Monday, April 7, 2014

15 days off

This poor blog has been getting neglected.  Because it's primarily a blog about running.  And I haven't been running.  Today I ran for the first time since my race on March 22.  That's 15 days off.  The longest amount of time I've taken off, on purpose, probably in...forever.  I thought the 12 days I took off in January was long and arduous.  I realized this time around, that 10 days is really the most I can take off from running before it begins to damage my emotional stability.  (I realized this around day 13, when I was starting to wonder why I couldn't shake an in-explainable bad mood).  But, I made myself wait until today before I ran again.  I have a race on Saturday, so I need to run a few times before then!

As I started out on today's run, my legs felt really weird.  Like they weren't really sure what was going on.  "What is this strange running-thing we're doing?!"  But, it only took a few minutes to settle in and love the run.  I did my standard 4.7 mile loop. I didn't push too hard, but I wasn't just jogging along either.  I ended up with a 7:07 average pace, which is pretty stellar after 15 days off!

Of course, I didn't just spend the last 15 days sitting on the couch.  That would have been unbearable.  The 12 days I took off in January taught me that I have to keep my cardio up somehow while not running, or my lungs get really weak.  So, I needed a cardio alternative to running that didn't involve a gym membership, because I don't have money lying around to spend on that.  I decided it was time to start biking.  Naturally, it snowed the day I planned to start biking.  And it snowed for the next several days.  But eventually the snow melted and I was finally able to get out on my bike.

Biking is not my favorite form of exercise. (obviously) It's not terrible, but it's so easy to just coast along, I've always had trouble riding hard enough to get a good workout.  Obviously, coasting along would not keep my lungs in shape.  Thanks to Strava, I found a way to motivate myself to ride a bit harder.  Using my phone, I can track my rides on Strava, and it ranks me on various "segments" of roads created by users.  Fastest guy/girl on each segment are the king/queen of the mountain.  There aren't too many people riding consistently here who use strava, but there are a handful.  I didn't get QOM on all the segments the first time I tried them, but I got most of them pretty quickly.  There are only a few segments left that I have ridden on not gotten QOM on.  So my real goal is to get as high on the leaderboard with the guys as I can.  Because being competitive is the main thing that helps me stay motivated during rides.

My longest ride so far was yesterday.  I rode 29.2 miles.  I still felt pretty good at the end of it, so I am planning to push for closer to 35-40 soon.  Also, I biked 85 miles last week.  Not too shabby for my first full week of biking. Way better than the 18 measly miles I got the week before...

My main frustrations with biking right now?
a) The wind.  It has been really windy here lately.  And riding into the wind is ridiculously not fun.  Especially when your quads are already sore from previous rides.  Ouch.  Also, riding into the wind makes my back hurt.
b) Biking is shredding my quads and doing NOTHING for my calves.  I developed restless leg in one of my calves just a few days into my 15 days off, and biking barely alleviated it.  Because it was too busy making my quads feel like they were being stabbed by knives.  On the bright side, my quads are getting really strong...
c) So time consuming.  Sure, I can go for a 30 minute ride and ride as hard as I possibly can, and it's a great workout.  But, back to the quads issue...I can't ride that hard every day.  I have a high pain tolerance, but it's not that high!  Especially not when I'm also fighting the wind.  But in order to get a good workout out of a slower ride, I have to be able to devote at least an hour and a half, preferably more, to the ride.  That's a lot of time out of my day. a/k/a not gonna happen most days.
d)  I thought since I was exercising regularly, I would be able to maintain my sanity.  But then I discovered that biking does not relieve stress for me like running does.  That was a sad and disappointing revelation.  Luckily there's not too much stress in my life right now to begin with, so I'm still able to do pretty well.  But my frustration-threshold is definitely lower right now...  I think biking is not working because my quads hurt too much before I am able to ride hard enough/long enough to get the same workout I get from running. Maybe once my quads get into bike-shape it will be different.

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