A couple of weeks back I extended my cycling to 70 kms for the first time. I know, I know, for many this is a triviality, but the ride was a biggie for me. My body is used to running for just over an hour without carrying food or water. After some initial problems, I’ve learnt to carry about 100 grams of nuts and M&Ms on a full day’s hike. So on this 70-km journey, which I tackled slowly in order to ensure finishing, I took a liter of water and 100 grams of nibbles.
A lesson hard learnt! After two hours my legs grew a mite heavy and I sipped and supped. At the three-hour mark, I was nearly out of supplies and from then on my entire body faded. I did finish but could barely lift legs off the bike. In cycling terms, I’d “bonked.”
Since then I’ve read that you should eat 50 grams every quarter hour in excess of an hour and a half. I think that may exaggerate the requirement, so this week I’ve trialled muesli bars, about 50 grams per half hour over 2 hours. It seemed to work but the distances weren’t as great as the 70-kmer, so quite what suffices over four or five or six hours is yet to be determined. As for water, at what point does one need more than a liter?
Lately I’ve been saying how fine this Fitness Big Year has turned out to be. I employed the word “joyous” once. But daily I still grizzle. With 23 days to go, to hit my 4,000 kms cycling/1,000 kms jogging/100 gyms, I must run eleven more times and this means four times in one of the three weeks. That makes me quake with fear. Cycling is more flexible – I can’t run further than 10 kms in a session but I can contemplate logger rides – so I’ve pushed this week to notch up 138 kms, nearly 30 more than any previous week, the idea being to get comfortably close to 4,000 as soon as possible. Five days planned in Darwin over Christmas complicate matters – the heat kills kilometers. My left hamstring still niggles. I might be down with a minor cold. Thursday’s run was hellish and today’s will be the same. On and on and on . . . one complaint after another.
Maybe the bitching goes hand in hand with the joy? The pleasure is often the bodily sensation of being stronger and healthier – if this was easy, there’d be no progress.
So . . . I’ve exercised 64 days in a row and how special is that, eh? Riding a borrowed Canondale road bike along the Cooks River yesterday was special, today I’ll be there in my joggers. I’ll grizzle but I can’t wait.
I’m reporting the same mixed bag as a few weeks ago:
- Writing Big Year: how disappointing can it be? I’ll never set up a “conquer the world” humongous Big Year again – only by pure luck will it work as planned. All that said, I’m inching forward with the book and without the pressure this Big Year has put on me, I wouldn’t be where I am. Smile, Andres!
- Fitness Big Year: I called it “fitness” and I’m markedly fitter. The discipline is, so weirdly, joyous!
- Rock Music Big Year: I’ve listened each and every day, and have conquered 110 albums. But I can report no epiphany, no new anchor in my life. Is music dead to me?
A month ago, I’d have greeted this welcoming late spring dawn with a run or a bike ride. Now the early light means work. Sweaty exercise is relegated to the hot afternoons.
Am I mad?
The big push to hit 2017 targets is on! 45 weeks of focus has acclimatized the body to 110 kms of cycling a week (not far, really, but enough for me right now) and 30 kms of familiar-but-still-tough jogging. Strava tells me I’ve managed nearly 3,300 kms of cycling, 800 of jogging. To hit 4,000 kms/1,000 kms, I can’t miss a week or even a day between now and New Year’s Eve.
Ordinarily I’d be stressed by this pressure. The funny thing is, I’ve begun to enjoy even the running (who could not enjoy a bike ride?), and when I say enjoy, I mean relish . My once-reluctant body tells me it needs and celebrates each day’s workout. Who would have believed this year’s “fitness” focus would come to such a welcome juncture.
All of this mentally prepares me for 2018. For once in my life, maybe I can be ambitious!
The end of 2017 approaches fast. I won’t mince words: the big years have kind of delivered the results I’d hoped for, but I’m not that pleased. Let’s gloss . . .
Fitness Big Year – brilliant! Largely injury free, I’m exercising completely regularly and feel better than ever.
Rock Music Big Year: I’ve listened to an album on each of the 308 days, 103 different recent albums. A big tick for dedication but guess what: there’s been no epiphany, no resurrection of my old love of music. Why? Not sure.
Writing Big Year: A flop. It was probably always badly conceived, has morphed several times, has spurred great work in some periods, but now I’ve had a big slump. Since this is the only one of the three big years to be vitally important, I’m not pleased. More reflection to follow.