Don’t tell my competitors, but I’ve been keeping fit—very fit—lately. It wasn’t even intentional, but I started swimming in January and then got on the trainer shortly thereafter. I’ve managed to keep it up for a few months now, and, consequently, I’m pinching less fat on my lovehandles than I have in a long time.
I’ve been shooting more for frequency on the bike than total volume this year (although I’ll be doing my longest-duration event if I get signed up with the rest of the relay team for LOTOJA). I’ll squeeze in a half-hour or an hour of riding as often as I can, throw in a swim here and there and, of course, do some low-weight, high-rep weightlifting as it fits my schedule. And, so far, it feels like it’s working.
I ran into one little snag last week, however. We had a family get-together in which someone (possibly me) launched a push-up contest. Well, I didn’t think anyone was doing very good form, and I got to thinking that I could do more poor-form push-ups than anyone else there (I was once a push-up nut, you know). So I hit the ground and got going. Sure enough, 85 pathetic poor-form push-ups later, I beat everyone. Trouble is, the next day, my back was sore—a trademark of doing poor-form push-ups—and it’s been sore ever since.
So it was a bit odd that I decided to add yet another session to my training schedule this week. I went for a jog up the side of a pretty steep hill the other day. It was about 15 minutes of uphill running followed by 11 minutes of downhill running on a dirt road. It actually felt like a pretty comfortable workout, to be completely honest (the downhill left my hips flexors and glutes a little sore), and, unlike the last time I went pavement running, my knees came out of it feeling okay.
So yeah, I kinda liked it.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument against hill running for cycling preparation. On one hand you have jimmy-strength-mountainbiker-guy who says it creates an inconsistent muscle firing pattern. On the other hand, you have Ned Overend, who says things like this: "I have always been a big cross-trainer. Instead of just cycling in the off season, I’ve Nordic skied, been a mountain runner and, from the early days, I’ve always done a little bit of swimming. I like the idea of being a very well-rounded athlete — meaning upper body and your hamstrings, not just your quads."
So this year, I’m subscribing to the Ned Overend school of thought on the matter. Besides, I actually agreed to do a 1,500-foot elevation gaining, 5-mile pavement run with my in-laws in June, so I need to get in some kind of hill running shape for that. After June, of course, I’ll drop the running entirely to get ready for a pair of cycling events in August and September, but for now, I’m thinking I need to wear out my running shoes.
Now if I could just get my back to loosen up.