Saturday, January 7, 2012

(Widespread) Panic in the Basement

Well, we're a week into the new year and so far, i am pretty happy with what I've done.  There is one thing i wanted to start doing this week that i have completely bombed on.  I was going to try and get up an hour earlier in the mornings and work out with weights before the kids got up and before i had breakfast, etc.  Turns out this is a lot harder than i had though it would be.  Maybe its because i don't get home until 8pm every night and i really love the two to three hours of vegging before going to bed, but i just can't drag myself out of the sack to get going. 

Not all has been lost though.  I've gotten my bicycle trainer all dusted off and have been riding pretty hard in the basement every other day.  For those not versed in cycling, a trainer is basically spinning wheel that you set your back tire on and pedal away.  It sits a few inches off the ground so its stationary.  I bought it a couple of years ago, used it sparingly, and its been sitting in the basement collecting dust for a long time.  In the winter months here in Colorado, its generally too dark, too cold, or snow or ice still resides in the shadowed sections of my favorite trails to make riding possible or safe.  When i originally got the trainer, i had visions of long, hard rides in the confines of our rec room in the basement.  After the first couple of rides, I got a very tender spot in the, ahem... groin area.  I also discovered a swelling that I'd never noticed before in my daily shower checks.  This was after my dad was first diagnosed with leukemia, so i got scared, went to the doctor and had it checked out.  Turns out it was a pretty common inflammation from riding.  I didn't enjoy the discomfort much, so i basically stopped riding that winter.  I also learned that riding on a trainer is nothing like riding outdoors.  For one thing, its awfully boring to just stare at the walls and floor, and therefore it was hard for me to get motivated to go down there and suffer.  Secondly, the trainer actually offers more resistance than the road, so the workouts were actually harder than riding outdoors.  I was finding my legs were as tired after an hour downstairs as they were after a two hour ride outside. 

Surprisingly, I have found going downstairs to pedal a lot easier this winter.  I can attribute this to a few things.  One, I believe i am a more dedicated bicycler (i hesitate to use the term "cyclist", but i think I'm getting there) than i was a couple of years ago.  I really have found a joy in just hopping in the saddle and pedaling.  Its a fantastic way for me to decompress and work out the myriad thoughts in my head.  Second, I have upgraded my cycling shorts.  Turns out, money can buy happiness.  My first pair of cycling shorts were Canari.  Nice enough, but the reason i bought them were they cheaper than the others.  I upgraded to a bit more pricey, but a lot more comfortable Pearl Izumi shorts.  Much better padding, and consequently a more comfortable ride.  Third, I have found that putting on some concert DVD's or DVR recordings and watching those while pedaling helps the time go by a lot faster.  I have found two methods that really work for me.  If i just want to go down and have a nice, steady ride, I'll watch one of the 20 or so episodes of "Justified" that i haven't seen yet (this is a great series that i highly recommend to anyone).  If i want a really hard ride, a DVR recording of Widespread Panic's "Tunes for Tots" concert in Macon, GA does the trick.  My strategy is to choose a certain number of songs that I'm going to listen to for that particular ride.  For the first song, I'll start with a nice, easy cadence.  For the next song, I pedal at about 95% max capacity until the song ends.  For the next, i go back to recovery mode.  Next song, pedal hard, etc.  The fun, and sometimes excruciating, thing about this is, you never know how long those guys are gonna noodle around on any given song.  One song might last 5 minutes, the next 17, the next 8, the next 12 and the next 4.  It's really kept it interesting for me and keeps me from constantly looking at my watch, wondering how long I've been going.  When the songs are over, I'm off the bike.  Even a relatively short ride (35 minutes) is a hard one.  I think i need more live concert recordings of some jam bands.  If anyone has any recommendations, I'm game.

Another thing I've been pretty happy about is my eating habits during the work week.  Since i typically miss dinner with the family on the nights i work, I had been in the habit of grabbing some fast food on the way home maybe 2 or 3 times a week.  Usually Chic-Fil-A or Del Taco or Taco Bell.  I would also grab a cheeseburger and fries at the "cafeteria" at work a couple times a week.  This week, I took lunch every day and only had fast food on Wednesday night (Chic-Fil-A).  Lunches were usually Corned Beef sandwich, some potato chips, and pretzels.  Not super healthy, but a lot better than what I'd be eating otherwise.  I think I'm going to start taking a banana for a morning snack.  And maybe take a jar of peanut butter to work to keep in my desk drawer to pair with some apple slices.

So there's my first week of the new year.  I'm not getting that chiseled chest or those huge biceps(yet), but i definitely do feel a little healthier.  Less fat in the belly and less body fat.  On the schedule this week: Target a bike race, find a 10K to look forward too, and schedule a trip to Vegas with the Better Half.    

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