Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Well-Earned Hubris

It wasn't without a little smugness that I passed a uniformed group of four team riders pedaling up the mountain to Castle Craig last weekend.

I was not smug becuase I had been vigilant in my training- it was the second time I'd been on my bike since things started getting cold at the beginning of November.

It wasn't because of some natural level of physical fitness- I used to be really overweight and out of shape.

It was simply becuase I out eat those riders every day, and consequently I have a ridiculous advantage.

What did you have for breakfast this morning guys? I thought to myself as I passed them on the steep incline.

For me the answer was 20 tangerines. For them? Steak and eggs maybe? Oatmeal? Captain Crunch and milk?

The differences you feel within a few weeks of going on a low-fat diet centered around fruit is amazing.

Your energy levels skyrocket, it's easier to breath, and you don't get as tired.

Fat impedes the uptake and transport of oxygen, if nothing else. And every cell in the body runs off simple sugars.

Your body has to labor to convert oatmeal to simple sugars for use, but it's all ready to go for me.

The fact is that I didn't deserve to pass those riders. My training regime has been pathetic. I've been injured and resting all winter. That team probably races - which is something I've never even tried on a bike.

So when is the rest of the world going to wake up get off their addictions?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A taste of spring training.

This will appear in the paper this week.

Splashing through the muddy snow melt with the sun shining on my face Sunday, I allowed myself to indulge in the fantasy that spring had finally arrived.

A foot injury ended my marathon training attempt last fall, and running on it too soon reinjured it a month lat-er. By late November I was nursing a slight limp and muttering quite a bit under my breath, and decided I was going to spend my winter resting.

And so I have. I’ve slept in instead of hitting the road every morning, and my only exercise has been periodic trips to the Meriden YMCA to do a few exercises that don’t require me to crash down on my feet.

A week ago I finally started doing a few laps on the YMCA’s indoor track, but I’m being cautious.

But with the sun out and temperatures in the high 30s Sunday I couldn’t stay inside, and took out my mountain bike for a short trip that turned into a 17.5 miles jaunt into Cheshire.

The combination of my sustained ability to maintain circulation in my extremities and the fun of jumping off snow mounds kept me from turning back, and the miles flew by without me noticing too much.

Our halcyon days came to an abrupt halt Tuesday with plunging temperatures and a several inches of snow, so now I’m back in hibernation mode for another month. The few laps I’ve been doing have been in my Vibram Five Fingers- glove-like coverings for the feet that offer a bit of protection from cuts but no stabilization.

It’s as close to barefoot as I can get without having to worry about cutting my feet open on broken sidewalks and shards of glass. I’ve noticed all kinds of improvements to my running posture and a huge reduction in muscle soreness since using them.

I’d love to get some sort of minimalist shoe or racing flat to run in during cold weather, but I’ve found through a couple months of fruitless searching that as far as footwear companies are concerned, the only people who are interested in such shoes have graceful, arching, and narrow feet.

My feet are essentially corpulent, archless boats, so I’m out of luck. I found an ideal pair of minimally soled Puma shoes and couldn’t even stuff my feet into them.
At least I’ve had good recovery food.

Persimmon season ended a month back, and feasting on those gooey, cinnamon-like balls of pleasure was fun. Recently I’ve been having the produce guys at Shop Rite order me boxes of Manzano Bananas, which taste a bit like apples. A raw food diet isn’t too hard when you have good produce.

When the spring finally does arrive, I plan to take a more relaxed approach to my second marathon attempt. I’d ratcheted up to 20 mile-runs last summer and it will take me some time to get back to that point.

I’m still going to be doing my long weekend runs. Though exhausting, there’s a real joy to those long-distance treks, and I’ve missed them.

But during the week I’m planning on cutting down on my mileage to give me more recovery time. I’ll likely concentrate more on speed over short distances than middle distance runs like I did last year.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be hale and ready for the Hartford Marathon in October. Second time’s the charm.