Oops, I made an owchie

So, the weather is fantastic here in Switzerland, and I finally got motivated enough to bike into work.  It’s no small commitment, I have a 28 km ride, which includes climbing the Albis Pass.  Okay, it’s a pretty small pass, but my bike only has two front chain rings, so it’s actually a pretty tough hall, especially after a few weeks of slacking on the training.

My poor condition probably explains why I was feeling tired and easily distracted as I had to navigate the tricky traffic & trams around Bahnhoff Enge.  I was in the narrow space between traffic and a tram line, when I realized that I had gotten way too close to a tram island (basically a curb in the middle of the road).  I rubbed against it, and didn’t handle it well, and totally wiped out.  Below you see the result:

my biking injury

The worst thing is now I have to go and buy a new pair of leg warmers.  Well, okay that’s probably not the worst thing, but it does suck.

What I found surprising is how many of my colleagues suggested that I go to the doctor.  I did get the first aid kit from the hallway and clean and disinfect it myself.  Really, what more would a doctor do?    I wonder how much of my doctor reluctance comes from not having had health insurance for so long while living in the states?  Go team Obama on that one.

Overtrained again

Life has been very busy.

I picked up what may be the best training aid I have found to date:  “The Triathlete’s Training Bible” by Joe Friel.  It’s extremely well written and clear, and it touches on nearly all of the questions I have about training and recovery.  It’s so good I think anyone training seriously for anything, regardless of whether or not they have any interest in any of the triathlon disciplines, would benefit from reading it.  And of course it’s wonderful if you are training for any or all of the triathlon subsports.  It compiles a lot of information that is otherwise hard to find, or at least never synthesyzed elsewhere, to give the reader a better ability to coach him or herself.

A big issue in training is recovery time, and this is also true for fat-ass athletes like myself.  One point which is especially important for hobby athletes like myself is the problem of burning the candle at both ends.  I (and I don’t think I’m alone) have the tendency to think of my sports activities as fun and relaxind, something which I use to balance my work and intelectual stress.  Up to a certain point it works this way:  more sports means I’m able to work better and more effectively in an intelectual capacity.  It helps my mood, concentration and energy levels.  But too much stress, be it from work, personal responsibilities, trying to keep to my training plan, or even the purely physical stress of getting a bit rambunction on an exciting mountain bike ride, can tip you over towards that overtraining zone.  Go too far and the energy levels get low, recover time stretches out, and everything suffers.

On the other hand, you get your best performance if you regularly approach this overtraining level, without quite crossing the line.  Surfing the overtraining wave, but getting out before it crashes.  I’m not sure if Bettina and I are doing a good job of that, or a bad one.

Two weekends ago we did 1/4 of the Many-Hills show, a bike-marathon trail around Zurich.  We actually customize it a little, starting out at our home in Hirzel, biking down to Sihlbruck, following the traditional many-hills route over the Albis to the Uetliberg, and then taking the Uetliberg downhill into Zurich.  The last bit is total downhill candy, and primarily works out our finger muscles from all the riding the brakes.   We then take the train to Horgen, and ride over Horgen oberdorf back home to Erni.  This is maybe a little over 40km, and maybe something like 1200 m in climbing, but much of it is pretty steep, bringing our pulse rate about the 90% range.  So this compeletly kicked my but. Did a few easy workouts but I was still sore when  Sunday rolled around.

Sunday Bettina and I drove to Leukerbad, where we tried out the biking section of the Gemmi Triathlon.  I’m happy to report that our legs are up to the task.  Afterwards we hiked up in the mountains, camped out, had dinner, and hiked back down the following Sunday.

I’m always amazed out how a hike completely kicks our asses.  We both run, walk, bike and swim regularly, but strap on a backpack and hike 20-40 km with 1000-2000 m elevation, and man we suffer for days.  Today my legs finally feel somewhat normal, although my shoulders are still a bit sore.  But it was a beatiful hike, if a little stressy with the time constraints.   There was a good bit of scrambling and scary stuff, which was kinda fun.

I’m also happy to report that in the last year, while my weight has only dropped about 2km (from 92 kg to just under 90), my body fat percentage has dropped from 22% to just under 17%.    So probably by next year I’ll be back to my fighting form again.

Feeling good

This weekend I suffered terribly from overtraining.  On saturday B and I rode the bikes to Rothenthurm (which is about 24 km away, no terrible hills) to look at a new used car.  I was incredibly weak.  I could barely puff up the hills, which would ordinarily pose no problem.  We took the train home since I was so worn out.  I was supposed to be social and show up at a party for one of Betinna’s friends, but I was completly ko and had to just go and lie down.

Sunday wasn’t much better.  I felt completely worn out.  No energy, and in paritucular no strength in my legs.  I could barely make it up the stairs.  My legs weren’t sore, they just had no power.  I wore some long underwear which I though qualified as compression tights, and my compression socks all day.  I’m convinced that this helped.  I also worked through some stretching routines, which seemed to have immediate benefits.

This morning I woke up at 7:30, surprised that Bettina had woken and made it out of the house without waking me whatsoever.  But I felt refreshed.  I got my stuff together, packed up my backpack, and ran the 14 km to work.  I feel awesome now.  I’m not even vaguely fatigued.  I feel alert and energetic.  If anything I feel hyper.

It’s fantastic to finally be reaping some benefits from all of the training I’ve been doing.  For months I’ve spent most of my time feelilng fatigued, tired, and or sore.  I still have a little soreness, but it seems to be a good sore.  Okay I had a couple of rough days this week, but now I’m back at training fit.  So I think the Swiss bike masters 75km race is well within reach (5 weeks to go: 4 training, 1 taper).    I’m still holding flat at 90kg, but my body composition is certainly changing.

In the last month I’ve made the following changes to my training routine, which I think are working:  First, I’m doing a little yoga/stretching every single day, especially when I feel miserable.   Secondly, I’m taking creating supplements (which I will continue until the bike race, at which point I’ll stop until the triathlon).  Thirdly, because I’m focusing on the triathlon in the long run, I’m doing more multi-sport/cross training.    And it seem to be working so hooray.

Bettina seems to be suffering at the moment.  I’m hoping she’ll get her energy back soon, but it’s good that I get a chance to get a little lead on her in the training.  Maybe I can finally beat her in a race.