As The Light Fails, Heading Indoors Again

I like the changing rhythms and habits of a training year.  Big goals are great, especially when I make them, but they require a lot of focus and well, a certain amount of suffering.  I can only do those 60-minute threshold sufferfests on the spinner so many times.  So October is the month I cut back and head indoors again.

I wouldn’t bat an eye at 12-15 hours a week for several weeks in a row during the summer.  Now I might average 7 hours.  I might have six outdoor rides in a good July week.  Now in early October, with school in session and daybreak a little before 7, my early morning rides are in the dark, if at all.

Now it’s a ride outside on Saturdays and Sundays and then indoors for the spinner two days during the week for about 40 minutes each.  Add two run/lift sessions of 45 minutes each and you have six workouts a week, but four of them at the gym.  In fact, I would say that about half my workouts in a given year are now inside.

It didn’t always work that way.  For years I did little exercise except for riding my bike.  I got a typical cyclists physique.  Thick leg muscles, scrawny arms and torso.  What some people now call N.U.B.S.  (No Upper Body Strength).  Then I started reading Fred Matheny’s book Training for Roadies and there was a chapter on strength training.

Matheny makes the point that it’s good to have a overall level of fitness, just bike riding fitness.  He even suggests a little cross training.  So I developed a series of exercises based loosely on his suggestions.   I now spend 15 minutes doing a walk-run-walk exercise (2 minute walk, followed by 11 minutes at a 9-min mile pace, followed by 2 minute walk), then 30 pushups, then a series of weight exercises (leg press, crunches, seated rows, barbell curls, lateral pulldowns).

For most of the year, I do two of these run/strength workouts a week and cut back to once during June through September.  I tend to injure my legs running outdoors, so I do almost all of my running on the treadmill.  Once in a while I’ll venture out, as I did last week in Massachusetts when I ran 10k.  It’s a good feeling, after riding nearly 6,000 miles on a bike outdoors, that I could also do a 10k in about 53 minutes.  I probably never did that in high school.  So there, younger self.

I really hate indoor cycling, but its training benefits are substantial.  It is simply the most economical way to get in a quality workout.  For instance, this morning I rode indoors for 40 minutes on the spinner, including 20 minutes at 248 watts, the second highest I’ve done for that time period, four watts less than my record three weeks ago.

Frankly, it was hard to focus for those 20 minutes.  I’m sweating profusely without any breeze, my stomach is in knots and my legs are alive with pain.  But I felt good knowing that I could still approach my season highs for at least one more week.  But I know how this works.  My fitness is tailing off and will continue to do so until sometime after Super Bowl Sunday.  Then, if all is well, I’ll start gaining it back again.

WEEK 7 hrs 23 min

GOAL 7 hrs


I’m in the off-season/transition phase.  No big goals for a while.  I’ve cut way back on weekly hours.  Now I have to be on guard for weight gain.

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