Cross-Training Chronicles: Swim, Bike, Run (well, sort of)

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After the appointment with Rothman and a meeting with my physical therapist, it was confirmed that there was definitely something going on with my femur, but I can actually start running again soon. Thanks to yoga, I have some stellar body awareness which allowed me to catch this little ordeal in the early stages. In the meantime, I’ve been adding lots of cross-training to the chaos that being injured added to my life. Most recently, I hopped on my road bike for a nice long ride with Emily. She’s training for her second half-Ironman, while I’m just dabbling at the thought of participating in the Olympic-distance Steelman Triathlon in August. She had a four hour ride on her schedule for Sunday, so I joined her for the last two hours of it. It was my first ride in over a year.

If you know anything about how I feel about cycling, you’ll know I think riding a bike for two hours sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry. I just don’t like it. Of the three endurance sports (swimming, biking, and running), cycling is the most challenging for me. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I can comfortably complete a workout and I enjoy being in the water. When it comes to running, I enjoy pushing myself and completing various types of workouts. As for biking, I feel as though I’m dying the whole entire time. It’s hard. No matter how strong my legs are from running and yoga, they always feel tired right from the start of a ride. My butt hurts for days afterward. If I ride with friends, I’m always struggling to keep up. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s too windy. It’s raining. There’s rain in the forecast. The route is too hilly. Want me to keep listing my complaints? Because that’s just my short list. I’m not one to complain but when it comes to biking, I can go on and on and on.

Since I’m sentenced to cross-training and really miss running with my friends, I agreed to the ride. Maybe it’s because I’ve been cooped up indoors lately, but I was pleasantly surprised that I truly enjoyed the experience. I’ve spent the past few weeks gazing at the beautiful sunny weather behind big glass windows while swimming, aqua-jogging, and running on the anti-gravity treadmill. Getting out on my bike not only meant a good workout with great company, it also meant taking a break from being inside.

We covered about 32 miles in the two hours we rode together. She took me on quaint country roads near her house that I never even knew existed. It was a bit hilly, but not unbearable. It was cool, but not cold. My biggest concern was that I didn’t want her to have to wait for me to catch up if I fell behind.  Emily is an incredible cyclist and quite a bit faster, but since I joined her for the second half of her long ride everything worked out perfectly. As a matter of fact, it confirmed my decision to participate in the Steelman Triathlon this summer.

Our beautiful day was followed up by a rainy week, preventing me from hitting the roads again. I know most dedicated cyclists would still ride, but I’m not quite at that point yet and will wait for sunny weather and clear skies. I’m keeping an eye on the weather forecast and my road bike in the back of my mind as I plan my daily cross-training activities. What I seem to be missing most about running is simply being outdoors and enjoying the spring weather, and our bike ride really gave me a good dose of that. I can’t say I’m actually missing out on the social aspect of running since my running friends haven’t missed a beat and cross-train right along with me.

Though I spent a few hours on my road bike last Sunday, I actually went biking on Saturday using my mountain bike. I’ve really been enjoying being part of the Saturday long run crew, beginning at Sand Island and heading to Billy’s for breakfast after we’ve racked up a respectable amount of miles. There hasn’t actually been a long run since Boston and my injury, so I haven’t had to miss out on any group runs. Until last Saturday. The crew was meeting and everyone was running different distances, so I loaded up my old mountain bike (I’m talking about 15 years old) onto my bike rack and biked the towpath with my friends. I packed snacks, water, and GU for my friends and rode alongside of them as they ran. Of course I’d much rather be running with everyone, but it was still a lot of fun and it gave me a chance to experience the beauty along the towpath in a different way.

As for actually running, I ran 8.25 miles in 60 minutes yesterday on the anti-gravity treadmill at 60% of my body weight. In the last two minutes, I cranked the weight to 75% just to see if I would feel anything – twinges, pain, strange sensations, etc. Nothing. No pain later in the evening, or when I woke up this morning. I’m planning to try two or three easy miles on a trail after work on Thursday to just see how it feels. I didn’t really run much after Boston, so technically my four week sentence would be complete on Monday, but I’m still proceeding cautiously. I’m not planning to go for a 20 mile run this weekend regardless of how things go on Thursday. I’m thankful for the things I’m able to do, so I’m listening to my body and allowing it to call the shots.

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