times this week. That's awesome, considering that I am in my busiest season right now and we had some nasty weather on Thursday. I only get out for an hour, but I push pretty hard. Wednesday's ride was great -- there was a nasty headwind the whole time, but I kept pushing and even though I only had about 50 minutes because of a meeting at 1:30, I managed to get about 16 1/2 miles on some hilly terrain east of my office building. If I can keep this up and maybe add some intervals and other structure to the rides, I think it could pay off nicely by spring. If not, at least I'm moving during a time I'd otherwise be just sitting at my desk!

Perhaps the most important change I've made this year is this ...

I've taken a few classes in the past, but this year I joined a yoga studio and I'll be going pretty regularly. I'm hoping to find time for at least two or three classes a week. I desperately need the flexibility and the added core strength can't hurt, either. And, besides, I really enjoy yoga. I'm terrible at it right now, but I've got time, and I always feel good and more relaxed after a class.

And being more relaxed is always something to strive for ...

Relaxation is a way of life for The Krame ...

As I have for years, I've also returned to the gym in the mornings. I haven't been as consistent as I always was at Better Bodies yet, but I'm getting there. I got in a habit of going to bed later and later this year, so I have to turn that around so I can be up in time for a pre-work workout everyday. The new gym, PSC, opens at 5:30 (later than BB), so time is at a premium. But I'm working it out. I actually like it there -- I get in, get out and get to work by 7 just the same as I would if I didn't go. Good deal!

And, finally, at the center of all of this, of course, is riding.  I still ride off-road at least 4 times a week, with at least two night rides. It's finally gotten more seasonably cold lately, which I seem to mind less than I normally do. In fact, as long as my fingers and toes don't get too cold, I'm actually enjoying the lower temps this year. 

So, all things considered, I'm on my way with this year's training. I have a lot of work to do, and I'd once again like to race lighter this year, so I've got a long way to go. But my focus is definitely there and I'm enjoying all of it so far, so we'll see how it goes!

After a good 23 mile ride at Wissahickon, looking stylish in my new Walz cap.

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