Thursday, June 29, 2017

Back in the Saddle

As Steve Tyler (Aerosmith) has sung a time or two before, "I'm back in the saddle again".  For those of you that are too young to remember that it is on You Tube:

For me, it's been a long time out of the cycling saddle.  I got too fat and way out of shape the last 2-3 years.  I blame that on my job.  I left work at zero dark thirty and came home in the dark.  I was working 12 hr. days..for who for what?  The pay sucked compared to what I made in the past...not even half of what I used to get paid. Not to mention the mental anguish and bullsh$t I had to put up with at work on a daily basis.  My health suffered because of it.  In January of 2017 I weighed 204 lbs.  I've been heavy before, but a lot of that was muscle mass.  My peak weight was 220 lbs. back in 2003.   But, I was lifting weights then and I could bench press 300 lbs. and do inclined presses with 110 lb. barbells.  Today, I'm a svelte 164 lbs.  I lost 40 lbs. in 6 months by cutting out: caffeine, alcohol, sweets, carbs and dairy products.  No ice cream, no pizza, no cheese, no chocolate, etc.  Giving up the alcohol was the hardest.  That's less than I weighed as a Senior in High School.  But, I had more muscle mass in HS than I do now.  I no longer work at the job I had the past 3 yrs.- thank God.  It's not worth working at a job you don't enjoy especially if it's affecting your health like mine was.  Life is too short to be working at a company or job you don't like- especially if it affects your health. There's plenty of other employers looking for good hard working smart people that are willing to compensate you fully for.  Enough of work.

Before you get back in the (cycling) saddle from a long lay off, either because of an injury, because of work, or really do want to lose weight.  Losing weight will make it easier on your joints and your cardiovascular system.  Granted, you don't have to lose 40 lbs. in 6 months, like I did, but if you do you'll feel so much better on the bike...especially the very first hill you climb.

My recommendation for your first rides back is to wear a HR monitor and let that be your guide.  All of your rides should be in the Tempo HR range (Zone/Level 3) which is approx. 70% of your HRmax.  My HRmax=195bpm so 70% of that is roughly 140 bpm.  I don't believe in Zone/Level 2 or less training.  The benefits just aren't there for the amount of time you have to put in at that Zone/Level.  It's ok to alter the pace within Zone/Level 3 from say a min of 130 bpm to a maximum of 150 bpm like I did, averaging 140 bpm for the ride.

Today's workout was an interval workout (See Garmin Connect Link). Garmin Connect It was a 2x45@L3 workout with 10 min rest between intervals.  That's 2 intervals of 45 minutes each at Tempo (L3) intensity.  No more rest than 10 minutes.  I did this workout on my Mountain Bike.  I could have done it on a Road Bike but I thought it was easier to do it on Mountain bike on a flat course.  I'm not quite ready for hill climbing on a road bike even though I'm a relative lightweight.  The other reason I did it on the Mountain Bike is because I rode on the Delaware and Raritan (D&R) canal alongside the Delaware River in NJ.  I rode from Point Pleasant on the PA side of the river, down to Lumberville and across the walking bridge to Bulls Island on the NJ side.  It's an awesome canal path that is heavily shaded from the warm/hot June/July sun.  The path is cindered and in good shape, unlike the PA side that has mostly mud, grass and rocks from all the river flood washouts.

When getting back into it, I'd keep riding in the Tempo Zone for at least a month.  Keep it flat and void of hills..for now anyway.  I'd ride at least 2 days a week spaced 2-3 days apart so you get some rest/recuperation in-between.  At the end of a month, you can ride 3-4 days a week..if time allows and start adding some hills at little at a time.  Remember too, when just getting back in the saddle, your sit bones on your butt are going to be sore.  You need to toughen them back up..and it will take at least a month.  Cadence and pedaling stroke is another thing you want to concentrate on.  Strive for 90 rpm cadence and ensure your pedaling stroke is flat, that you're pushing down with your heels and lifting on each stroke.  You want to keep your knees in too..which might feel odd, but by doing this you'll actually be pedaling more square/inline.  Trust me, a good pedaling stroke will prevent knee problems in the future.  I too often see people riding with their knees pointed outwards.  That's fine when you're riding your beach cruiser on the boardwalk but it's a recipe for bad knees when your riding a road bike in the higher intensity L4-L6 Zones.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm back in the saddle again.  I'm going to wait a month or so before my first group ride on the road.  I used to ride with the A group when I rode on group rides in the local bike clubs or local bike shop rides.  I may have to suck it up and start with a C group ride for now, to see how I fair.  I'll bet there are some women on these rides my age that can ride circles around me.  I'm not getting any younger (almost age 60 now).  That's fine.  I'll let them ride circles around me now.  That won't last very long..ha.  I don't think I'll ever get back riding with the mens A group, but that's ok.  The B group is probably more fun to ride with.  With the As, it always seems like the rides turn into races to see who the fastest/stronger riders were.

Until next time.  Power ON!  Coach Rob