Sunday, October 4, 2020

Rucking While The Weather’s Sucking

I followed up a record week on the bike with my poorest numbers since April, covering only 40 miles in 2.5 hours over the last 7 days. We were 10-15 degrees below normal all week, and wet most of that time. Friday night bottomed out at 33° and I felt pretty smart for already having turned off my outdoor spigots until next spring. The week to come should be better … not great, but at least average for this time of year. Looks like Tuesday will be our first 60° day since September 27.

Yeah, this week was a really unwelcome break in my cycling season, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I did ruck marches Thursday, Saturday, and today with my new GPS-enabled watch. Thursday’s and Saturday’s routes weren’t quite right, but today I nailed a 5-kilometer route that I can do repeatedly with a target pace to ensure I’m working hard enough. There will be hikes and ruck marches farther afield, and I will look forward to those adventures for their novelty. But for me there has to be a standard route that begins just outside my door and simply gets the job done. I want to keep the execution of the everyday workout easy and thereby eliminate any excuses not to do it. That strategy already works for me as a cyclist. I don’t have to take the bike somewhere to do a ride; I just roll out of my driveway.

This week’s ruck marches—my first since early May—were not especially demanding. Nevertheless, I felt them. They hit my legs and feet in a way that was very different from cycling, and that’s exactly what I wanted. I had a similar revelation a decade ago when I got into stair climbing. The mild soreness that followed my initial efforts was proof that cycling leaves some leg muscles unchallenged. To be a more complete athlete, I need to find these weak spots and make them strong. And I’m starting to think I should be cross-training throughout the year, not just during the cold weather months. In summer I’m so desirous of big mileage totals on the bike that I neglect other training opportunities. Sure, I still do upper body strength training all year long, but I typically don’t do any walking/hiking/rucking. During the cycling season, dedicating just one day a week to activities like those might make me both fresher and stronger. Being on the bike so much can feel like a job. I don’t take as much rest as I should, and cross-training could give me a weekly break without guilt.

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