New years resolutions

Several folks I know pick impressive new year’s resolutions that eventually fall apart by February, if not sooner. I don’t like specifying too many, and when I do, I’ve preferred to pick at least one thing I know I have a certainty of attaining. For example, two years ago, I resolved to give up listening to opera. This was pretty easy because I never started. Last year, I resolved to go the whole year without drinking chicken frappucino milkshakes. This, too, was easy because chicken milkshakes are, as a concept, disgusting.

This year, I have an easily attainable fake resolution, a real, measurable set of fitness goals, and a stretch goals. My faux resolution is to watch fewer than two hours a day of C-SPAN.
I don’t have that channel on cable, so I’m well-underway in hitting that goal. Cha-ching. My fitness goal is a little more complex.

From 1992 through 2001, I had been on a hiatus from cycling. Several things in my life coalesced, I started up again in May, 2002, logging almost 1,400 miles that year. The highlight of the season was the ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC. I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked, but trudged through it, saw some great fireworks, and planned to do it again in 2003.

Last year, my fitness goal was to increase my mileage by 25% (stretch goal: 30%) and be a bit less wimpy on hills (stretch goal: do 75,000′ ascent), where “less wimpy” is a squishy goal that only I would understand. I had a slow start, finally getting motivated during the Bike to Work commuter challenge in April (managing the company teams helped keep me honest). I hit my stretch goals, eventually eeking out slightly more than 1,800 miles while nearly doubling my cumulative ascent. I knocked four hours off my time on RSVP (which should tell you how slow I was in 2002), and enjoyed the mountainous Tour de Blast.

This year’s fitness resolution is a four-parter:

  1. Ride all year
  2. — I was consistent from April through September, riding in the rain and commuting in the cold. Once the days shortened, and I had dark, cold and rainy, it was hard to maintain my enthusiasm. I used to pooh-pooh indoor training, but having done it in earnest the last several weeks, realize it’s not that bad and offers some interesting training opportunities.

  3. Ride at least 2,250 miles
  4. — this is a 25% increase over what I did last year. Conventional wisdom (Ed Pavelka) suggests 10% is a reasonable increment from year to year. However, if I do any riding in the off-season, this should be an easy goal, so I won’t be focusing on it that much.

  5. Do a one day ride of at least 200k (130 miles)
  6. — I did only one true century last year, but it went pretty well (for me) and I knocked about four hours off my RSVP 2002 ride time. Except for the road rash, I felt strong coming into Vancouver. To do a longer ride, I need to work on improving my speed without hurting endurance (or other parts of me), which brings me to my next goal…

  7. Increase my average speed 1 mph
  8. — this is going to be the hardest one of all. I’ve got the muscles, but the weakest link is my knees. Once I start pushing high gears, I get twinges of knee pain that, so far, goes away with ibuprofin, rest, and ice. However, it’s a chronic thing exacerbated by increased heavy activity. I need to be very careful about overdoing it.I’m going to augment my regimen with isometric exercises, but think that keeping my diet in check and (knock on wood) losing a little more weight will also help.

For my “long” ride, I’m evaluating whether to do the Seattle to Portland route (200 miles) in one day. It’s in July, which will give me adequate time to ramp up my mileage. I’ve been lining up other cycling events as checkpoints along the way.So far, this 27th day of January, I’m on track, accumulating over 250 miles at an average speed improvement over last year. However, while doing hard intervals last Thursday, I felt the first twinge of overtraining: a sharp aching in the nether regions around my kneecap. I iced, I compressed, I took ibuprofin, and I rested a few days. It felt better during yesterday’s ride, but it just underscores that I need to be vigilant at pacing myself for the long haul.

(And yeah, my spouse thinks I’m certifiably nuts for wanting to do the long ride 🙂