Getting older but better

Observations on age and improvement…like wine but less red…

It wasn’t that long ago that I could ride 300 miles a week, drink hard on Friday and Saturday nights and still knock back a century on Sunday. Those days are over. Definitively, and for many reasons. I’ve had a few real and long lasting injuries in the last few years, thankfully not related to cycling. I say thankfully because injuries incurred from the bike usually bring to an end your riding. In my case as they were occupational injuries, once I had the requisite surgery to do the repair, riding the bike was recommended to me as my recovery method.

When i got back on the bike post surgery this May, I had to accept that I was essentially a beginnng cyclist. While I might have the wits and bikesmarts of an experienced rider, I definitely didn’t have the body. The legs were weak, the lungs were tight, and even my back and neck were barely up to the task. It’s been four months now, and something like 70 rides, and I’m feeling a lot more like my old self. I’m still slow, relatively speaking, and my endurance sucks, also relatively speaking, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Progress is obvious to those around me, and it cant be hidden from the scale, the power meter or the training log. My weight is down over 29 pounds, my FTP is already up 30 watts from my January threshold power test, and all my clothes are loose. In my fact my uniform, that I wear every day, barely stays on me right now.

As I’ve previously pointed out, I’m a recently self admitted data geek. I kinda feel that at 45 years old, I don’t really have the time to chase rabbits down unknown trails during training, I kinda need something of a sure thing. By measuring my performance on a regular basis, I can redirect as needed to keep progressing. I’ve always tracked my rides, and logged my miles, but I never really worked it into any kind of holistic training regimen. I just did what my legs felt like and pushed as hard as I could all the time. Using the old F.I.T. Acronym, I pushed frequency to every day, Intensity to 11, and Time to all day.

In the last four months, I’ve followed a much more carefully planned strategy, more time conservative, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve seen better improvement than I would have using my old methodology. I used the TrainerRoad guys plans as a base, and built my weeks around total Training Stress, working in aerobic stuff for weight loss on my commutes, and harder more structured stuff (anaerobic, and HIT) during my at least two trainer rides a week. One of the best decisions I’ve made in years was investing in the Wahoo KICKR last December. I bought it in anticipation of being broken for a while post surgery, and that was definitely the case. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy structured workouts on it. Lately I’ve been que’ing up a TrainerRoad workout, putting some first person cycling video on the big TV in front of my trainer, and jamming some appropriate music while I ride. I’ve got a pretty good sound system in the garage, so I can really blast it.

I’m about to start working in two short, easy runs a week to channel some of my cardio fitness into the things I have to do for the army, but personally, its all about the bike. The oldest boy is loving his mountain bike, and he’s been riding a lot himself, so I’m looking forward to being able to do some real rides with him in the spring time. Maybe Pablo Duro canyon, and something kind of epic. A year ago I didn’t really think that would be possible.

Things are looking up.

It’s been a while.

I have too many pages that start that way. I’ve been keeping this all up to date. I’ve just been doing it in day one and medium instead of here. I’ll slowly bring those posts over to this blog to keep it as my “blog of record” 😀.

When last we left you, I had just been dealing with the trials and tribulations of being in the military during a domestic disaster response. Hurricane Harvey pretty much wrecked my winter training plans, with 58 straight days of steady operations. Immediately after that we rolled into dealing with the events in Puerto Rico, which we also established a response headquarters for. Now normally this would be a dreary post about how I had big plans and goals that were not met due to reasons, but this one is different. The statement I just made is true, my training plans WERE derailed by Mother Nature, but the silver lining is that I realized that I had to make some changes to get things back on track. There were some mindset switches, some (expensive) purchases, and some simple physical adjustments. Together they are putting me in a very nice position for this winter, and the subsequent spring training season.

My original intent had been to supplement my lost miles with commuting days, as I live about 15 miles door to door from my office. I did this most of the summer and it was the right answer at the time to keep my base up. I usually commute on the cross bike since it’s roadie enough to facilitate the ride in good time, but off roadie enough to keep that ride fun and give me options for areas that aren’t in the best of condition. Once winter weather set in, along with the time change, my willingness to get up and get rolling at 6 am when it’s 38 degrees outside pretty much dropped to not. I knew this was coming and in early December I bit the bullet and bought a smart trainer. Specifically I went with the wahoo KICKR, based on great reviews, and a strong testimonial from the Ironman in my office. He did a lot of his training in advance of the race on his KICKR and he had nothing but good to say about it. So combined with wahoo’s great winter sale, I went all in.

<<<<<<
e got another post setup with my thoughts on the KICKR itself, but suffice it to say here that it exceeded all my expectations. Depending on which companion app you're using, it's either an absolute blast to race with friends (Zwift), or a dead serious training tool (trainer road) that has already shown me improvements in my overall fitness. One unexpected benefit was resolution of a few nagging fit problems. Using the bike on a solid trainer for a while or me to identify and resolve a couple saddle and bar issues that have me super comfortable now.

<<<<<<
ed to renew my commitment to total body health with yoga four times a week added to my already minimum of 20 minutes daily spent in meditation. During the first few weeks of the new year, I will add about 5 miles a week of running with an eye on completing a 5k in March for my birthday. I don't have any lofty ambitions for my running, I'm taking that totally on a try it and see level, as I haven't run with any real intent since about 2012.

I have some detailed posts for each of these that I will put up over the next few days as time allows, and I'll link them from here should anyone be interested enough to take a look.

As always, thanks for reading, and have a good ride.