So my last post was ten days ago. While not quite the 7 day time frame I was shoting for, it's a lot better than the month between posts that it has been since February.
So the last time I blogged, I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't done any weight training in a while. I think it was almost three weeks (or was it two????). Well... I'm happy to report that I finally got my butt into gear and have been faithfully (can you really say 3 times in one, single, solitary week is faithful???) returning to the basement for workouts. To my delight, I hadn't lost any noticeable strength. That is, I was still able to do the same number (or more) of reps at the same weights as when I had stopped the workouts. I should probably disclose here that my weight training regimen is composed of bench press and curls with free-weights. I then switch over to using resistance bands for rows and butterflies. After that, I do planks. I just started to incorprate lunges into the routine as well. So its not totally weight training. Actually, very little weights, unless you count body weight and resistance bands as weight training.
As you can see, I don't really do a ton of different exercises. What I've been doing is using the above exercises in a circuit routine, doing a set of each, going from one exercise immediately into the next with no rest in between until all six exercises have been completed. Then I rest for a minute and do it all over. Truth be told, I don't have a lot weights in total. If you asked what my max bench press would be, I'd have no idea. I'm at the max of weights that I have, but I just keep adding reps. I'm not completely convinced that this is the way to go in terms of building brute strength (I'd guess most muscle mags would say I'm right), but it is helping me acheive a more "tight" and toned muscular physique, which is really what I want in the first place. I'm not interested in being able to pull or push a bus off of train tracks (although that might be useful in a dire situation). I just want to look and feel better than I have the past few years. I think this workout, however minimal it is, is helping me get to where I want to be. As a family, we have been watching American Ninja Warrior on TV. It's been a bit motivating when it comes to wanting to go workout. About 10 years ago, I think I could've crushed that course. Or at least finished it. As I near my 40s I am finding myself longing for the fitness level I had back then. I wouldn't say that I'm grossly out of shape by any stretch of the imagination, but the Ninja obstacle course would seriously kick my butt today.
From my workout description above, you can see there's little work for my legs. I've been using my bike riding for my lower body workout. Due to some other things going on last weekend (sister and her family visiting from VA and baseball games and birthday parties, etc) I was unable to get out ride like I've been doing. However, I was able to get out once during the last work week. In fact, with this bike ride I think I found myself turning a corner in my quest to get out and get fit. Not so much because of the nature of the ride, but because of the mind set going into the ride.
For the last two weeks here in Denver it has been HOT. Yes, all-caps kind of HOT. Record breaking, triple digit heat almost every day. Also, we've had a lot of wildfires popping up all over the state, with a couple of them relatively close to the Front Range communities along the Rockies. On some days, when the wind is right, you can actually smell the smoke from these fires. We've really had no rain to speak of for almost a month, and a lot of hot, dry and windy days. What does this have to do with the bike ride? This past Wednesday made it a week since my last bike ride, so I circled it on the calendar as a day I wanted to get out. Plus it was Bike To Work Day here in Colorado. Without riding on the weekend, I really felt like I had to get out and ride. I was really chomping at the bit. The Wednesday morning forecast, much to my surprise, actually said it was supposed to rain and thunderstorm in the PM, right where I usually go for my mid-week rides after work. I packed my cycling shorts, jersey and socks and put the bike in the back of the truck with designs on getting a ride in, certain the forecasters were delusional.
After work, sure enough, rain was falling when I walked into the parking lot and began heading home. In the past, this would have been a perfect excuse to pull the plug on my ride. Not now. On interstate, heading towards my spot and during stops in the stop-and-go traffic, I changed into my gear and made a bee line for the trail. I was going to get a ride in, dang it, rain or no rain. About 2/3 of the way there, the rain stopped and skies cleared. In fact, the southern end of the trail was sunny. Even though I thought I was going to get soaked, I had a dry ride.
I guess the title of this post is a bit misleading. But i wanted to have it there because of the mindset that it represents. I wasn't going to let rain put a damper on my need to ride. That's right. A NEED to ride. I have found that I do, in fact, need to ride. Not only for the exercise, but for the time I get alone, with my own thoughts. And for the way that finding a good cadence that makes me uncomfortable has an odd way of making me comfortable. Head phones on, more for background than anything, and thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. Thinking of my bank account and how it never seems to have as much in it as I want, then focusing on the burn in my quads. Thinking of Andi and the kids and what our next adventure will be and how I don't see to have enough time to do all the things I want to do with them, then switching gears and thinking of how much my lungs hurt and how badly I want to stop and turn around. Thinking of how I want more out of life, then finding that the little downhill that is the payoff after the lung-busting climb gives me a second wind that would last the rest of the ride. Learning that if I push just a little bit harder this time around, it gets easier the next time out. Somewhere in the miles I have realized something that I've probably known for a long time. As silly as it sounds, cycling has become life. Life has become cycling.
I have learned -- or more perhaps more accurately, relearned -- that in order to get anywhere and do anything, I need to push the pedals. The speed and force with which I pedal has a direct influence on how quickly and enjoyable the trip is. I have everything I need to get where I want. I just have have to put in the work to make it happen. My rides are a reminder to put in the work. The scenery and the feeling afterwards are always worth it. I can't rest on my laurels. I need to put in the work. Whether it's literally at work, or at home, relationally, I need to propel myself forward. Even when that hilltop seems like too much effort to get to, I need to keep going. Because on the backside of every hill, there's a fun 35mph white-knuckle descent just waiting to make me smile.