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More P-O-W-E-R! How Much Do You Need for Speed

How much power do you need to average 16-mph? How about 20-mph? What about going big time… 23-mph? How about for a 30-mph+ mile with a bit of a tailwind? Oooh, I’ve got one for you. How’s about a 35-mph sprint finish?

I’ve got the answers, but you’re going to have to adjust for weight… I’m 6′ tall and 172 pounds. I’m not a climber… too fat. 146 watts average. 182 watts average. 254 watts average. 459 watts average. 900-ish peak watts.

So the question becomes how long can you hold that average wattage? The 900 watts, for one of us weekend warriors hurts but not as bad as the 459 watt mile… I puked in my mouth after that. Twice. The rest were all in a pack over 29-ish miles and took 1h:13m to 1h:50m. All verified as “close enough for government work” through friends who do use power meters, and by Strava which manages to guesstimate power pretty accurately.

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A few of the serious cyclists I know train with a power meter, but only a few. Power meters add quite a bit of cost to an already expensive sport and the question I like to ask about the practice, is how necessary is it or would the benefit be worth the money?

I have never felt the need to run out and pick up a power meter for my bike. I’ve been tempted, usually after a tough ride, but I’ve never gone as far as pricing them out or looking at reviews to determine the best. I also don’t race. All of the riding I do is experience related – I ride for the fun of riding, with a bunch of friends.

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I’ve managed to train blind to a point I can contribute in a 23-mph average ride on open roads, the only piece of equipment needed, other than the bike and a couple bottles of water, is a simple cycling computer that shows current speed. The most important thing I needed to bring to the dance was a lot of want to. Speed is all about will. You either have the will to get used to riding fast or you don’t – and most don’t because you have to put up with a lot of self-inflicted pain. Given enough time and mileage, though, the body comes around so the speed isn’t quite so painful.

While that sounds good, there’s a problematic hook to it – eventually I ran out of want to. I can manage 23 just fine – and spend a little more than my fair amount of time up front. I can’t hang with the 25-mph group for more than 20 miles. I simply run out of gas – and the “want to” required to train hard enough to keep up for that extra 2-mph just isn’t there.

Then the question comes down to whether or not a power meter would help. The obvious answer is sure, but do I need to go that far? I don’t think so. I’m fast enough to put a smile on my face, and that’s good enough for government work. In the end, that’s really what is important.

When I stash the Venge in the bike room after another great ride, knowing how hard I pushed on the pedals doesn’t matter. What matters is the experience and the memories I’ll take from cycling.

A power meter won’t improve those… and it appears Strava can do the rest, anyway.

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Relentless Positive Attitude

Paul W. Smith, a local radio personality, likes to add in his daily broadcast, based on an interview from years ago, the phrase “relentless positive mental attitude”.  I have used that phrase for decades, simplified by one word, since I sobered up.  I just couldn’t put a simple phrase to it until I heard it….

A potent secret to my success is a relentless positive attitude.

Rather than look at things negatively, even when “bad” things happen, I look for ways to add “good” to the situation rather than detract from it.  How can I improve things rather than make them worse?  This is relentless positive attitude.

This isn’t to say we’re always smiling and chipper – that would be near impossible.  On the other hand, the only way I know to be smiling and chipper most of the time is to pursue a positive attitude relentlessly.

I can have happiness or anguish – it’s all how I choose to look at life.  Even when life sucks just a little bit.

Reasons I Love Recovery – Part One

Being an active member of the recovery community has one benefit, beyond the obvious (not dying, not being in a psych ward, or in prison); I am part of group of survivors.

We have survived a seemly impossible disease. Many will say the this disease “takes everything” good in life from us, but I believe that is too kind. I gave everything to be drunk. Some would call it semantics, but not me. I believe in taking ownership of my disease.

We who recover are a part of a community who have seen hell on earth and have come out on the other side to tell the tale. We are a part of something bigger than our own self. Better than.

And this is why so many of us are happy. For us, just to be on the right side of the grass, pumping air and happy, is like winning the lotto every day.

It’s the daily four lotto, not the big one, but you get the idea.

Begging God to help me get sober was the best thing that I ever did. All things good in my life are a result of that one minute.

I love my sober life.

What Happiness is to Me; Or Maybe What It Isn’t.

I think, to get to what my version of happiness is, I first have to get into what it isn’t.  Too often I see mistakes being made in what happiness isn’t.

Being happy, to me, is not the absence of strife, struggle, conflict, hardship, or difficulty.  Baby, that’s life.  Trying to find a life devoid of those things is like chasing a rainbow-farting unicorn… and deciding one can’t be happy until that unicorn is found and befriended.  Good luck, there’s no such thing – they call it mythical for a reason.

Happiness isn’t getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want.  I was five-years-old the last time I truly experienced that pleasure.  Happiness isn’t “easy” living, either; a sober, clean life is anything but easy.

Happiness, to me, is being content with what I’ve got.  It’s being comfortable in my own skin.  Happiness is being grateful for the life I have, or the life that was given me by my Higher Power after I asked for His Grace…  Happiness is doing the best with what I’ve got.

… and when I need a reminder, a bike ride with my wife and friends will do the trick.  Money won’t buy happiness, but it buys bikes, and that’s good enough for government work.

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A Perfectly, Wonderfully Fantastic Day… On a Road Bike

Saturday, January 5th… we should be buried in snow till March. We’re not, though. And we even had some sunshine.

It’s been a month or two since I rode my Trek outside. The Diverge gravel bike is nice, but there’s not much impressive about it. The tandem has been wonderful – especially with the new fenders that have kept the bike from getting too gnarly on wet roads… the tandem is a lot of work, though.

My road bikes, though… they’re spectacular. There’s just something about a lightweight, exceptionally fast road bike that puts a smile on my face…

Mrs. Bgddy and I decided to leave the tandem in the bike room, to opt for the single bikes. She’s got the new Specialized Power Mimic saddle and I wanted to see how she liked it. And I just wanted to ride the Trek outdoors.

We I readied the bikes, including dialing in my wife’s new saddle and swapping pedals from the tandem to the road bikes. I filled the water bottles and pumped the tires.

We rolled the bikes out… Chuck had ridden over and Doc Mike was parked on the side of the road and had his bike ready. It was cold, just 25° (-4 C), but the sun was shining in all it’s cloudless glory, a faint remnants of frozen fog hung in the air – just enough to make the first five miles a little skittish.

Not to mention, having ridden so many trainer miles on the Trek over the past couple of months, my first half-mile was almost comical how wobbly I was. I actually laughed out loud… through gritted teeth, of course. It seemed it might be a little slick in places.

Then the sun did its thing. In Michigan, we get a lot of cloud cover from October till April because we’re surrounded by the Great Lakes, so it’s a rare day we see the sun like that. A good morning for a winter ride became a great day, almost instantly.

We fought what little wind there was on the way out, over the first fifteen miles. Heading into Byron I hadn’t planned on going for the sprint but Doc Mike was up front and all of a sudden he was out of the saddle and going for it. I kicked it up to hold his wheel, but then my wife popped into my peripheral vision. She was going for the sign too. That’s all I needed.

I went straight after it. Out of the saddle and crankin’. Strava says I was only three seconds off of my personal best on that stretch. I got the 5200 up to 30-mph and took the sprint by a goodly margin.

A short stop at our usual gas station and we were headed home, tailwind almost the whole way. I wore a smile on my face the whole way. Just being in a pace-line, with the sun on my smiling mug, the pace just north of 20-mph, it was therapeutic. It made me remember why I like being me so much.

We added a few extra bonus miles so we could get Chuck closer to home before splitting off and heading for home ourselves. We pulled into the driveway with 30.6 miles at just north of an 18-mph average (29 km/h). It was an easy, fun pace the whole way.

It was a perfectly, wonderfully fantastic winter day. They don’t make them much better than that – and I needed it!

My (Un)Pro Bowling Career… A Fantastic Addition to My Cycling Habit

I’ve mentioned my enjoyment of bowling a time or two on the blog but I’ve never gone beyond the odd mention.

Friends, I love me some bowling.

I’ve been on an autumn through winter sober league for going on eighteen years. I’m not great, but I’m absolutely above average. I hold between a 170 and 180 average, my best being 183. Not great, but not bad.

Well, this year I was invited to the bigs as a sub. The Friday night league. I’ve participated six or seven times this year and it hasn’t been pretty. I went from the equivalent of the fun league to a league where a decent average is fifty pins higher than mine.

To illustrate, I’m happy when I get a messenger to shoot across and clip the ten (I’m a leftie) – it’s a cool shot. I saw a guy last night whose revs were so high he was getting a double messenger – one from each side. And on more than half of his strike shots. His worst game was a 233.

So I’ve had a double-whammy problem with Friday night. I don’t put a lot of money into bowling. I have three balls – a sixteen and two fourteen-and-a-half’s. They’re all hand-me-downs I’ve collected over the years. Two were already drilled leftie and just right and I had one filled and drilled for me. I’ve had the same shoes since I started bowling all those years ago…. and therein lies the rub. Those old-@$$ shoes.

They started sticking about six weeks ago, out of nowhere. I’d get four good shots and they’d start sticking (as soon as the soles warmed up). I went from six or eight inches of slide to having to plant my foot, trying not to fall on my face. I’d have good games and really bad games, and God forbid I bowl against someone who dropped the ball before the line, a little oil on my shoe would make it worse.

Well, I was a little slow putting all of this together – it takes a minute to read the post, but it took weeks to figure the order of the clues.

Last Friday I cleaned my shoes and scuffed the leather slide pad, hoping that would cure my ills. It was better, but not near enough. I ordered a new pair of shoes. I finally was going to have to put some money into my other hobby.

They showed up ten minutes before I pulled into the driveway yesterday, and an hour before I had to leave.

My first and second games were a little ugly, trying to get used to being able to slide again… and then I ran into one on the third game. Everything clicked and when I realized I wasn’t thinking about sticking anymore. I went from the 150’s to a 214. I was finally able to run into a few.

Like in everything else, if you want to get better, hang out with people better than you… and keep coming back after you’ve figured out you want to quit because you’re not good enough.

It’s only after that point I get better.

Digital EPO/Doping? For Those with a Little… Err… FTP.

My friends, for the love of God and all that is Holy, there’s a new way to lose friends and shun yourself…  It’s called Digital Doping.

I can remember a while back, a fella who commented on the most popular post I’ve ever written (How I Got Fast – A Noob’s Guide to a 23-mph Average) accusing me of lying about the fact that I’d done rides averaging 23-mph.  He required that I supply him my Strava info as proof, because obviously, if it didn’t happen on Strava, it didn’t happen.  Instead, I gave up some data from my Endomondo account (because I didn’t use Strava back then).  I hammered him pretty hard, too, for being an @$$hole about it.

This year, our B Group managed 23-mph, or very close to it, several times on Tuesday night – and I’m hooked up to Strava now, so the rides actually happened (thank goodness).  Long story short, I was pretty hot that the person who left the comment challenged me to begin with.  After all, who would lie about such a thing?!  You’d have to be a loser of epic proportions… and then I read there’s a site out there that scrubs and boosts one’s Strava data.

My friends, if you’ve come to a point where you’ve gotta artificially boost your stats on Strava, hang up your cycling shoes and melon protector for a minute, get your ass on a mountain bike on a trail somewhere and take a few hours to remember why you ride a bike in the first place.

While it is fun to write posts about what it feels like to be in a pace-line that averages 23-mph (and it’s even better to be able to be one of the horses of that group), eventually you’re going to have to back those bogus stats up in a club setting and “I just don’t have the legs tonight” isn’t going to cut it when you get dropped in the first five miles.

It’s better to be honest about the phone book full of people who can beat you than to lie and have it come out that it’s actually two phone books full of people who can beat you.