Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slog days versus rest days

The wind hasn’t started yet. The forecast calls for 25-35MPH West winds today with gusts over 40. Winds that strong can actually pick up small pebbles and pelt you in the face with them.

So I will not be riding today. At least not outside. Today is a good day to go to the YMCA.

I’ve had two slog days and a rest day. Rest is an important part of exercise. The body needs to recover so it can go at it again. Rest days are essential. Slog days, on the other hand, are those days when it’s tough to get motivated but the body still wants and needs to move.

When I rode my 90-miler, I had no expectations of making it that far. Between work and a math class I was taking, I hadn’t kept up with the training schedule. DH kept reassuring me that I would do fine and that rest is important. I told myself that I’d shoot for at least a  metric century (62 miles), go as far as I could and that there was no shame in flagging a ride from the sag wagon.

I surprised myself with how far I rode -- and I made it back to the start under my own steam. DH was right: rest is important.

So often, I see the people who write on health and fitness blithely dismiss “excuses” for not exercising. They tell us to replace “self-defeating” thoughts like “I don’t have time to exercise” with “I’ll make time!” (exclamation points often figure big in the overall perkiness.) Well, when I went to work the other day at 7:30 in the morning, came home from class at 8 p.m. to a dirty kitchen with a growling stomach and was trying to accomplish everything with a mind and body that require 7-8 hours of sleep to function... well, sorry honey, this was no excuse. I truly did NOT have time that day to do a full-out workout.

One of the “excuses” is that we are tired, and the admonition is that exercise will give us more energy. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes if we force ourselves out the door and begin moving, we will remember why we like to do this and why it makes us feel good. Sometimes, our body is just telling us “sit, stay, DOWN!” as if to a disobedient puppy.

Slog days can be tough to tell from rest days,  but when I listen to my body, it lets me know. On a slog day, I might go out slow and pick up steam. I might go for a shorter time, or at a slower pace. If I try to slog it and it’s not working, I pack it in and make it a rest day. Our bodies know. We might mistake a slog day for a rest day or vice versa, but both are important. We can trust ourselves to learn when to push ourselves and when to take it easy.

On my two slog days, I got on the bike trainer and pedaled slower and more easily than normal. The second night, I hula hooped a few minutes under the stars on a non-icy patch of sidewalk. I moved for what time I had in a way that I enjoyed, and I was glad I made time for it. Last night, no training schedule, no “fitness goals,” nothing on earth could have moved me off the couch.

There is no shame, no failure in rest. Rest is healing. Today I don’t feel is if I have to exercise -- I want to. I would not feel that way without some rest.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two days, two books, five miles to nowhere

It's been a busy week, but I did manage to put in about 35 minutes on the bike trainer in our back room over the past couple of days. I usually figure 10-12 miles per hour when on the trainer, so I'm counting it as five miles.

I love to read books while pedaling. Something I  can clearly do only while on something stationary. Wednesday, it was catching up on my accounting homework, reading up on stocks and bonds with the seemingly 18-pound-textbook in hand. (No, it's not that heavy, really, just feels like it sometimes.)

And last night, I was reading a library copy of Kim Brittingham's Read My Hips: How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting and Live Large. The book has a "someone recommended this!" sticker inside the front cover, since I recommended that our library purchase it. Not everyone knows this, but public libraries usually take suggestions from patrons on books for purchase. I figured Read My Hips was a nice counterweight to all the diet books.

If you've read it -- you know that photo of her as a young girl? The one where, at the time, she thought she had freakishly large hips? I was about the same build at about the same age and had about the same attitude toward my hips. I never tried to photoshop them with a marker in a picture as she did. I just avoided cameras.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I am officially a Defiant Athlete!

I am officially a Defiant Athlete! Shaunta was kind enough to add me to her list over on Live Once, Juicy. If you haven’t checked out her site yet, go take a read or follow her on Facebook.

My goal is to complete my first century (100 mile) bicycle ride at the end of June. It’s an organized ride, so there will be support all along the way. It’s also a 2600-foot gain in elevation for the first 50 miles, and more likely than not I’ll be fighting a headwind in that direction. I need to get to where I’m riding 40-50 miles a week consistently before I start my 10-week full-out training schedule in April.

At this moment, I am a defiant, fighting-a-cold athlete who wants to go home and get some rest but can’t afford to miss class tonight. My mom always asked when we got sniffly if we were “coming down with something.” I’ve found that when I refer to it as “fighting a cold” instead of “catching a cold,” I seem to get fewer full-blown colds.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Come on, Snow Day!

Snow is coming down fast, sticking now to the walks where an hour ago it melted. It coats the leaves; some will fall later, branches or even limbs still attached. The wind picks it up in swirls, the air has that storm-blue light you only see on snowy evenings. outside the basement window, the scrap roll of chain-link fence turns to lace.

They predict 5-10 inches tonight, the second real snowstorm of the season and the first big one. I find myself hoping that WYDOT will swing the gates to the summit shut on I-80, the offices will close and I will dig out my skinny skis and cross-country down the streets in the morning. Come on, Snow Day!

Snow has always made me feel hopeful. Snow is doing my schoolwork at the kitchen table in the breakfast nook so I can listen to the school closures on the AM radio. Come on, Snow Day!

Snow is the year I finally moved West and saw two feet of it on the ground in Alaska in May. It’s moving to a ski town with my now DH and hearing the avalanche cannons go off at dawn. Coffee tastes better when snow is falling. It’s the watercolor  my sister painted for me of my 2nd day on skis, in the Utah mountains. It’s seeing the darkened winter becoming bright, moonlight reflecting so its almost like day.

Snow is also a pain in the neck these days. I’ll wake up at 6 and shovel the walks. Remind me never to buy another house on a corner lot. I’ll spend 10 minutes finagling with the automatic garage door that always malfunctions in cold weather. I’ll go to the office and look out the windows at all the white once, wishing I could go out and play, before I retreat to my windowless office.

Snow both makes me feel old and reminds me of being young.

Sunday, I rode out to the experimental farm. It’s one of the few places outside of town where there are trees, along with beautiful old homes built for employee housing.

DH has impressed upon me that I must, must, must keep the tires property inflated, so I grabbed the pump before I pulled out the road bike. Opened the back tire presta valve and popped on the connector. Nothing. No hiss, no swing of the needle on the air gauge. I try it again. Nope. The last time I was too forceful with it, it stuck and I had to get the man to do the big, strong man trick to get it off. So I go to the front tire. The tire has lost way too much air and the valve is sticking out all catawampus. The last thing I need to do is lose air in the middle of a 20-miler, so I decide to take my commuting bike.

(Interestingly enough, spellcheck’s recommendation for “catawampus” is “cutworms”)

I grab the other bike pump and inflate the tires on the other bike. It’s about 40 degrees outside and I wonder briefly about that whole gas expansion thing I learned in high school chemistry. And continue to fully inflate them.

I head West out of town. It’s uphill, but still calm, and even uphill I build up a pretty good cadence. There’s no feeling like getting a good spin going -- anything 80-90 on the flats, legs loose almost no resistance -- it feels like flying.

My commuting bike has no cyclometer, so I don’t know how fast I’m going back on the longest downhill but it’s fast. Fast enough there’s a fleeting thought that if anything falls off the bike at that moment, this is gonna hurt.

Fortunately, it’s slower when I hear a POP and a hissssss and there’s something odd on the side of my front tire. Not good. I’m still 5 or 6 miles out and it’s either a long hike or a sheepish call to the DH. 

I stop. About 2 inches of the tire has popped out of the rim. All I can think is that I inflated the tire too much and I’ve lost the  inner tube. I take a little air out and push the tire back in. It still holds air. I take a little out of the back tire to be safe and ride home slowly, but under my own steam.

Twenty miles and three bad wheels on one sunny Sunday morning.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Who is the Fat Chick in Lycra

Well, first off, I'm not really all that fat. I thought I was until I started lurking among the body size acceptance blogs.  I've got a lot more thin privilege going on than I thought.

But in this world, I'm fat enough. 

I'm fat enough that every year, when I take a wellness assessment for an insurance discount at work, it tells me to lose at least 25 pounds, despite otherwise good numbers.

I'm fat enough that all the news stories tell me I'm taking my life in my own hands because of my body size.

I'm not so fat that the only images I see of women with my body size are headless torsos. I'm fat enough that I simply rarely see women my size in the media anywhere.

I'm fat enough that I spent much of my life first hating my thighs, then my belly, and as I got into my 40s, my upper arms.

I'm fat enough that I'm grateful for the alternate voices of HAES and body acceptance. I've been lurking in the fatosphere for a while, commenting on blogs, gathering strength and wanting to add my own voice to the mix. I'm going to try it now.

I love to bicycle. I came damn close to completing a century ride in August, and I'm planning on doing my first century in June. There is nothing, NOTHING better on long rides than stretchy lycra shorts with the chamois padding.

I'm fat enough that I was at first scared to wear lycra, then very self-conscious about it. I was embarrassed to wear the most practical clothing for the endeavor because, well, I was fat.

After I'd been riding for real for a while, a co-worker made some snotty comment about fat people and lycra. I wanted to dance on his desk in nothing but my bike shorts and a jog bra with both middle fingers upraised. I thought that might be a little rough on my career path, though.

I often thought about starting a group called Fat Chicks in Lycra. I wanted to be with women who rode, who skied, who walked, without self-consciousness. I wanted to be among women who loved good nourishing food. I wanted to be among women who enjoyed life, who moved with joy and who ate without apology. I've found them online, and I am grateful.

I'm happy to be a Fat Chick in Lycra.