Friday, May 24, 2013

Shorter days, bigger effort

Ugh. Winter and its short, dark days. (Image source))
Whoa. Where did my week go? I swear it was Monday just yesterday...

You know those weeks where it feels as though all your days fly past in a blur of: Training, work, cooking, eating, sleeping, rinse, repeat? Yeah, it's been one of those.

I put it down to the effect of the shorter days. During the lovely, long days of summer, I seem to easily fit so much more into twenty-four hours than at this time of year. I mean, yesterday I noticed that the sun had set by 5:15pm. Blah. I have a natural urge to hibernate when it's cold and gloomy, not to mention dark for like fourteen hours a day.

So it's kind of strange that I've had absolutely no difficulty getting up early every day to train. A couple of times I've even found myself wide awake a few minutes before the alarm was due to go off. Mind you, I still don't like getting out of my warm bed when it's chilly out, but my commitment is holding firm.  I'm a woman on a mission, and that mission is to regain my former fitness and strength, however long that takes.

This week's training has really taken things up a notch. First, there was the weekend, where on Saturday I decided to treat myself to a Spinervals workout and on an impulse, pulled out one of the On The Road series. It was the Tucson Training Ride, and I picked Workout B, the Gates Pass ride (there are two), which is described like this:

Workout 'B' is a varied workout for aerobic development and power building and will have you ride up the front side of famous Gates Pass Road into the breathtaking beauty of the Saguaro National Forest where you'll buzz around McCain Loop Road. Then the suffering really happens as you climb up the backside of Gates Pass which kicks up to over a 14% grade! 

Sounds like fun, no? Good thing my idea of fun is different to most people's. This was an absolute killer sixty-five or so minutes of hill climbs, with some downhill sprints now and then for relief. The pretty desert scenery provided a small amount of distraction from the pain. ;o)

On Sunday, of course, I did the 300 workout.

Monday, I took it easy. No, I did not sleep in; I went to the gym and did an easy-ish thirty-five minutes of cardio, alternating between the treadmill and elliptical. Then in the evening I jumped on my spin bike at home and pedalled steadily for 40 minutes while watching a couple of old episodes of the Big Bang Theory.

Tuesday was my regular RPM class. I was extremely happy with my performance this week. I always do OK on the climbs, but sprints are my weakness. However, this week I managed for the first time to wipe the speed off the screen - there's an upper limit of 140 RPM on those computers, so once you tip over that speed, the cadence readout disappears. I have never done that before, but in Tuesday's class I did it twice. Go, me!

Wednesday, I decided I was sick of the same old thing for cardio; it was time for some FUN. So I hunted through my files and pulled out an old program that Liz had given me as part of my contest prep training back in 2007 or 2008. Who could resist a workout titled: Who's the nutter on the treadmill? I printed it out in a nice big font - cannot read less than about 16-point font without my glasses these days - and packed it in my gym bag the night before. It did the job; got me sweating and got me plenty of funny looks. What? Who doesn't do walking lunges on the treadmill? And then a series of Cathe firewalkers and BOSU squats? Pfft, it's not like they haven't seen that before...

On Wednesday night, I realised that my killer DOMS from Sunday's workout had finally subsided. And you know what that means... Yep, it was time to do another 300 workout on Thursday morning. I took a lesson from Sunday's effort and swapped in lat pulldowns for the inverted rows, plus picked a more sensible weight for my triceps pushdowns. I had to use a dumbbell instead of a kettlebell for my swings too because I was at the gym and: no kettlebells. Other than that, it was the same, and this time I got through it in 34 minutes.

This morning, I picked another of Liz's crazy workouts; this time the Psycho Bike Legs Complex. That was a fun little combo of seated climbs, Tabata-style sprint intervals, bodyweight squats and squat jumps (for time), repeated for just over 30 minutes. Now, that's how I like my cardio: Short, varied and hard enough to leave me in a sweaty, gasping heap. Also? It's over and done with early and I can get on with my day.

Tomorrow I'd like to get out on the bike, but that will depend on the weather. It'll have to be fairly early, because Bike Boy and I have a big weekend planned. It's our wedding anniversary tomorrow and we're off for a couple of days to enjoy ourselves with some of our favourite indulgences. :) Sunday will definitely be a rest day.

It's taken me a remarkably short time to get myself back almost to my peak cardio fitness, which just shows that solid planning and consistency in executing the plan are all that's really required. Well, there's obviously a bit more to it than that, but that's a whole other post.

The key to keeping myself interested in my training is definitely variety. I'm not a class person (I make an exception for RPM), so thank goodness I have dozens of Liz's workouts available, workouts from five Phat Camps, plus thirty or forty DVDs to choose from, and of course plenty of my own creations too. If I had to spend my days plodding on a treadmill at the gym like most people down there seem to do, I'd go insane.

Do you love variety in your training, or do you prefer to do the same kinds of things over and over?



Vicki said...

I like variety which is why I struggle a bit with running training! I agree with you getting so much more done in summer with lots of daylight. You are training like a machine, nice work! but don't much like the sound of Liz's workouts ( sorry Liz .. love you! ) .. remind me not to ask her for one ...

Kek said...

Ha! Don't worry Vicki, I used to curse her loudly whilst battling my way through some of my cardio sessions - but funnily enough, they suit my exercise ADD, AND they give plenty of bang for your buck. Short time investment, big fitness return. :)

Debbish said...

I have to admit, although I started my new online PT thing with enthusiasm, as week 2 dawned I was kinda already a bit bored with the 2 different strength sessions I was offered. Or... perhaps it's just that I do prefer classes rather than trying to get myself down to my little gym (about 20m from my door!). Not sure. I'm still feeling happy with my (brief) progress, but the 'mehs' are starting to creep in!

Unknown said...

Aaaahhh, the old Psycho Bike Legs Complex, that one is always my 'go to' at home cardio workout. Short, sharp and guaranteed to get the heart pumping (and legs quivering).

I often think I have exercise ADD ... I love variety which I think is why CrossFit is a good fit for me.

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