Friday, January 22, 2010

riding & (aack) running

I've been trying to run a little more this off season. I know. I can hardly believe it either.

But, since time, weather, and other constraints keep me from being able to ride everyday (but oh how I would love to if I could--I don't think it's so much about fitness or training, it's just that I love riding's just that awesome), I've been trying to run on the off days.

Since there are so many reasons not to run (I mean, come on, no matter how you dress it up, running just sucks), I have to keep reminding myself of the reasons to run. Here are some:

(1) It's faster. You can get more of a workout in less time running than riding (though you certainly can't cover as much ground, it's certianly not faster in that regard). I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that, but probably I mean that I get tired faster. My legs do, anyway. The rest of my body is usually disappointed at just a 45-minute workout. Maybe what I really mean is that at equivilant heart rates, your muscles are working less hard running than they would be running. In other words, to maintain something like 140 bpm I feel more muscle fatigue on the bike than I would running. I think. Whatever.

But mostly by "it's faster" I mean it takes less time to get prepped (dressed, etc.) and de-prepped for and from a run than a ride, it's much easier to do in the dark, and I get tired faster so I'm actually exercising for less time.

(2) It's social. Which is to say I get to run with different people than I ride with. I like that.

(3) I like to be in "running shape." While it's not a key focus, I like to be in good enough shape that if I do run hard I don't pull both calves and generally hurt for a couple of days.

(4) I lose weight faster. This is big. For whatever reason I lose weight way faster running regularly--say, three hours a week--than I do riding regularly--say, ten hours a week.

(5) I like to run the occasional race/fun run thing. Whenever circumstances allow, I love to run a turkey trot 5K on Thanksgiving. (This year I did it in about 18:20, but the course may have been short.) If it works out, I've been mulling over the Chambersburg half marathon in March. I last did a half marathon in college, some 13-15 years ago. On minimal training, I finished in 1:31:30. It's always sort of pissed me off that I couldn't at least get under 1:30 for a half marathon.

(I think I like making lists.)

Anyway, so I've been running, sort of, the past several months. Most weeks I do well to run twice a week. Some weeks I don't run at all. But this is the thing, my body just doesn't like to run as it did when I was a kid. I don't feel good when I'm doing it. It beats me up. Sometimes my knees hold a faint ache the rest of the day.

I could ride 2-3 hours everyday, some days hard, some days not, probably forever and just love, love, love it. I'd feel good all-around. But running... If I don't run for a week and then get out for 40 minutes or so, it feels pretty good. But when I run two days in a row, or even with a day in between running days, I invariably feel crappy on that second day. And I'm not trying to run hard--probably seven to eight minute miles, usually.

It's weird. But more evidence of the foolishness of running.

My sense is, painting with a broad brush here, that running is something the contemporary (evolutionarily speaking) human body can do, and do quite well if trained for it, but indeed something the body would just rather not do. Or at least not do that much of it. As I tell people all the time, the only future in running is bad knees, broken ankles, hip trouble, and probably a few surgeries.

Ride a bike. Run sparingly.'s for the dogs.


On a completely different note, I think this is awesome. And it reminds me of this bit of awesomeness from a while ago.

Quick summary: This south Australian riding club picked a rider at random and became fans. Well, someone at random given a few constraints: someone doing their first pro race at the Tour Down Under and someone who doesn't speak English. Then everyone became a hard-core fan and promoted the dude relentlessly. They printed t-shirts. They painted the road with his name. They went all Facebook crazy. The dude is a nobody and he has more fans than anyone else there.


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