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Daily Archives: February 24, 2014

If you can’t do a push-up, is it still a push-up? And why do you care?

Picture this in your mind… Or look in the mirror next time you do a push-up…

You’re (or you see someone) in the set position, arms in close but at an ungodly angle. Butt a foot higher than your head. You make, with the ground, something short of but close to, an isosceles triangle.

Ready… Set… Few more seconds, okay… Ready… Set.. Go. You bend at the elbows and lower your chest exactly one and one half-inch. You push and strain to reverse your momentum… Your face turns an unhealthy shade of red… Then purple… And boom, you lock your elbows. Now for number two! Rinse and repeat four more times.  I saw this just last night before my daughter’s swim class (older kids).

Now that, folks, ain’t a frickin’ push-up. I don’t care what the excuse is, it doesn’t matter.

If you’re running around claiming you can do fifty push-ups when you can really only do fifty 1-1/2″ chest drops, you have an honesty problem. The fact that someone else chuckles as you’re doing them is surely a little rude, but c’mon man! Get on your knees and do the easy ones till you’ve got the strength and form to do them right… or something!

Now, this isn’t to take away from those who are trying to improve, but for the love of God, try just a little honesty!

I am a fair cyclist. Above average speed but I probably won’t get to the next level because I’m not willing to put in the effort, nor do I have a desire to get used to feeling that uncomfortable when I ride.  A 22 mph (21.7 actual) Century on open roads is good enough!  I don’t want to work any harder to get faster.  Period.  The point is, I’m happy with how I ride.  What someone else thinks of my being happy is none of my business.

The same goes for any other of the cardio activities.  Running, cycling or swimming…and push-ups too. I read a post yesterday in which the author was “fuming” at the suggestion made by sub-four hour marathoners that a fifteen minute mile is not running, that the cutoff is 4 hours.  She had a point too.  Humorously enough, I think I’ve come down on both sides of the issue depending on my mood and the day.

First, this is why I love cycling. Buy the equipment ride in a straight line on the correct side of the road and you’re a cyclist.

There are exceptions to this of course… If your bike has platform pedals, you “ride a bike to stay/get fit”. If you ride a mountain bike exclusively you’re a “mountain biker”.  The exceptions are purely my opinion though, as is the whole sub-four hour marathon debate.  It’s all opinion.

I don’t think the debate is the problem though.  What gets people fired up is the arrogance.   The “it doesn’t matter” crowd is angry with the “sub-four (or eight minute mile) crowd’s arrogance – and they are arrogant.  Humorously enough, the “it doesn’t matter” crowd, if they’re honest, will see that their opinion that it shouldn’t matter can be just as arrogant.

This debate boils down to one simple concept: Whether or not it should be law that anyone who is chronically late set their watch/clocks 10 minutes fast.  A compelling case could be made; think of all of the tardiness that could be cured, instantly!

On the other hand you have the normal people who are regularly on time and point out that setting the clocks fast ten minutes is a step below selling snake oil.  The practice is silly.  After all, you still know that the clock is set ten minutes fast!  How easy are you to fool that you can look at the clock and not know this?

Who cares?

The reason I picked the clock analogy is quite simple.  Mrs. Bgddy has every clock in the whole house, and her car, set at different times.  The bedroom clock is seven minutes fast, the mini-van is set twelve minutes fast, the cable box is set at the proper time because you can’t adjust it, as is her phone.  I find the whole thing hilarious – and believe it or not, I still get caught by both the mini-van and bedroom clocks every once in a while.  Here’s the important part though:  I love my wife – the sun rises and sets on her.  Because I love her, I choose to see the humor in the whole clock thing.  I could choose to get angry, to take offense, but what would that solve?

My wife is set in her ways, allowing myself to be frustrated over something so trivial would only hurt me.  I must always remember that I chose my wife – all of her wonderfulness and all of her faults.  In fact, had it not been for her faults, she may have picked a better husband.  Think on that for a minute.  The trick is using the same thought process for others – because I didn’t choose them.

I must maintain my own honesty – and I honestly don’t care what the difference is between a runner and a jogger.  At least today I don’t – because being happy is more important that who thinks what about whom.

Several years ago, on the phone with a very good friend and mentor, I was complaining about my wife.  We had gotten in an argument and I left rather than lose my temper.  I was whining about what a pain in the ass she was and how she wasn’t being rational and so on…  He said, “Jimmy, sometimes you want to throw them like a dart but you just gotta love ’em”.  I started back in, “Yeah but…”  And he interrupted me, “You just gotta love ’em”.   I started in again, “but…”  “You just gotta love ’em”.

I finally get it Mike.

Mountain Biking Essentials: The Chain Stay Protector

Ah, spring is about us and it’s almost mountain biking season up here in the great frozen north that is Michigan.  Mountain biking is a fun, cool side-sport for a devoted road cyclist.  I’ve always looked at it as being able to turn back the clock a little bit and behave like a kid – a chance to play in the dirt, jump my bike and other unrefined behaviors that one typically won’t take part in on the road.

This comes at a price however.  Being a cycling enthusiast of epic proportions, I love a good-looking, scratch-free bike.  In most cases, a clean paint job and mountain biking do not go hand-in-hand.  If I’m doing it right, I will crash from time to time.  On the other hand, there is one place to minimize unnecessary damage:  The chain stay (see photo).

Lizard Skins Chain Stay Protector

The one thing I noticed, and hated, when I first started mountain biking was how loud it was going down a rocky hill.  The chain would smack mercilessly on the chain stay as I bounced down the hill.  While new bikes do come with a nice little sticker over the top of the chain stay, with the amount of abuse I threw at that bike I knew it would only be a matter of time before I wore through the sticker and got into the paint and aluminum – or worse, if I hit a bump hard enough the chain would gouge into the softer material of the chain stay.

That’s about the time that I noticed my buddy Tim’s bike didn’t make all the noise that mine did – he had a Lizard Skin chain stay protector on his bike.  I picked one up that afternoon and cannot be happier with the way it quieted down my ride and kept the chain from scratching the chain stay.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that they do present another problem:  If they’re installed loose over the chain stay, so that they can move or slide about relatively freely, a chain stay protector will collect dirt and wear the stay where it’s not protected by that sticker.  Care should be taken to install them correctly and to make sure it stays relatively clean so dirt can’t work its way underneath.

How I Prepared for My First Century Bike Ride…

Cycling Season is upon us and with that comes new cyclists and an almost uncontrollable urge to achieve cycling greatness in line with running’s marathon:  The Century – 100 miles of pure cycling bliss.  The century, by far, is my favorite distance.  I ride at least four every season with a couple of training rides that come awfully close or go slightly over (90-115 miles)…

This post will be relatively short and is intended simply as a broad overview of how to get into shape for your first.  For a more detailed look, I have two posts on the subject, here and here.

There are a few main preparation points that will help even the greenest noob conquer the century, if you’re willing to put the work in – and it is a lot of work.

First and foremost is your bike and the equipment you’ll need.  I recommend a professionally fitted road bike but I’ve witnessed people complete centuries on knobby tire mountain bikes – they just finished after I was already home, fed, showered, had taken a nap and was out cutting the lawn (this is a facetious point, I don’t really know when they finished, you get the point though).  You should also have at least one spare inner tube, tire levers, either a CO2 or a frame mounted tire pump, a patch kit and a multi-tool with a chain tool on it – and know how to use all of the items.  For your saddle, unless you desire a numbed, chafed and bleeding sitting area, I recommend a real, fitted, gender specific road saddle with minimal padding and a pair of excellent cycling shorts.  I don’t care how big you think your butt is or how bad you think you look in those shorts, they’re a necessity.  Period.  After that, you’ll need H2O (and a sports drink/supplement), some snacks (my favorites are Jelly Belly Energy Beans [with caffeine] and ERG Energy Bars) and a fair amount of sunscreen – you’ll be out there in the sun for a while.

As for training, I chose to ride almost every day.  Not because I needed to but simply because I love to ride.  I rode 16 miles (Wed., Fri.), 20-35 on Tuesday, 35 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday.  Monday’s off, and this started in March.  At the end of April, I jumped into my first metric century (62.4 miles).  After that, I added a few miles to my Saturday ride (40-45 total) and kept with that until the beginning of July when I jumped again, for a training ride with some guys from my local club, to 80 miles.  A couple of weeks after that I did my first full Century ride, the Tour des Lac in Fenton.  You’ll notice, hopefully, that the jump in mileage was pretty big at each new milestone.  While cycling is work, it has been my experience that it is not like running where I would only increase by 10% at a time.  I was perfectly okay with doubling single ride mileage every two weeks to a month.  I did this, however, on professionally fitted, high-quality equipment.  Substandard equipment hurts more and that must be taken into account.

I can offer this one tip on how to jump mileage in relative comfort:  Take your average speed and knock 1-1.5 mph off of that for the longer distance.  For instance, my average pace was just shy of 20 mph for 30 miles (with no help or drafting).  I completed my first metric century on my own (no help/drafting) at 18.5 mph and I was pretty well spent but fine.  When I jumped from that to the 80 mile ride, that was done (with drafting help) at 19 mph.  After a full season of Centuries under my belt, last year I started working on speed.  I did the Tour des Lac at 20.5 mph with four other guys and the Assenmacher 100 at 21.7 with a large group.

Now, with all of that said, a word of caution:  Cycling a hundred miles is not easy.  At speed (17-20 mph) you burn almost two pounds worth of calories.  You’ll sweat anywhere from two to four liters from every pore on your body.  You’ll burn through enough salt to send your doctor into a conniption.  You will be sore after your first one.  It’s a lot of work, even if you do take it easy.  Prepare yourself well, work hard to get your body in shape for the effort and you will feel amazing afterwards.  You will know that you’ve done something exceptional and your friend’s jaws will drop in awe of the accomplishment.  Do enough of them and all of that stubborn fat that you’ve had a tough time with will melt away into svelte, slender lines and you’ll be left with legs of granite.

As with anything in life, it works if you work it.