After a recent appointment with my favorite orthopedist (only a very injury-prone person gets to claim a "favorite"), Larry Collins, I was convinced I needed to get clip-in pedals and cycling shoes for my bike, and ride "clipless." I don't understand this terminology; it contradicts itself. But whatever. The point is, I need to keep my foot flat, rather than bending it and putting pressure on the ball of my foot, and cycling shoes don't really bend. So despite the expense, I decided it would be a good investment for longterm cross-training. One thing that has always put me off about cycling is the cost of everything--bike aside (which can be exorbitant), there's the padded shorts, which I resisted until I understood the need for them; the gloves; the helmet; the lights; the pocket shirts; the bike computer--odometer or GPS, depending on how fancy (and pricey) you want to get; and now, the shoes, pedals, and cleats. I remember when I used to hesitate over the cost of a pair of running shoes. Such simpler days!
|My "shoes of the future," as my sister lovingly commented.|
But I'm embracing this new adventure. Yesterday I went for my first clipless ride. And I get it now. Many people told me how much better of a ride I'd have clipped in, and, fear of falling aside, I did feel stronger in my riding. I was able to use more of my legs (and less of my feet). I almost regret selling my road bike for the hybrid. I didn't think I'd be doing all of this; I didn't think my foot issue would return. I still love my new bike, and I can use it for in-town riding more easily than the road bike, but I know I'll never get as much speed or mileage out of it as I would have the road bike. Lesson learned.
|Post-ride success--no falling!|
Something else I've taken an unexpected liking to is swimming. Actually, I've always loved being in the water, but I never quite learned how to lap-swim, without just flopping my head from side to side on each stroke. So I talked to some triathlete friends and watched a YouTube video to make sure I understood proper technique, and after a couple times in the pool, I felt a lot more comfortable swimming laps. I'm sure there's tons of room for improvement, but at least I'm not swallowing gobs of water on my breath strokes--for the most part. And my endurance has improved a lot after just a few times in the pool. But my main issue the last couple times in the water has been my ears. I have very sensitive ears to begin with--I have some hearing loss, some recent tinnitus, and I get a "clogged" feeling when I do a lot of exercises changing levels (like moving back and forth between standing and floor exercises). Water also bothers my ears. And the earplugs I was using--the waxy, moldable kind--weren't molding very well and so they weren't sealing off my ears, which allowed water to trickle in every time I would turn my head to breathe. Every time. I think it's because I bought them years ago when I thought I was going to get into swimming (I've had a lot of starts and stops), and they lost their malleability. So that's what has kept me from staying in the pool longer. But now I'm armed with new ear plugs and ready to get back in the pool and keep trying to be better, stronger, faster. Or at least last longer than 20 minutes. Baby steps.
And while I'm still not running, I learned from Larry that can use the elliptical at the gym (yay), as long as I keep my feet flat and don't push into the balls of them. It's not running--by far--but it's about the closest thing I can do right now. So on my non-bike, non-swim days, I'll go to the gym, do 20-30 minutes of permissible cardio, and then strength-train for about 30 minutes. I tend to do more body-weight exercises than weighted, though I try to mix it up now and then. I'm trying lots of different exercises that I see online and pin to my Fitness board on Pinterest. And I usually have to write out my workout on a sticky note beforehand and put it in front of my face while I'm working out. But hey, whatever gets it done.
So I'm not running, but in a way I'm doing more than I ever did before, when I was just straight running five days a week. Not to say that I don't miss running terribly, but I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to get back to it in a couple of weeks. And I plan to keep these other activities in my rotation. And who knows? Now that I have the makings of a triathlon under my belt--or at least in progress, I may not have an excuse not to do one in the near future.