I'm writing this on 12/4 and like all exercising in December, it is difficult at best. The days are grey, the weather is cold, and all of us are busy so it is difficult to stay motivated to say the least. In addition, I have been dealing with a lower back injury for the last several weeks and to be honest, it has scared the hell out of me because what was an inconvenient pain turned into a full blown issue that was fired off by an easy swim. When I was at my peak swimming preppping for IMAZ I would get little aches and pains in my lower back, nothing that some heat and stretching wouldn't take care of and nothing that kept me down for more than a day or two. This was different set off by squats, a tempo run, and then a swim. I wasn't able to do anything for a week and a half along with three visits tot he Chiropractor (that is one visit less than all of my visits to a chiropractor combined in my life) so that shoud tell you something. All seems to be better now, I will know for sure when I attempt to swim again this week, first time in about a month.
So.... now you are caught up to this weekend. I have been riding with a friend of mine, Don Brown who is training for the Leadville 100. Basically the Ironman of Mountain Bike races. I could spend three blog entries talking about how insanelyhard that event is and may do so at a later date. For now, trust me... It is insane.... So, I have started mountain bike riding for a couple of reasons:
1) It breaks up the boredom of long rides on the trainer and is a great workout
2) It is a blast especially for a newb like me
3) Don is an expert and knows what he is doing. It is so much easier to get into a new way of training when you have someone to tell you how to do it right.
4) There is no wind in the woods so I have found you can get a good ride in when the temps are much colder than a road ride.
5) As it became apparent this weekend, it works your muscles much differently than my tri bike which is great and will serve me well later in the season.
Don and I rode from Bethalto to the GORC trails at SIUE. It was pretty windy but I have to tell you.. I HAVE NEVER WORKED SO HARD TO GO SO SLOW IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!.. I was going pretty hard on the way out and I think we averaged about 10 MPH vs 19 or so on the tri bike. That was just the warmup, then we proceeded to ride the next 1:15 or so on the trails before finishing the ride on the road again. It was a great workout (picture below) and my mountain bike legs are not what my road legs are and it was apparent on this ride. To me, the cross training will be great to help round out and strengthen muscles that I normally don't work. The most insane part is that my upper body (upper back, shoulders) were in the worst shape just because they weren't used to being used that way.
More to come, I have added Yoga on my Monday nights off just to stay stretched and focused on stretching at least once per week. I think that too will help my back as well.
All for now, enjoy your winter.