10 January 2017

Trainer Training

I read about new year's resolution statistics the other day in a blog post written by a very dear friend I have not seen in more than 30 years. Bonnie Aaron worked with my dad back when we all still lived in New Mexico. She went on to earn a PhD and write two books (so far) about surviving tragedy and thriving even when you are faced with difficult challenges. We reconnected over the internet a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at how much she has accomplished since 1987.

Bonnie wrote that only 8% of the people who make new year's resolutions actually achieve them and that 75% of the people who achieve their new year's resolutions do it in the first week.

Initially, I thought I was in the 75% of the 8% because I'd always thought if I could make it through the first week, I can make it through the entire year. I work hard the first week or month of every year to develop habits to achieve the resolutions I make so they can last not only through the year but for life.

Now that Week One is history and I've reread the blog post, I realize that statistic may have meant something completely different.

Instead, 25% percent of the people who successfully achieve their new year's resolutions intentionally set resolutions intended to last beyond seven days. So technically, even though I consider myself successful if I am still doing on January 8 what I said I'd do on January 1, my resolutions typically are not things I do for only one week before moving on to something else.

An influence on my goals this year was a recent comment from a reader who said her daughter does not make resolutions but instead creates a bucket list for each year. She tries to check off things on her bucket list and does not consider it a failure if she doesn't get them all because many of the items she doesn't achieve can be on the next year's bucket list. That sounds pretty fun to me!

I sometimes have to adjust my resolutions due to circumstances beyond my control, but I still consider myself fairly successful in achieving the list of goals I set for each year. I enjoy setting the goals because I enjoy pushing myself to accomplish things I'm not sure I can do and because I'm trying to get the most I can from this life.

My (missed) cycling goal for the last two years has been 3,000 miles. I wasn't able to attain the goal in 2015, mostly due to weather and construction, so I modified the goal by 1,000 miles and missed the revised goal by only 49 miles. In 2016, construction was another huge barrier, but so was our decision not to try for Ride the Rockies due to two out-of-state trips for a family wedding. The spring weather was more accommodating for training, but I wasn't able to participate because of the trips. No regrets! However, I knew that lack of spring training would render me unable to successfully (and as painlessly as possible) participate in Ride the Rockies.

Bike path construction that daunted me in 2015 was scheduled to be complete in September of 2016. So I was ready to roll in September! I'd barely hit 900 miles at the time, I think, so I had quite the mileage to make up!

Unfortunately, two more construction projects started just days before the bike path was complete, and I wasn't even able to pedal my entire weekend daylight reconnaissance tour to make sure I could (safely) navigate the entire 60-mile round trip weekday route to work in the dark, so didn't get to commute by bike the entire route to and/or from work at all in 2016 for the first time in more than 15 years. This was heartbreaking to me. I knew I'd have trouble getting even 200 more miles by the end of the year, so I had to let go of the goal altogether. I decided at that time whatever I could pedal before December 31 should be fun miles.

And they were!

Most of the 1,266 miles I pedaled in 2016 were in Waterton Canyon, one of my favorite rides of all time.

My riding (and life) habits changed late in 2016 when The Lizard began a new job which filled most of our weekends. I think he's had only two weekend days off, and not in the same weekend, since the day he was hired.

As a result, I've had more time for sewing, and I've spent less time on the bike.

My cycling goals this year are governed by these experiences.

I don't have a mileage goal this year. I just want the miles to be fun and productive.

We aren't sure yet whether The Lizard will be able to take time off for Ride the Rockies, being new kid on the block without a full year of service. Construction will continue to plague my work cycling commute for perhaps another nine months, which really bites, but there's nothing I can do about it. Last year we devised a couple of partial cycling commutes that suffice until construction is complete (and the entire route will be about 200% safer!!!), and I hope to be able to engage in the modified commute once the bike path is not icy. For obvious reasons.

One of my most important annual goals since my bike wreck in 2012 has been NO MORE WRECKS!!! This is an annual resolution I will continue to make for the rest of my life. No more broken bones. No more hamburger knees. No more fear of riding because it's dangerous. I just won't ride when it's dangerous anymore. Not a bad resolution, don't you think?

Because I'm not making a mileage goal this year (and perhaps never again?), I do have goals on the trainer for 2016. My goal to start the year was to ride the trainer every day that we can't ride for real. (Yes, we. The Lizard is doing this one with me, and that sort of makes up for not being able to ride together on weekends.)

The goal changed after Day 1 to riding the trainer every day we can't ride for real when we can because we realized there might be days when one or the other of us gets off work late and we either have other commitments or we are just too beat to ride. Trainers are notoriously boring for most riders, so setting any kind of trainer goal is risky at best. After you miss the first day of an everyday goal, you get discouraged and quit. We wanted to avoid that. So we've made allowances for when things just don't come together the way we want or plan.

A couple of days later, we modified the goal again, not because we had lost motivation, but because we want to allow for cross-training and new goals as they become available, partially due to weather. The new goal is to ride the trainer every day we can't ride for real when we can until the end of January. At the end of January, if the weather is better, we might do a ride around the block, or we might go up Waterton Canyon if there's enough light, or we might decide to get a month's membership at a community rec center or other facility where we can cross train. Hopefully, this will help prevent the trainers from seeming like a prison sentence.

A Frozen Waterton Waterfall No Longer Open to the Public

So now here we are on January 10, and I'm very proud to report we're still riding the trainer every night we can. There have been a couple of nights when The Lizard said he didn't know if he had the energy. He ended up joining me each time because I was determined not to break the resolution.

We did skip one night when I marched in place in six inches of snow in -8 degrees to try to stay warm while waiting more than half an hour for a train. I asked The Lizard if that would count toward cross training, and he said it probably was better exercise than the trainer. Yippee!!!

Because I don't have mileage goals this year, I've incorporated the trainer to set some other goals I haven't been able to achieve the last two years due to the above-mentioned construction.

The Lizard is a much stronger and faster cyclist than me. When we ride together, I often have to encourage him to ride his own speed, promising to meet him at the end, although I know he almost always will cycle back to me and finish the route again with me at my pace. So my goal ever since the first time we rode together has been to increase my strength and speed so I can ride with him a little more. Because he's fun!!!

Last October during a ride up Waterton, I tried to hold his pace (after sending him on his way) for as long as I could. I rode a few feet behind him for nearly four miles before I was completely spent! I've never been able to hold his pace for that long before! It was so exciting, I tried to do it again each time we went up Waterton. As winter approached, our outdoor riding opportunities dramatically decreased, which means the power I was building will begin to fade.

So, I'm trying to make up for that on the trainer.

I can barely even balance The Lizard's bike on his rollers with my hands,
and he perfectly balances while riding it!

no balance required on my trainer

Typically, my outdoor average hovers around 10-11 miles per hour. Sometimes I can average a bit faster on level, straight terrain. Indoors on the trainer, my average is about 14-15 mph. I'm limited in this respect because I'm not on rollers (because I don't have the balance for rollers), and my trainer doesn't offer as much strength-building because it's basically one speed. I can pedal faster, but it doesn't require more muscle because there isn't much resistance. I'm just spinning.

However, spinning faster does offer increased aerobics. In the long run, increasing my aerobic strength could translate into increased endurance and perhaps even increased strength on a real ride.

My goal is to bring up my trainer miles to 16 or 17 miles per hour if the trainer can survive that abuse.

I also have a goal to get the sit bone used to being in the saddle again. If by chance we do get to participate in Ride the Rockies again, I'm going to need to build up to 7 or 8 hours in the saddle comfortably. My long rides often are longer than that (and that's another goal post-bike wreck... no more 14-hour days!!!), but being able to be on the bike for eight hours without swearing off ever being on the bike again would be a huge improvement right now because I don't think I spent eight hours in the saddle in a day throughout 2016. I can tell just by sitting on the trainer for up to an hour each of the last 10 days that my sit bone has become a little too wimpy. I'll need to rebuild that strength before spring training in order to be ready to train for Ride the Rockies, should the need arise.

Each time I'm on the trainer, that's also a time for me to focus on form. I have a tendency to lock my right elbow when I ride for real, and I often don't notice until it begins to ache because I'm too busy looking at all the wonders around me and trying to stay safe. On the trainer, I can totally focus on trying to keep that elbow slightly bent and relaxed. It's my shock absorber on a real ride, and I've been working for about six years now, ever since I learned how I got tennis elbow without ever playing tennis, to perfect my form on the bike. I guess a 40-year habit is really hard to break, because I'm still trying to get that part right! (Of course, mousing on the computer does not help in this battle...)

Both of us are registered for this year's MS-150, but we don't know yet if we will ride. I might volunteer instead, and The Lizard won't know for a while if he might be able to get the weekend off.

Charity riding is a pretty big deal for us. In about October or November of last year, I learned about Charity Miles, a smart phone app that enables you to walk, run or ride in behalf of a number of charitable organizations. Donors sponsor participants, although I'm not sure if donations pledged in advance are allocated as miles accumulate or per activity. I think per activity probably is more realistic and easier on the accounting side.

I've been using the app since the day I found out about it. The options don't include being on a cycling trainer, so I use the indoor walking/running option when I'm on the trainer, which relies on the smart phone's motion detection. Charity Miles acknowledges the motion detection is not all that accurate. I get credit for up to 1.5 miles for every 10 miles on the trainer. But if the donations are per activity as opposed to per mile, as I suspect, what counts is that I took the time to use the app instead of just going about my day. Miles aren't really going to matter to the various charities, I think.

I didn't know for the first few weeks my miles weren't being tallied for my own personal journal unless I logged in, so I don't know what my total for the three months of 2016 I used the app are, but I accumulated 70 Charity Miles after setting up a free account. And now I get badges, too, when I accomplish specific things. Almost all of my miles have gone toward the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. On January 6, there was a special drive to raise funds for Operation Smile, which provides surgeries for children with cleft lip or cleft palate, so I logged my miles on behalf of that organization that day and earned a badge.

The most important cycling goal for the year is to lose the rest of the weight I put on after the bike wreck in 2012. I've shed a few pounds each year since then, and most have come back one way or another. This year, I really do want to get back to my regular weight. Both The Lizard and I are going to have to replace some older (read: ancient) bike shorts this year due to chamois wear and tear, and I do NOT want to have to buy a larger size!

If I can knit or crochet a hat or two while I'm on the trainer, that's a huge bonus. But not a goal. The elbow is the most important cycling thing to focus on right now. Well, and the sitter. Both those goals will make cycling more enjoyable for life.

Cycling helps keeps me healthy. So I guess that's the overall goal. Whatever it takes to keep my body healthy and my mind creative.

Here's wishing you a happy and healthy 2017, too!

1 comment :

  1. Staying healthy and creative is the way to be. Yuck to the lizard's work schedule, but then work is work. Not surprised by the statistics, as people think the "magic" day will help. Pfffft.


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