Archive | March, 2021

How to start getting fit and trim

11 Mar


It turned out that my mountain bike and somebody to ride with the key to getting started “fitting up”.   The bike provided the exercise platform and the friend provided the ‘Come on, let’s go!” call to action  The friend also provided the before, during and after feedback.  I think feedback is an important tool we often misunderstand.  

A 2.5 mile ride around town was followed a couple days later by a 5 mile ride out to a river dike and over the grass out to the end and back.  I was completely spent after the second ride.  Exhausted!  

We both continued riding, sometimes alone, sometimes together, but always sharing what we had done and sharing the joy and pain.  We would challenge ourselves and each other to ride a little farther occasionally.  “Hmm, I wonder if I could ride 8 miles out to the next town and back?”   It was helpful to plan out a few loops so the return trip covered different ground than the outbound portion.  At 13.5 miles we concluded that the mountain bikes were not the most efficient vehicle for these over the road trips, so we both got road bikes.  I happened to find a cool triathlon bike on Craigslist for my first road bike.   I still have and love that bike, but I did eventually get a regular road bike also.  

Within only a few months we were riding 20 miles no problem.  It would take about 2 hours because of occasional stops.  

A funny thing happens after about 2 hours of riding, or any other strenuous form of exercise, you run out of energy in your legs.  Runners and bike riders call it “Bonking”.  I was riding one time and my speed went from 13.5 mph to 8-9 mph kind of all at once.  I was just exhausted for no reason it seemed.  Another friend we were riding with asked “Have you eaten anything since we started”, to which I answered “No”.  He gave me a potato and a candy bar and said wait 10 minutes and you’ll feel better.  I did, but not 100 percent still.  Once you “Bonk” it is very hard to get back to 100 percent.  Since then I have been vigilant to consume some calories every 30 minutes or so.  

Bonking occurs because your muscles run out of glycogen in your muscles and liver.  The liver actually stores quite a bit of glycogen and your muscles do also.  Who knew our liver is part of the fuel tank of our body?  I didn’t.  

On really long rides I would alternate drinking a bottle of Gatorade, then plain clean water, carrying a bottle of each from the start.  Cold steamed potatoes and dried Mangos or a Candy Bar would fill in also.  It is amazing the stamina that eating some Mango before climbing a hill or long incline can give you.  Plan to eat the mango at least 3 minutes before the hill.  When you are tired of eating sweet things, switch to the potato.  The body food to fuel conversion process works really good with potatoes.  

The connection between Nutrition and Exercise became a fascination for me.  It led me to eat more healthfully.  An after ride meal is very important because your body needs to replenish all of the glycogen that was used up riding.  Immediately after a ride, a chocolate milk and banana are a really good choice, followed about 30 minutes later with a nice meal containing vegetables.  

I can’t even count how many different towns I have biked through on my way to another town.  It is really amazing travelling town to town using only pedal power!

I could not jog at the beginning of this journey because my knees would experience great pain after only a mile jogging every time.  After about a year of riding though, the physical therapy of bike riding actually improved my knees to the point where I could jog a mile without pain.   I even used my triathlon bike to enter and finish 2 triathlons.

The exhaustion experienced in the early rides seems funny now looking back, because about a year into riding, we rode the Seattle to Vancouver ride in two days, and the next year the 202 mile Seattle to Portland ride in one day!  50-100 miles in a day was possible after just a year of training!  This still seems quite remarkable to me.  A good friend made the comment one day that the rides never get easier, you just get faster and go farther!  I have found this a particularly true statement.  

So I did get pretty trim and fit!  By adding jogging and swimming I became pretty happy about my fitness level, and the improved knee fitness.  I also discovered Foundation Training which improved my back and hamstring-glute connection fitness.  

I never finished any race in first place, but I never really cared about that.  I just had fun and did my best, at a reasonable pace!

Start your journey today!