Portland fit fix: How Revocycle is fueling an indoor cycling revo-lution

10497016_786437271406694_6294431965024901200_o

I have a theory that there are two types of people who work out: those of us who “embrace the suck” and find solace in the burn of each rep or the quiet rhythm of breaths and footfalls during a run…and those of us who try to tune everything out and just push through the pain with the aid of numerous distractions.

Well, as much as I’d love to tell you I’m a member of the former group, I’ve got to admit that I’ve always tended to fall into the latter. That is, until I stopped into Revocycle here in Portland and had an experience that, quite literally, redefined my idea of a good workout.

In an attempt to mix up my cross-training, I decided to check out one of founder Michael Hosking’s early-morning classes a few weeks ago. He started off by helping each student find the proper bike fit, down to precise angles for a safe ride, while reminding us that our goal was to use excellent position and practice beautiful form in an attempt to notice the muscles and the movement and the breath.

Ohhh no, I thought as I started calculating my odds of getting noticed if I ducked out the door. This is going to be the longest 50 minutes of my life. 

10413369_762729527110802_2344949315088219879_n

But after quashing those initial feelings of panic, I committed to opening myself up to the experience. After all, as Hosking explained, by paying attention to our bodies, pedaling exactly on the beat of song, tuning in to our breath and heart rate and engaging in mindfulness, we’d be maximizing the benefits of a cycling workout without putting ourselves at risk for injury.

And just because it’s not a loud, high-intensity workout doesn’t mean it isn’t tough; it just means you feel refreshed and rejuvenated after, rather than drained and exhausted.

“Finding the zone is about minimizing distractions,” he recently told Fitness magazine. “Music can help you do just that. If you focus on the rhythm and sync your pedaling or steps with the beat, you can help quiet racing thoughts. It’s moving meditation.”

9941_697380686979020_1199879964_n

And how! For the first time ever, I wasn’t tempted to speak a peek at the clock; time flew by as Hosking expertly intertwined music with instruction, and before we knew it, we were all drenched in sweat, smiling from ear-to-ear and entering our cool-down.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my approach to working out while in PT these past few weeks. Namely, learning that some of my major muscle groups had gotten lazy and stopped functioning — and that I hadn’t even noticed — has made me realize the importance of awareness with movement.

Clearly, my body’s trying to telling me that disconnection won’t cut it anymore. Removing excess ‘noise’ (both literally and figuratively) in workouts and getting into a more authentic ‘zone’ — in which I’m working hard and totally engaged, yet feeling profoundly peaceful — is not only more relaxing, but also powerfully effective.

And did I mention pretty darn addicting?

Portland-Metro area residents, your first two classes are FREE. Visit Revocycle.com for more information and to register. 

Advertisements

Detroit Marathon: Week 15 training recap

DTWwk15

Big news this week! Hint: It rhymes with “funning.” 😉

Yep, I’ve officially been cleared to run. Ok, so maybe it’s twice a week for five minutes at a time on the treadmill, but I’m thrilled A) to be making forward progress, and B) to be getting stronger.

IMG_1202

My PT even said I had a crazy-huge grin on my face at my last session when I realized I wasn’t feeling my previous aches and pains. But, oh, does running feel different now that I’m actually using my butt muscles! Go figure.

Here’s this week’s schedule; I get anxious thinking of all this peak mileage I’m missing…but I’m thankful to be able to run, regardless of pace (and still mulling over race-day goals…other than the primary objective of finishing healthy).

DTWweek15

And below is my actual schedule; as you can see, I’m still hitting it hard with PT and trying to keep my cardio up through non-impact exercises. I’m also substituting some serious (for me) bike mileage for my long runs, which will hopefully help me maintain the strength and endurance needed for 26.2.

  • Monday: Spin class (60 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: Elliptical (45 min), Bosu stabilization drills & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Swimming (40 min, ~1500m), jog on treadmill (5 min), strength training & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Revocycle class (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Friday: OFF, Bosu stabilization & plyometric drills, PT exercises
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40-60 miles), PT exercises
  • Sunday: Elliptical or swim (45 mins), jog on treadmill (up to 15 min), PT exercises

Two other highlights from the week, since I’m trying to remain positive and goal-oriented:

First, I’m finding a swimming groove. Whether it’s that I’m trusting my leg again or regaining some fitness in the water, I was able to cut two minutes off my 1500m time from last week and five minutes from the previous week.

IMG_1167

And second is this shot from my weekend long ride, which is pretty self-explanatory. If you like fall — and running — as much as I do, then you’ll understand why (surprise!) fall running is one of my very favorite activities.

So even though it’ll be some time before I’m out logging miles on foot, I’m thankful to be able to enjoy this view from my bike in the meantime. Especially because my days of riding outside in the sun are numbered this season, according to what all the Portland locals are telling me…

IMG_1165

Next week my PT and I will have some decisions to make. I’m registered for the Portland Marathon half on October 5, but I’m not stuck on the idea of running (or even walk/jogging it) if it’ll jeopardize my chances of being able to run my full 26.2 later next month.

As much as I’d like to start building mileage again soon — probably more so to mentally prepare for a marathon — I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself. The last thing I want to do is undo all the work we’ve done so far, so I told my PT I’ll do whatever she says as long as it’ll get me to the starting line in Detroit, healthy and ready to run.

So stay tuned for week 16 as the countdown to race day continues!

Detroit Marathon: Week 14 training recap

photo 2 (2)

So as not to bury the lede, I’ll start with the bad news: I’m still not running. And I had to back out of the Ragnar Napa relay this weekend as a result. It’s one of my few DNSs (Did Not Starts) to-date, which smarts, as does feeling like I’m letting my team down. But I keep telling myself to, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” because I’ve got to keep a long-term perspective.

Which brings me to my good news: PT is going well. So well, in fact, that I was able to slowly add in some impact exercises a few times this week to start testing how my leg is healing. No, we’re not back up to those 10-mile track workouts or tempos by any means, but I’ll take a few minutes of nearly pain-free skipping and jump-roping any day. Progress!

Here’s what would have been:

DTWweek14

And what actually was:

  • Monday:  Elliptical (45 min), physical therapy & massage
  • Tuesday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Revocycle class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Friday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 50 mi) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: OFF (cheering Hubby on in his triathlon!)

With the focus still off running, I’ve been wanting to bring more regular weight training back into my weekly workout regimen, but that will most likely be on hold for a few more weeks.

My PT has been keeping me busy with daily strength and stability exercises to keep my core working and my glutes firing, and if all goes well, I may (fingers crossed) get to do a little walk-jog work next week. Until then, it’s all about the Bosu.

photo

Other than that PT progression, there were two major highlights since last week’s training update: First was the 45-mile training ride I went on with my friend, Kevin. He pushed me further and faster than I’ve ever ridden before, but I loved every minute of it.

The weather was that perfect mix of summer sun with fall crispness in the morning, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to challenge myself mentally and physically while remaining run-less.

photo 3 (2)

The second, well, every time I tell this story to a non-runner, I get blank stares…but as a total #runnerd, I’m still excited about it. While we were out cycling Sunday, I saw a petite blonde woman running on the other side of a deserted stretch of road. She looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her until I was already past her.

Then it hit me: It was Shalane Flanagan, one of the top American long-distance runners.

You may remember her from the Boston Marathon this spring, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing about her again with respect to the upcoming Berlin Marathon (hint: she plans on breaking the American marathon record). But, regardless, it was thrilling to have a passing encounter with one of my running heroes, so I’m taking it as a good omen as I enter the final month before my own marathon.

photo 1 (1)

Thanks, as always, for following along as I count down to race day, October 19. Now, onward to week 15!

Detroit Marathon: Week 13 training recap

photo 3

One upside to being banned (for the time being) from running? Getting to mix things up for a change with my favorite forms of cross training!

For consistency’s sake, here’s what the schedule would have been this week. Yes, I realize I’m missing out on some peak mileage here (argh), but I keep telling myself that even though backing off may slow me down in the short-term, it’ll allow me to be stronger and healthier in the long run.

DTWweek13

So here’s a snapshot of my actual workouts for the week:

  • Monday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: 6-mile walk & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: OFF (migraine) & physical therapy
  • Friday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Saturday: Elliptical (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40 miles!)

Nope, it’s nowhere near the numbers or the intensity I should be doing, but I can assure you I’m still breaking a good sweat each day and challenging myself. In fact, it actually feels really good, mentally, to be doing some non-running activities and, physically, to be working some non-running muscles for a change.

photo 1

Another tip for staying positive amid a setback is to continue setting goals (within reason, of course) and striving for them. No, I may not be able to hit my weekly running mileage, but I can keep pushing myself on the bike and do some longer weekend rides to maintain that strength and endurance in the interim.

Plus, I’m loving all the quality time with Winnie, and it’s fun to try to keep up with Hubby, who is currently training for a triathlon.

photo 2

And in the meantime, I’m being religious with my physical therapy routine. From stretches to rolling, legs lifts to lunges, the exercises are something I can check off my to-do list each day to feel some kind of accomplishment — plus my PT says my mobility, range of motion, strength and stability are getting better, which is just the encouragement I need to keep it up.

photo 4

As for when I can get back to running, there’s no clear answer. Most of the aching has subsided in my shin, but there’s still a good amount of tenderness, so we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

My PT is pretty confident that I’ll be back on my feet in time for my race in Detroit in October, although I won’t be resuming my training schedule anytime soon. All I can say in the meantime is…onward to week 14!

Fave Fix: My must-have cycle gear for triathlon training

CycleGear

Last week I talked about my favorite swim gear for triathlon training, and now it’s time to move on to the second leg: Cycling!

It’s arguably the most expensive discipline, but that does NOT mean you have to empty your bank account in order to be competitive.

Again, I’ve broken it down into ‘essentials’ and ‘extras’ according to what I personally use, but you can stay as conservative or get as crazy as you’d like!

Cycle Essentials: 

– Bike: Duh. But while the whole ‘two wheels’ part is non-negotiable, the price you pay can vary greatly. I did my first few sprint-distance races on an older Cannondale commuter bike I bought off of Craigslist, for example, before moving up to my current Giant Avail Composite 3 (aka “Winnie”).

– Pedals: I also biked my sprint tris in running shoes (shhh!), but figured it was about time to get serious — and get clipped in — for longer distances. Enter the easy-in, easy-out Shimano Click’r pedals, which are technically more for mountain biking than road, but they still count. It’s all about baby steps!

– Shoes: Since I invested in my bike this season, I decided not to go all out on the footwear. Sure, a fancy carbon-fiber sole is stiffer and gives better transfer of power, but my standard Shimano cycling shoes do the trick just fine for now.

– Helmet: Eventually, I’d also like to upgrade my helmet to make sure my noggin’s better protected from concussions, but right now I have a basic Giro helmet that’s worked well for the past few years.

Cycle Extras: 

– Tools: While technically not essential to the actual riding part, having some tools to to a quick tire change will definitely help get you back up and running in the event of a flat. I have a spare tube, tire levers, bike-specific multi-tool wrench, CO2 cartridges and an inflator or pump. You can cobble this all together or buy the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle here.

– Kit: The more I ride, the more I appreciate a really good race kit. Case in point: Coeur Sports’ tri tank and tri shorts, which have a women’s-specific fit, plus other extras like anti-friction seams, antimicrobial fabric, seam-free chamois, plenty of pockets and more…all in super-flattering, fun designs.

– Accessories: This is mostly based on personal preference — and how fancy you want to get — but I have two favorites here: Tifosi eyewear and Ibex arm warmers to keep the sun (and bugs) out of your eyes and to take the edge off when it’s chilly out, respectively.

– Nutrition: I’m still practicing that whole multitasking (eating and drinking while riding) thing on the bike, but what’s been working well during brick workouts is Osmo Active Hydration and Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, so I’m planning on sticking with the same during Sunday’s race, as well.

What are your must-have items for cycling? 

What’s the deal with cycling?

seinfeld_rect

In a recent post, I channeled Jerry Seinfeld and talked about some of the fun idiosyncrasies of swimmers in the style of his popular “What’s the deal with…?” routine. Well, now it’s time to turn to cyclists, the second discipline in the triathlon trifecta.

So without further ado, here are a few questions I’d like to pose to my fellow riders now that I’ve immersed myself in the cycling culture during training. For instance…

What’s the deal with aerodynamics? 

Ok, I know what it is and why it’s generally important. But spending thousands of dollars in an obsessive quest to shave off mere milliseconds? Sure, I get why the pros and age-group podium contenders do it, but let me be clear — I’m talking about us middle-of-the-pack racers here.

I’m competitive and I want to improve as much as the next person, but there’s a point where it starts to get a little silly. After all, as I overheard recently at a bike store, “The least aerodynamic part of the bike is the rider, and there’s only so much you can do with that.”

What’s the deal with “bike love?”

I never quite understood affection toward an inanimate object…that is, until I met Winnie.

My trusty Cannondale commuter got me through several sprint-distance triathlons just fine, but once I set my sights on longer races, I knew that an upgrade would be inevitable. What I didn’t expect was that my feeling toward biking would turn from ‘meh’ to maniacal as a result.

Quite simply, it was love at first sight. Not only is she beautiful, but every new adventure we tackle together has also been full of pure joy and exhilaration. Our relationship has been moving along quickly, but I’m hoping (with more time together) we can go even faster because I’ve got a good feeling about this one…

bike-love-sign

What’s the deal with clipping in?

Just like aerodynamics, I understand the reasoning behind it, but still think it’s a funny concept. Especially the fact that falling over in slow-motion while clipped in is a rite of passage for many athletes.

What’s the deal with helmets?

Nope, I’m not talking about those oddly-shaped aero ones (although that could be a whole other blog post); I’m talkin’ about the fact that while bicycle helmets do a good job of keeping our skulls intact in a major crash, they do almost zilch to prevent concussions and other significant brain injuries.

Wait — what?!

Yep, I didn’t know that either…until a friend of a friend at a bike store mentioned it during our conversation about cycling gear. This article in Bicycling Magazine is a must-read on the topic; it goes into detail about bike helmets and the current state of the industry with respect to research on concussion and brain injury.

The article’s author puts it perfectly: “The choices cyclists make with their money matter. You can pretend to protect your brain, or you can spend more money and get closer to actually doing it.”

What’s the deal with the etiquette (or lackthereof)?

Finally, from feelings of intimidation when walking into bike stores to feelings of indignation upon being yelled at by cyclists while running and trying to share the road, I found it tough, initially, to develop the warm-and-fuzzies toward a culture that felt, well, kind of cold compared to running.

Luckily, however, my stubborn streak kicked in…along with a healthy dose of curiosity and a determination to succeed. So, sure, I’ve still got days where I suffer from major imposter syndrome (a “runner in cyclist’s clothing,” as I call myself), but it’s usually overridden by those feelings of euphoria mid-ride.

And for every person who went whizzing by without so much as a, “You ok?” while my girlfriends and I were on the side of the road trying to troubleshoot our first tire change, there have been others who warmly welcome newbies with open arms. Case(s) in point: my Coeur teammates, who patiently took me on my first long ride (clipped in, no less) — not to mention Gethyn, my “bike matchmaker” from Hank & Frank Bicycles, who helped me navigate the first-real-bike-purchase process.

Thank goodness for them — otherwise, there’s a good chance I might have been trying to compete in next month’s triathlon on my old mountain bike!

Any other cycling eccentricities that make you go ‘huh?’ 

Scenes from a Sunday ride of firsts

Source: Jess Smith

Source: Jess Smith

“Coeur” is French for “heart,” so it was only fitting that those of us in the Bay Area met up during Valentine’s weekend for our first of (hopefully!) many ladies’ bike ‘n’ brunch rides with Coeur Sports and Osmo Nutrition.

Interestingly enough, “coeur” is also the root of the word “courage,” and I ended up needing a good dose of it in order to get myself out the door this morning. To say I was nervous pulling up to our meeting spot would be putting it mildly…I mean, this group touts some serious racing resumes (we’re talking pro triathletes, Ironman finishers and all-around endurance sport superstars), and I’m still very much a noob when it comes to the swim and bike stuff.

Our hosts Hailey and Jess not only welcomed everyone with open arms, though, but they also offered encouraging words as I admitted to them that I was feeling super intimated and in waaay over my head. But before I knew it, we were off…and it was sink or swim (or more like punk out or pedal), so I rode along with my friend Amy, a fellow runner and November Project member, and we joined up with Doris, a local triathlete with whom we both hit it off immediately.

It turned out to be a ride of many firsts as we hit the road for our adventure:

First time meeting the Coeur crew in-person and cycling in a group…

photo (27)

First time riding in bike shoes and cleats…

photo (35)1

First time helping to change a flat tire (successfully, I might add!)…

photo (30)

 

Source: Doris Steere

Source: Doris Steere

First time taking in the beautiful scenery in Woodside, Calif. (although we did get a bit lost)…

photo (32)

 

photo (28)

First time realizing how good brunch tastes after a ride, especially when you’re surrounded by incredibly inspiring women…

photo (34)

 

photo (33)

And, finally, first time in a long time realizing you’re never too old to still have “firsts” — whether it’s making new friends, conquering fears, tackling challenges or simply believing in yourself…

photo (29)

We ended up riding about 18.5 miles total, which included almost 2,500 feet of elevation gain for what I dubbed the “thigh-thrasher” workout. While it ended up being a more, er, “creative” route (read: we got lost and took a totally different path), it was a good metaphor for the day: It’s not always about sticking to the planned journey; sometimes it’s when we veer off track that the magic truly happens.