I’ve made it no secret that I’m a huge bike nerd. I’ve spent countless hours poring over cycling websites and forums, reading about new gear, and just generally obsessing about things that a normal person wouldn’t give a second glance to. I have brand preferences, and I can list off the parts that I would put on my dream bike at any given time, from memory. I’ve cleared well over 3000 miles this year on a bike I’ve only had since March. So why have I only broken 100 miles (nearly all of them indoors) this month? There are a few reasons:
It’s October, and apparently it’s been decided that good weather is done for the year. It’s cool at best; windy and rainy at worst. I feel bad for not riding to work, but I don’t miss the hassles that it brings in terms of clothing and preparation. I’ll admit it – when you’re used to getting places under your own power, driving becomes one of those guilty pleasures.
I’ve been constantly afflicted by a flat rear tire in the past two months. I couldn’t figure out what was causing it, but I was going through a tube every few rides or so. For that reason biking was no longer a reliable mode of transportation for me. I couldn’t justify trying to squeeze in 15 or 20 miles if I knew I’d have to spend a portion of it on foot, hoofing it to a gas station.
I was trying to average 20-25 miles a day when I was riding during the summer. It wasn’t terribly difficult when I was going to and from work twice a day, but no matter how you slice it that ends up being nearly 90 minutes of riding, which is a time commitment that I’m just not interested in making when reason number one comes into play.
When all the reasons above combine it makes for an experience that’s just not enjoyable anymore. One alternative is to train indoors (I picked up a set of rollers earlier this year), but it is seriously boring, and not something I want to do everyday (if at all).
With all this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to start running.
Here’s the funny thing about that. I suck at running… or at least, I did. I couldn’t run a mile to save my life, and if by some miracle I did manage, my lungs would be on the verge of exploding so it may have been a self-defeating act. My very first run (in recent history, at least) consisted of a distance of about 1.5 miles, half of which were walked.
I paid for it dearly. My major mistake was opting to wear the Nike Free’s that I used for Wii Fit. While they were fine for a more aerobic use, they were terribly unsuccessful at dealing with the foot-to-pavement interaction, and my hips were out of whack for two days afterwards.
When I finally did recover (read: when I could walk without being in pain), I decided to give it another go, this time in a pair of borrowed Nike Shox. While I didn’t much care for the feel of them (Shox in general seem relatively heavy) they did a much better job of absorbing the impact and left me feeling much less damaged the second time around.
The fact that I committed to a second run at all is something of a miracle, as I don’t think I’ve ever reached that phase before. Apparently, that’s all it took. I lucked out and found a pair of Nike Zoom Start +, and the deal was sealed.
It was no accident that I ended up with a pair of shoes that are Nike + compatible; that was basically one of my only requirements when searching. When it comes to exercise, stats have worked in my favor in the past, so I had no doubt they would work their magic again.
I was right. When base your distance on landmarks instead of hard data, it’s easy convince yourself you’ve gone farther than you actually have, and to feel more entitled to a break. The little voice in my ear told me otherwise, which made the little voice in my brain say “Keep going! You can do it!”
As it turns out, I can do it. In spite of the extremely temperamental weather (which fades to the background once warmed up) and the sporadic pain (which is assuaged by time on the rollers) I’ve found that I actually do love to run. It’s such a simple activity, and that’s why I was always frustrated that it always seemed to escape me before. It carries a lot of the same traits that I enjoy about cycling without the drawbacks. I’ll openly acknowledge that it’s harder on the body, but I’m getting more done in less time (in terms of exercise) and I don’t have to worry about random equipment failures.
And I can listen to music while exercising, which is basically a deathwish on a bike when you’re on public roads.