Friday, September 28, 2007

Training - Baseline Run

Suffice it to say that I haven't been doing too much with the bike. The wedding is next week, there are the various last minute details to iron out, we still haven't moved completely, and I'm still a bit under the weather.

Each day seems like a balance between trying to rest, trying to keep my throat from going "a bit raw" to "sore", and seeing if I have the energy to work, and on the really good days, to do a bit of physical exercise.

As it's off season, and with a lot of non-biking stuff scheduled in the next few weeks, I've decided to put any purchases on hold. I did, however, somehow buy rust proof materials for the van in my very ill haze and didn't know I did it until the UPS guy dropped off the boxes at the door. I don't think I've ordered anything else like that, and for now, I'm not planning on doing so.

The future missus and I try to do a regular walk up and down the Rails to Trails path around here - we even took the tandem on it one evening. Somehow, although it couldn't have been planned, every stretch is a mile long. So if you go from where we are (next to a RtT intersection), turn left and go to the next intersection, it's a mile. 0.99 miles according to gmap-pedometer. Go right and it's a mile too.

Now, for an unspecified reason, I've gotten in my head that I need to be able to do some general all around fitness type things at some reasonable level. This involves a bit of stretching, some abdominal work, upper body work, and running.

No, you do not need to look for me at 2008 multi-sport events.

The other night I did a couch-thumping bunch of sit-ups. I did crunches too but I timed myself on sit-ups for a minute. I anchored my feet under the couch and started up (after starting a 60 second timer), but my flailing around moved the couch almost a foot (hence the couch-thumping). I stopped after 35 sit-ups because I thought a minute had gone by and perhaps I didn't start the timer - I didn't want to be doing sit-ups for 2 or 3 minutes. When I looked at my watch it was at 5 seconds to go. I managed two more but felt awkward and weak after I was done. So, in the spirit of the samurai (always looking to improve oneself), I decided I better do this more often so I'm a bit more fluent.

About running... I once heard a relatively well known cyclist, who grew up riding with a much better known cyclist (ex-teammate for a while now), talk about running. Just like the really well known ex-teammate (he won a bunch of Tours), he cut his teeth on triathlons. And after he retired from his pro cycling career, he decided to return to his tri roots. When queried by another ex-pro on how this change was going, he said that the biggest thing to deal with was that since cycling is so gentle on your joints, he had to allocate months of running to toughen them back up (so he could run the distances necessary to train at a pro level).

Although I was simply eavesdropping on this conversation, I filed this information away like I normally do. And now, a few years later, as someone who's seeing if he can run faster than an 8:00 minute mile, I've started to realize a bit of what that guy was talking about.

For now, my runs (all three of them) have progressed steadily in an unspectacular fashion. I managed a mile run the first time (about a month ago now), and it took me about 10 minutes of careful trotting.

It killed my legs.

I had to hold onto the towel bar to sit on the toilet. I almost fell down the stairs when my legs buckled. And it took a good four or five days to recover.

A couple weeks later I did a slightly faster run, the same mile, and although I walked for a minute after running at a very optimistic pace for 5 or 6 minutes, I covered the mile in about 8 minutes. And although my shins were a bit sore (worrying me), within a day I was fine. And my muscles were fine.

Using the satellite picture on gmap-pedometer, I picked out a tree which marked the 1/2 mile point, got my gear on (it's much easier getting ready to run versus riding), and went out the door. It's just over 1/2 mile to get to the half mile point so I walked it sort of quickly - I don't really know too much about warm-ups, never really did them for cycling, so I figure walking for about 10 minutes is plenty. Then, to get a baseline for a 1.5 mile run, I started running when I got to the Tree.

My heart rate immediately went up and I was on my way. I was dying at the turnaround a half mile away, convinced it'd taken me at least 5 or 6 minutes to get there, my heart rate higher than I normally see on the bike (and staying there). I checked my time - 3:45 (!).

Okay, that's pretty impressive. Well to me it is.

So I walked my heart rate down to about 170 (from 172, which is kind of high for me), which was about 10 seconds, and started trotting back. At the Tree I walked again, let my heart rate drop from 176 to 172 or so (I gave myself another 10 seconds regardless of the heart rate), and I continued on to the end of the path. I walked another 10 seconds at the end but even so I covered the 1.5 miles in 12:04.

Peak heart rate - 181. I rarely hit that in sprints.

So... that's my baseline. In the next month I'd like to reduce that time, perhaps by as much as a minute. I can't imagine not being able to run a lot faster than my sorry trot I did today.

In other news, Secondo, from a race way back when, apparently lives in the area. He asked if I wanted to ride. The route he mentioned goes up a road towards a house the future missus and I like so I remembered the road. One of the comments on the house was that if we lived there, I'd get a lot of climbing in as I'd have to do a couple major hills just to get home on each ride. That included said road.

Anyway, for me, right now, I wouldn't want to put someone through the agony of waiting for me on such climbs.

With incredible foresight, I'd been thinking about what to do if someone offers something like this (i.e. "Want to go for a ride?"). I had to find a way to point out that, although I may hold my own at Bethel and New Britain, I make for pretty miserable training company unless my ride companions are on an easy day. I tell guys (like on my team, like a Cat 5 on the team) "I'm not really fit" and they all pshaw me and tell me "Yeah whatever". Then when my heart rate goes over 170, I'm dying, and they're soft pedaling up the hill in front of me, they realize, oh, maybe Aki was right about that.

Anyway, I've decided power and average speed are two easy ways to illustrate my riding ability (or lack thereof).

Along those lines, the last few rides on the bike (even as recently as this week), I've kept track of things like average speed, power, etc. And the numbers are quite low. On essentially a flat route (I get out of the saddle for perhaps 3 little rises, none of them remotely close as big as the 150 meter "hill" at Bethel), I average about 28 kph or about 17 mph. My power rarely exceeds a 170 watt average. And on these sub-hour rides, when I get back, I'm somewhat spent.

I pointed this out to Secondo, who, somehow, hasn't pressed the issue. To be fair he knows I'm getting married and stuff but I still think it's sort of funny.

So I'm continuing some of these "all 'round" fitness things. This weekend we hope to finalize most of our moving in, get some wedding things finalized, and start thinking about next weekend and the honeymoon week after that.

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