The Journey of 100 Miles Begins With a 30 Minute Spin?

3:12 AM

The weather dipped below zero on Saturday evening, and didn’t creep back up until Tuesday afternoon.  As far as bad Minnesota weather goes, this Polar Vortex ranked about a 6 on the International Craptastic Scale - we’ve had worse stretches that lasted for much longer.  True Fact: when it gets below -10 degrees uncontrollable coughing ensues.  Another True Fact: my car’s temperature gage bottoms out at -11...not sure why…



At any rate, I couldn’t send my post cary entry for a 100 mile gravel race off in the mail and then not go on a bike ride.  Especially since I’ve pretty much done absolutely nothing for about the last...oh...month…

The first spinner workout of the season is always a bitch.  Drag out the road bike, then realize you haven’t cleaned it since your last nasty ride of the year (you remember the one - where you forced yourself to go out in the rain for an hour because it was only the middle of CX season and you couldn’t give up on your training plan yet).  Next, find the stupid spinner and stupid spinner wheel.  Seriously, is it still in the trunk of the car from when you put it in there to warm up at a cross race before deciding a couple of laps and half a Snickers bar was good enough?  And then you have to clear a space in your cluttered spare bedroom (can we just give up already on the futon and admit we don’t have guests?) for the whole dirty set-up before finally getting on the bike and realizing you are now staring at a dusty shelf where you keep your iron and extra safety pins.

Not even the best i-tunes genius mix could save this workout.  

I started with the lofty goal of an hour.  12 minutes in found me obsessively checking the lapsed time in disbelief.  Switch to the radio - maybe a little NPR would keep me entertained and distracted.  What?  Now its only been 16 minutes?!

I readjusted my goal - 30 minutes was good enough.

Of course, I know I cannot continue in this fashion if I want to be ready for my first century.  At some point I am going to have to log some serious miles (and minutes...um...hours) on the spinner because there is no way I will be able to do this by training entirely outdoors.  Still, I would like to keep these kinds of workouts to a minimum, as they are both soul crushing and painful.  

Which brings me to my plan to avoid the spinner as much as possible:

Run  Every Minnesotan has a low temperature limit for various activities.  My running limit on a good day is zero (on a bad day it is 15, still far below my low limit for a road ride, which is 40).  Though I never ran longer than 30 minutes all of last year, it is time to get back to longer runs.  They build leg strength and cardio quickly, and are the most efficient way to get a workout in when the sun still sets around 4:30.  30 minutes is pretty easy peasy for me right now...time to up the minutes with a goal of 60-75 minutes.

Lift  I’ve always known that strength training is a gaping hole in my training plan, and 2014 is the year to address this.  I don’t think strength training is all that important for a 45 minute cross race, but it does come into play when you get into the third hour of a long ride.  I hate prescribed workouts more than anything else, so I’m back to my 30 minute strength lottery: rotate sets of upper, core, and lower-body exercises for 30 minutes.  Do no more than one set of anything.  Don’t rest, just move to the next body part.  

Commute  I’ve discovered my lower limit for bike commuting is about 12 degrees, so I’m back on the fossil fuels for now.  I do plan on getting back into the routine as soon as possible - I’ve got my Fuji Cross-Pro all set up with wide studded tires for the icy streets of St. Paul.  As an added bonus, the bike now weighs about 20-tons.  When I started commuting to work this past fall (5 miles each way) I didn’t think it would make much of a difference in my fitness.  Afterall, I wasn’t exactly hammering it.  But by late November I think it was the commuting that kept me strong in the final weeks of my cross season when I couldn’t get a “real” workout in to save my life.  Biking to work might make more of a difference to my late winter fitness than anything else…

Mountain Bike  The lower limit for the mountain bike is right around 15 degrees, and I happily discovered last winter that when the mercury dips below 20 degrees you have the best conditions for the fat tires.  I will again be going with the studded 2.1 tires on a fairly heavy 29er frame.  I am relying on the mountain bike for my long rides during the winter, as long as the fat bikes get out and pack the trails down.  There is just something so peaceful about riding through the trees with the low sunlight where the only sound is the crunching of snow and ice under your wheels...

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