Archive for February, 2010

Take THAT, Yoga-Spin! No, YOU take THIS!

So Tuesday night was the infamous 45′ Yoga-Spin workout. Hah! I laugh at you puny mortals who fear this workout! Sort of.

I’m not going to lie, this is a tough, tough workout — it is designed to see how hard you can push yourself, and those are always tough as, in some ways, their goal is to always make you fail, albeit to fail less badly than you did the last time you did the workout. However, this particular workout falls pretty much right in my wheelhouse: moderate length bursts of leg strength.

The workout itself is pretty straightforward. First you do a bit of yoga, primarily stretching, to get the hammies and lower back warm and awake, then you climb on the bike to do five sets of three-minute threshold intervals, this is then capped off with a 12 minute power yoga session that drops the last straw on your proverbial camel’s quads. The intervals are done in successively tougher gearing with the goal being maintaining 100+ RPM cadence on the pedals the entire three minutes. I was able to do this for the first three intervals, without much of a problem.

The third interval started getting rough towards the end, but I didn’t really need to push myself. It was the fourth interval where I broke. After about 90-120 seconds in the fourth interval, I just blew a gasket and had to stop pedaling. Not slow the pace, but actually stop for 10-15 seconds before I caught my wind and was able to finish the interval strong. Fortunately I fared somewhat better on the fifth interval.

On the fifth interval, with the toughest gearing yet (IIRC it was 53×14), I was able to keep pedaling for the entire three minute interval, and I was ably to do it just a hair under the 100+ RPM target the entire way (I averaged 97 RPM for that interval). While this was, technically, a failure, for me it was a victory in my sights. I was so close to beating these intervals that I’m just itching to get my shot at them in 10-ish days or so when the yoga-spin comes round again. This time, I’ll want to finish all of the intervals at 100+ so I can move on to harder gearing for the third go-round.

So I was pleased with my performance the first time through this run, at least on the bike. The yoga is another story. I am so damn inflexible that one can think of me as the anti-Gumby (call me Ybmug).

Combine that with my appalling weakness everywhere but my legs, and you’ve got the makings of a yoga-nightmare. I can’t touch my toes, my hammies and back shriek as I transition from down dog to up dog, my glutes and core seem utterly lost when I require their assistance to maintain my balance, and my shoulders and neck are so tight and weak that I can’t even lift my arms over my head for any significant period of time before cramping and shaking. I let myself wilt into a wreck, and now I’m paying for it as I try to regain a hint of what used to be my youth and vigor. If only I knew how bad it would feel now as I was snarfing down that pizza back then. Oi.

Making matters even more fun were last night’s festivities. What started out as a fairly simple evening of body-weight exercises and some simple spinning turned into an adventure when on the very first body-weight move (a reverse lunge), my left quadriceps tightened up like a guy wire in a gusting wind, and refused to loosen up for what is going on 21 hours now. I was able to complete the workout by skipping the reverse lunges with my left leg, going slowly on the lateral lunges in both directions, and frying the hell out of my hamstrings and glutes by relying on them to get me through the final spinning part.

I’m hoping this doesn’t affect my workout today or tomorrow. I’ll do what I can, but I’m not going to put myself in danger of shutting down for weeks because I was stupid and overdid on an injured leg. Friday night I’ve got my first massage in more or less forever scheduled, and I’m hoping my therapist can help unclench my leg if it’s still grumpy, as well as work on all of the rest of my broken bits (though he won’t have nearly enough time for all of that this appointment).

Week two can smooch my booty goodbye (at last)

Well, week two of the 90 Day Fitness Blaster regimen has come and gone, and now lies, finally, in my rear-view mirror. I say finally, because I swapped out Saturday’s workout for this Monday’s rest. I did this because I hurt my elbow somehow on Friday, and I wanted to give it a bit more rest before starting the resistance training portion of the program. I was also gone half the day helping to run the Raffle Ramble, a fundraising event for the Tour du Rouge. Add those two up and it means I had to sweat last night, rather than napping on the couch. Turns out it wasn’t as bad as I feared it might be.

The lateral lunges went better than last time, as my right knee slowly loosens up and the muscles around it get a bit stronger (note to self, put on shoes next time… your stride is wider than your yoga mat, and your socks slide easily on the hardwood floor), and I was able to maintain the crow pose for five whole seconds before dumping forward onto my head (and I was able to do this twice!). Who know I needed a helmet for yoga?

The riding wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though 20 minutes straight is a long damn time to be on the trainer. Not only does the boredom kill me, but for some reason, my back and knees feel a bit worse on the trainer than they do when I’m just out riding. I really need to figure out if that’s a fit issue and fix it if it is. The next time I have a segment like this, though, I want to try and do at least half of the time at 110+ RPM rather than 105+.

That’s about it for now. I really need to get cracking on my post-ride report for the Raffle Ramble, and start fretting about the theoretically evil 45-minute Yoga Spin session I’ve got on tap for tonight… so I’ll wrap this up and try to get moving on those bits.

Oh yeah, after cramming way too many donuts in my maw at the Raffle Ramble, I clocked in at only 0.5 pounds down from last week. Ooops. You see?  Bicycling is bad for your health!

Well, that’s much better!

So last month I hadn’t made any progress towards my goal of cutting down on the number of miles I put on my car. My average for the month was about exactly what it had been the year before, so I put a little extra burden on myself this past month to exceed my original goal of cutting out 10% per month. So how did I do? Quite well actually. With a caveat.

First of all, my mileage. From Jan. 13 – Feb. 12 I put on just 426 miles. A drop of 136 miles from the previous month, for a whopping 24% decrease last month, and a 22.5% decrease from my average of 550 miles/month. Awesome.

However, there’s a bit of the bad to go with the good in there. A part of the reason I was able to cut my miles so severly is that I was out of town on business four four days. Not being able to drive your car sure makes it a lot easier to not drive your car. Of course, on the flip side, the next week we had not just bad weather, but horrible weather. We were hit with 11″ of snow here in the D/FW area (about 8-9″ at the house) and for days the roads were either snowy/slushy, or covered with ice as the snow slowly melted during the day and refroze at night. I simple do not have a bike that is set up to ride safely in those conditions, so I left it at home and drove in to work for five straight workdays. That right there is about 75 miles that were unexpectedly added back into my total.

Finally, I started out the current month with a bit more driving than I would have liked, thanks mainly to poor shopping list planning and a sick girlfriend who needed me to run out for supplies (doesn’t she know she’s supposed to schedule her illnesses?), as well as an unnecessary driving commute that I did, simply because I didn’t prepare the night before and was too tired to get motivated in the morning. One of those conditions is survivable, two are not.

Anyway… with the weather appearing to start climbing out of the depths of witer suckitude and into something a bit less bone-chilling, I ought to be able to get a lot more riding in in the coming weeks. I just need to make sure my rain gear is ready to go.

Day… jeez, I don’t know. 10?

Golly, I’ve fallen behind in posting again; what a shock. OK, Here’s the rundown from the past few days of working out, etc.

Sunday: I did not get out and ride at all. It was cold and wet and the wind was gusting bad enough to blow a decent sized branch down from one of our trees. I stayed in and did some stretching instead, because riding on the trainer is as enticing as riding a porcupine without a saddle. Yeah, I know — but I get that extra time in during the week on my commutes, so I don’t want to hear it.

Monday: Back on the aluminum horse. Some moderate length high-cadence riding folowed by floats (you really have to concentrate to unload the off foot) and extremely-high cadence bursts. The cadence sensor for my computer arrived and I finally got it on the bike. I was shocked to see that my natural riding cadence is up around 90 RPM; I would have guessed 75-80. This is why I’m not a drummer. I was also shocked to see that during the super-spins I was able to hold 150+ RPM without losing control. I would have guess I’d max out around 130-135.

In other news, I weighed in a 254.5 pounds this morning (good god, I’m fat). Down 4.5 pounds from the previous Monday, and up a bit from Saturday. I really need to learn to do better on the weekends and not cave into the “snack ’cause you’re home all day” trap. I hope the weather is better in the upcoming weekeds so we can get out of the house.

Tuesday: Or as I like to call it, “I hate those damn Hindu squats-day”. Actually, the squats were a lot better than last time, however, it took me about twice to three times as long a Graeme to knock out the push-ups and bicycle kicks (stupid bicycle kicks, you’d think it would be just like kicking a bicycle, but it’s much harder). Then I moved into Body Weight Contitioning #2. Ugh.

The reverse lunges had me wobbling like a Weeble in an earthquake, and now my glutes are mad at me. However, I did surprisingly well with the T-stands and only had a slight delay when I over-rotated on my fourth one. Future sessions I’ll try to extend the time I hold the pose beyond what Graeme does in the vid. Also, the Mountain-Climbers took me back to grade-school gym class, and had me marveling at how I probably could have breezed through these workout back when I was young and played every day. Sitting down for 8-12 hours a day has been slowly killing me.

Oh, yeah, the one leg drills. I’m still kind of clunky (but getting better and really working that shoe-scraper/knee-thruster transition that’s my big dead spot), and I stared to cramp up in my right hamstring after I finished the last rep. Still, I survived and slept like a baby — A baby that kept getting woken up by dogs.

Today: Well, I haven’t worked out yet (unless you count my commute, but I treated it like an active recovery ride this morning), but I don’t expect too many problems. My second run-through of the extended high-cadence portion is looking a bit daunting from here, but I can get through it. I have to. Still I’m betting those last four minutes will feel like 40. We’ll see.

Days 4-7 of 90

OK, a quick update and prediction:

Thursday, thanks to some personal issues (good ones, not bad) my schedule got thrown out of whack and I pushed the workout (a quick body-weight conditioning set) to Friday where I did it along with Graeme’s prescribed Fix the Back: Strength workout.  All in all, not too bad: my right knee was a little gimpy (still is, I hope it’s not going to be a problem), so half of my lateral lunges were less than stellar (well all of them were if you account for poor flexibility), and I failed pretty hard at maintaining the crow pose for any more than three seconds at a time without tipping over to one side or the other.  But I made it through the rest of the workout without any major issues other than needing to pause the video for a few seconds here and there to let me finish up my current set.

Well, there’s the body pike, but we don’t talk about such things in polite company…

Anyway, so far I’m getting all of my workouts in, even though I had to double up on a couple of them.  My nutrition, while not stellar, has also been back getting back on track.  I know I’m down a  bit in weight, but my official weigh-ins aren’t until Monday mornings, so we’ll see if I survived the weekend on that note.

As for my quick prediction: my prediction is that I’ll be skipping today’s outside riding workout and doing it tomorrow.  We had a big snowstorm here the other day (largest in DFW history, if I’ve heard correctly) and it’s still in the process of melting off.  The roads ought to be plenty clear tomorrow, so I’ll do it then.  Tune in Monday to find out for sure.

3 of 90

Well, day 3 is down, and thankfully it was a less humbling day.  Today’s workout primarily consisted of some one leg pedaling drills and a few bouts of extremely high cadence pedaling surrounded by some soft pedaling for warm-up, recovery, and cool-down.  Due to the nature of the workout, I was able to take care of it on my commute home (I did the one leg drills on the loop by my house, so I wouldn’t have to worry about wobbling into traffic), meaning a nice relaxing evening at home.  Which is nice, since my quads are still on fire from those damn, dirty Hindu squats yesterday.

So, now that the recap is done, I suppose I should address why exactly I’m doing the 90 Day Fitness Blaster in my efforts to get ready for the Tour du Rouge?  Well, there are two main reasons.

For one thing it was put together by Graeme Street and was built on his Cyclo-CLUB/Cyclo-CORE principles, ad those are the principles that got me through last year’s Lone Star Ride, and are the principles I’ll be turning to to perform even better in this year’s edition.  So there’s trust there.  I believe that the Cyclo-CLUB principles are sound, and I firmly believe that if I follow the plan to the best of my ability, I will be a stronger more ready rider in time for the tour.

But in addition to that, of all the programs Graeme and Cyclo-CLUB offer, this one seems to be the best suited for this particular ride.  The TdR is a long, but flat ride that will be rolling out at a moderate pace (likely averaging 15 MPH including the stops).  I won’t need to worry about climbing (last years reports indicate that the biggest climb on the entire ride was a bridge — hardly Ventoux), I don’t need to reach any particularly high speeds, and power for race style accelerations is right out.  What I need is to be able to stay in the saddle for long stretches and maintain a constant moderately high cadence at low power for six days.  And that’s just what this plan provides.  It starts by building an aerobic base and the neuromuscular ability to maintain high cadence pedaling, and addressing core and functional strength. Then it reenforces that base throughout the program, while building upon it by working in first pedaling strength for endurance in the big rings at speed, and finally by working in some anaerobic endurance (so I can get across that bridge when I find it).  By the end of this program, I ought to have a much stronger core, with better flexibility, allowing me to stay in the saddle for six long days, and I ought to have the long-term endurance to keep up to the expected speed for the duration.  It’s just what I need.

And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that since I started this week it will end just in time for the Tour du Rouge to start.  So the timing works out too!

Day 1 (really 2) of 90

So I started the Cyclo-CLUB 90 Day Fitness Blaster today.  I was actually supposed to start yesterday, but a clogged sink put the kibosh on that and I combined yesterday’s and today’s workouts into one.  How did it go?  In one word: Ow!

Yesterday’s workout part wasn’t too bad.  Basically it’s just an easy intro to high cadence pedaling and trying to build an aerobic endurance base.  Other than the fact that my saddle position is off by just a bit and caused a bit of discomfort, I didn’t have any trouble outside of boredom (trainers are hell compared to riding outside).  But the second day, a bit of body weight conditioning… oi.

For one thing, I have a lot more body weight than your average cyclist.  After a way lazy winter filled with business travel and holidays, I packed on a whopping 25 pounds since the end of September, and this was really felt (along with my lack of conditioning) during this portion of the training.  Far and away, the worst part was the Hindu squats which went from feeling like a breeze to feeling a bit rough, to feeling like Kali herself was destroying my quads and lungs in the span of about eight squats.  Ugh.

How bad was it?  After working out, I went to shower and took our dog Jasper (who was badly in need of a bath) in with me.  I squatted down at one point to shampoo him, and when I had finished and rinsed him, I was barely able to get back up again; my quads were that fried.

Jasper survived his shower experience, even if I was touch and go for a while...

Jasper survived his shower experience, even if I was touch and go for a while...

So at the very least, I know I did something today, and I’m guessing I’ll really know about it tomorrow. Sounds like fun, eh?  Well, this is what you have to do if you want to get into good riding shape.  On the plus side, there’s only 88 more days to go.

I’m doing what?

So late last year I signed up to take part in a little bike ride called the Tour du Rouge. It’s nothing really, just a tiny little bike ride is all. Just a tiny little six-day, 535-mile bike ride from Houston to New Orleans. That’s all, just 535 measly little miles.

OK, so maybe this isn’t just some tiny little local t-shirt ride that I’m setting out on. This one is serious; and in a couple of different ways. Not only do I have to get myself trained and ready for the physical aspect if the ride, but I’ve also committed to raising $2500 in donations to the American Red Cross chapters that lie along the route so that they can continue to provide the kind of relief services that they doled out in the wakes of hurricanes Ike and Gustav less than two years ago, and for many more less publicized personal disaters since.

Given the serious nature of this ride, I’ve decided to use this website to help me launch an attack on both of my goals for this ride and beyond.

On the training end of things I am breaking out the Cyclo-CLUB 90 Day Fitness Blaster offseason training plan, kicking off tonight and ending just as I’m loading up the car to head to Houston for the ride. I’ll be yammering about my training results and experiences here, so the world can watch as I whip this booty into full-on riding shape. Tune in tonight for a recap of the first workout and my discussion of why I think the 90DFB is the perfect training plan for this ride

And on the second front, I am looking to use this website as a vehicle for raising donations both from getting the word out to the public and for offering businesses some advertising space in exchange for a modest donation to the American Red Cross supporting my ride.  If you’re a regular ol’ person who would like to make a donation to support me and the ARC, you can do so by visiting the donation page that was set up for me for the ride; it’s fast easy and secure, and I can’t thank you enough for helping out with this worthy cause.  And if you own or run a business and are interested in donating and securing some ad space on the Bramble, I’ll be posting details shortly.  In the meantime, feel free to leave me any questions in the comment area and I’ll get back to you in a jiffy.

I truly hope that I am able to succeed on both fronts for this ride, because while it would mean so much to me, personally, to complete this ride, the funds that I raise will mean so much more to the people who see thase funds as relief services or food and shelter after their lives hove been turned upside down by some disaster great or small.  I’m priding for myself, but I’m also riding for them.  Won’t you please help us out?