Saturday, February 16, 2008

define out of shape

I finally got outside on my bike today. What a great feeling it was too with mid 20's, sunshine the whole ride and I nailed the clothing perfectly. I have realized theres just no warming up the right fingers-it has almost nothing to do with gloves. Must be a 40 something thing. $7 polypro glove liners helped though.

So there I am riding (a bit hungover too on rich handmade and Belgian brews like Saint Bernadus #6 and #12) and trying to asses my knee and my fitness. My legs burn while my cardio feels unworked. I can easily believe I am this out of shape, even though two weeks ago I was doing some XC Skiing and feeling really strong.

As I burn off the ill effects of a night of drinking and a low grade hangover I also start to feel how different the changes in fit I am experimenting with are. I honestly feel like I am spinning better circles and though I feel weak in power I also feel like I can push into the threshold power band easier. Its hard to describe, but it feels good and right, kind of.

I would say I am really behind the other serious racers I will compete against and its hard to not be self critical and a bit freaked out. Racing starts in a few weeks, but my seasons 10 months long. Its really not going to matter come July and August what I did now unless I were to freak out and burn myself playing catch-up. Of course Sean wouldn't let that happen so no worries there.

I have also invested 7 to 10 hours a week, waking up at 6am every day for months doing off the bike exercises. I am stabilizing the core, working hip flexors, etc. and trying to make sure I recruit all the right muscles in the right ways. I have always thought I am pretty in tune with my body so with this recent knee bang-up I am really amazed at how much stability you lose and how your whole body compensates for any injury. I had to pedal a bit differently today and be very conscious of how I ankled with my left foot or I would get a shooting pain from my knee. So its not 100% so I am putting off any hard efforts a few more days.

As I went past the 1.5 hour mark I could feel the beers effects fading away as I drank my electrolyte drink and ate a Cliff bar. I didnt want to push too hard and I didnt have my Power Tap on this bike, but I know when I am hitting 300, 350 watts so thats what I held up the rollers or climbs. I wasnt trying to go hard, but more to push into that envelope a bit and see how it felt. With the new position my pedal stroke felt really good, smooth. Maybe its partly from riding rollers and some form transferring over from riding a fixie. I dont know, but theres a tough thing going on here thats hard to come to grips with.

While I feel like weve made positive gains everywhere this winter, I felt dog slow out there today. Its always tough when you ride and dont feel strong. Or at least stronger then what the roads and wind dish out. Like every false flat was a bit too hard and every climb was a few degrees steeper. But on the flip side though I felt slow, I felt smoother, more efficient. Maybe thats just a byproduct of not going hard (nor having the fitness to go hard) or maybe some cool stuff has happened to me biomechanically. But when you make changes in fit, at least I am a little scared if I should have messed with it at all.

So I dont know, am I just out of shape or have a I built a strong foundation to work from? So starting from scratch (if not a month behind) will actually build me up stronger? For sure the knees not ready for anything more then what I am asking of it. I can definitely feel how unstable the knee is when I ride out of the saddle or don't pedal smoothly. It lets me know in no uncertain terms!!

So again, whats out of shape? For me right now I would say its being that few percent off and not being ready physically to start pushing hard. Mentally I am dialed, poised for take-off, eye of the tiger and all that stuff. Well, its a good excuse to get in those base miles, even if everyone else (at least in my mind) is pounding out intervals already. Or maybe it was just too much beer!! Wouldnt that be funny.

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