[035] Exercise buffet

Swim: 1,500 m/25,200 m

Bike: 6.4/58.1 miles

Run: 1.4/36.9 miles

Today I had a couple hours to myself while my daughter was in preschool, and the weather was so nice that I didn’t want to spend all the time inside the gym. I ended up sampling several different workouts – an exercise buffet, if you will.

I started with about an hour in the weight room, focusing on chest and arms. Then I headed home and hopped on my bike for about 6.5 miles in the neighborhood. And I capped it off with a short, leg-stretching run around the block, mainly to get a little more experience with the bike-to-run transition.

The ride was great – I made a simple tweak to my form that had immediate impact on the session. I was thinking about the position a rider assumes on a tri bike – hunched steeply over the aerobars – and trying to recreate that position on my road bike. For the first time, I tried grabbing the lower part of my drop handlebars (I had always wondered why they were there) and suddenly I was powering up hills with strength and ease. I didn’t even have to downshift when I got to some of the hills that had sent me down several gears on previous rides.

Anatomically, I don’t know why that position works (aerodynamics? better leverage for the quads to flex?), but I’m not about to question it. It felt so smooth and natural, and paid off with a faster overall pace. That pace – 16 mph – is a full mph faster than any previous timed ride. Once I get toe cages or bike shoes I would expect my pace to rise even more.

Upon arriving back home, I dropped the bike and safety accessories in the driveway and set out on the run. It felt terrible – I felt like the tank was nearing empty, and I was breathing too hard. I told myself I would be happy to run in the 8’s, like it was asking my body to do too much to push into the 7’s. I thought the heat was having an effect (it was almost 70 when I ran, the warmest day of the year by far) or that I was just too tired from pushing hard on the bike and the earlier gym workout. I decided to just make a 1.4-mile loop around the neighborhood and bring it home.

I got home and checked my pace – 7:09. I couldn’t believe it. I remapped my run and recalculated my pace. I had felt so sluggish – I had even slowed down toward the end. I now understood why I felt so sapped at the end of the run – I had run at a pace almost a minute faster than I had planned to run. I was a little disappointed in the disconnect between my mind and my body. Usually I can gauge my pace within a handful of seconds, but I was so far off today. It’s amazing how different running feels after just having ridden a bike.

Despite the pace confusion, I was very pleased with today’s efforts. None of the segments were too long, but I worked hard at each of them and I was able to face the rest of the day knowing I had gotten in a solid, full-body workout.

(The stats on top of this post also include a 1,500-meter swim on Saturday morning, the day after the exercise buffet took place. The 40-minute session consisted of 500 m easy warm up, 4 x 75m slow/50m fast, 500 m easy swim.)

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