30 July 2011

Cycling: 30 July

Today was the first group ride I attended with the campus cycling club. They have mountain/trail bike sessions on Saturday and Tuesday evenings for an hour. I have never before ridden as part of a group (unless you count that one time I wheezed up Connecticut Avenue from Adams Morgan to Cleveland Park and pretty much gave up while the two others traveled ahead to the coffee shop to wait for me).

Today, however, I kept grinning like no one's business. It was pure awesome. Glorious. Amazing. Sweaty. I feel tired, but I could have whipped it out, climbed some hills, and fallen a few more times. I only fell once, trying to mount a 5-foot-tall sand incline thing. Everyone else was doing it, but I was timid and didn't power through. But I'm fine (I know you worry)--it wasn't a steep incline, so I could easily catch myself as I slid back and tumbled.

Riding through sand, however, is tough work. It's worth it, however--it's much more fun and effective doing road/trail/beach riding than random resistance training on the stationary bicycle at the gym. I got a much better workout outside than I believe I ever would have on the bike inside the gym. Plus, I got to meet a lot of cool people--and even prodded one of them to get some work-related stuff done for me.

I would love to log a route on MapMyRide, but it doesn't have satellite imagery that includes the campus (a problem encountered because of the expedited university construction). I was told the 1-hour ride was about 15 kilometers (almost 10 miles). So it isn't a terribly far distance, but there were hills, beaches, and other parts that made it a challenge. Although I'm sure many of my friends wouldn't have any issue at all riding here--it is, in actuality, very flat and nice, and as long as you bring enough water, it's not very different from riding in Washington, DC--except for the almost complete lack of traffic.

28 July 2011


I have found many reasons not to exercise this week. I have suggestions of "gym," "yoga," and "cycling" in a reasonable schedule on my calendar--it adds up to about 9 hours of physical activity a week. I think that's a good number! And how much of that did I do this week? Exactly none of it, so far. I still have the chance to go to the gym tomorrow, before the full week is over and I wasted it by not working out. But I'll probably skip that and just make some delicious gyungdan for a house party late tomorrow afternoon.

But as a self-flagellatory exercise, let me list the excuses I found reasonable at the time here:

  • DC State Fair Board Meeting
  • Goodbye dinner for departing coworker
  • Goodbye lunch for same departing coworker
  • Lunch with nondeparting coworkers
  • Waiting to have a meeting that never happened and didn't have a lunch break
  • Had to "get stuff done" that never got done
  • Had to prepare food for a late brunch I invited people to

Lately, my work schedule has been a bit up in the air--things happen with only minutes for me to prepare for them, sometimes. Or things that I prepare for don't necessarily happen. So although I do get lunch every day, sometimes it's later than what seems reasonable, and those days, instead of taking a late lunch break to go to the gym, I grab some food and come back to the office. After work is always hard, as a general rule for tons of people. The desire to just go home and veg out is strong in most of us. It's doubly strong for me, as I am attempting not to fall at the running pace of DC State Fair stuff as well as still unpacking and keeping in contact with loved ones.

Maybe I'll start getting some sort of order in my life, in terms of exercise, at least. Or, I might have to start being comfortable with squeezing it in wherever I can and just acknowledging that it might not be at my most motivated times.

27 July 2011

Machine: Bicycle

Not the stationary kind, either! No, this baby is fully functional: 24 speed, 19.5 inch frame, rugged 26 inch wheels for both trail and town riding, hydraulic disc brakes, coil-spring front suspension with hydraulic lockout (I don't really know what that means, but it has it!), Shimano gear shifts, pleasing black and white design with random red accents... What more could a man ask for?

Perhaps a bike rack and a lock? And a well-adjusted bum, too. I have had this bike for a week, and my poor little cushion is all sore. I don't really ride it all that much--to and from work, primarily. I joined the Cycling Club on campus, and I plan on attending their hour-long rides on Saturday and Tuesday evenings, but I still need a water bottle and holder for the bike, as well as the motivation to leave work early enough to go home and change into different clothes before the rides.

I feel as if this bike needs a name. It has personality. I want to call it something like "Railbank." I don't know why it popped into my head, but it did and I like the sound of it. Then I Googled, and it turns out railbanking is a real word--it is the process of preserving unused train tracks that are sometimes converted into public-use cycling trails. I thought it would be more like using a guard rail or even hand rail to bank (in the sense of altering your vertical position to a tilted one while turning, not the act of going to the financial institution to store monetary goods), but I guess reclamation for recreation is bad-ass, too.

20 July 2011

Gym: 20 July

Today, despite my soreness, I wanted to try to repeat Monday's routine. I even had fantasies of attending tonight's yoga class. But driving full-tilt after such a long period of almost utter nonmovement isn't healthy, and all those collarbone breaks and physical therapy taught me to listen to my body when it says "Halas!" (One of the very few Arabic words I've been able to pick up--it means "Enough!")

I overworked myself on Monday--not in an incapacitating way, but I'm more sore than I'd like to be two days after a workout. It also shows me how much stretching I don't do, and I definitely should be.

The stationary bike was broken today, so I hopped on the treadmill. For 12 minutes. That may possibly be the longest time I've been on such a contraption in well over a year. I don't deal well with running, although I find I'm able to last much longer on a treadmill than outside (where a block and a half is about as far as I get). I averaged 9.1 kilometers per hour (about 5.65 miles per hour) and was doing a preset incline gradient program. There were periods of 2%, 3%, 4%, and two 6% spikes sandwiched between no-incline portions. I increased the speed of the treadmill during the incline periods, but really and truly, running kicks my butt, so on the flat portions, I slowed it down to a nice walk so I could wipe my face, grab some water, and check my heart rate for fun (highest was about 167, although it descended rapidly to about 140 before the next incline/speed increase).

I repeated the 50 kilogram lat pulldowns from Monday, but this time pushing through 12 reps in both sets.

I wimped out on the pec machine, however: 2 sets of 10 reps with only 35 kilograms. But my pecs are more, well, not-pecs.

And that was all. Less than 30 minutes of activity (tinkering with the broken bike and alerting the staff about it ate up 10 minutes, and I had to grab some lunch before a meeting). But that's less than 30 minutes I would have otherwise not been active at all. Success!

Machine: Pec

The pec machine works, well, the pecs (pectorals). Instead of man-boobs, I hope to develop functional muscle groups that also look stunning outside of a shirt.

19 July 2011

Machine: Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown machine works the shoulder, biceps, and back muscles. (Trap, biceps, and lats--thus, lat pulldown machine.)

Workout: Side-Rotating Weight Things

Using my iPhone, this is the best I could do to record the side-rotating weight things.

I hold a side plank position and rotate my upper body to put my hand with the weight through the space between my chest and arm. I can never remember whether I'm supposed to rotate my hips or not, but I don't think I'm fully supposed to. It works a hell of a lot of muscle groups, but I like it because I think it works the sides of my abs.

I will have to figure out how to take better videos if I want to keep posting them. I was at least able to remove the sound--there was a British lady on the television in the gym talking about something or other, and I was breathing heavy and counting audibly.

Yoga: 18 July

I attended my first-ever yoga session last night. My best friend Brittany is a big ol' fan of yoga, so it seemed appropriate to spend the evening of her birthday doing yoga for the first time.

It was a great experience--static holds are not something my muscles are used to, but I enjoyed the hour and definitely sweated. I'm very sore all over, kind of like the first time I did parkour. Both yoga and parkour seem to hit most of the muscles in your body--and when you're unused to using them, it's amazing where you end up feeling sore. The soles of my feet are killing me right now!

Gym: 18 July

I am trying to go to the gym under the library during lunch--it's outside my office and right down the stairs, so there's no real reason why I can't go regularly. I have gone a few times, but I'm turning it into a regular habit and will hopefully follow through if I engage myself by posting those workouts here.

The first log is from yesterday, 11:55 AM to 12:45 PM.

I cycled for 5 minutes on the stationary bike to warm up before starting a kind of random-hill-type activity for 33 minutes. I am still figuring out how to use the bike--it's not as fancy as the preset-activity ones I'm familiar with. I have found it difficult to build up to even this length of time on the stationary bike. I have been on it about three or four times in the past two weeks, and each time has been easier, but I feel like I'm slogging, not pumping along as I had been before.

The following numbers do not include the 5 minute warm-up session.

Average speed: 18.4 miles per hour
Average heart rate: 145 beats per minute
Heart rate high: 171 beats per minute

I stretched my legs for about 3 minutes, focusing on my hamstring, mostly, which is tight as all get out anyway.

Then I worked on the lat pulldown machine--2 sets of 12 and 10 reps, both at 50 kilograms (about 110 pounds). I had been doing 2 sets of 15 reps at about 100 pounds back in DC, so I'm satisfied with this.

I did 1 set with 10 reps of plank walks. Kind of like this video I found, but I don't use the inertia of my swinging lower body to help me in the motion.

I did 10 reps on each side of side-rotating weight things (video) that my DC personal trainer Hanna taught me. The weight was 8 kilograms (about 17.6 pounds)--the other option was only 4 kilograms, and that just seemed too little to me. I think I had built up to 15 pounds when my personal trainer made me do these, but I also did more than one set (Sometimes. I think.).

I then attempted a hollow hold, which lasted for 15 seconds. Then I did 15 crunches, followed by demotivation and a shower.