Monday, August 20, 2012

Motivators that Work for Me: #3 Earn a Reward

This is Part 3 of an occasional series of blog posts in which I discuss things I do to stay motivated for workouts. The first were fairly unique to me, but this one could probably work for anyone. What's my secret?

Answer: I earn financial rewards to spend on fitness gear. This sounds amazing and who wouldn't want to do this? But there is a catch. You have to have the money to spend in the first place. I'm not winning money from someone else; I am simply giving myself permission to spend money. Here is how it works:

First, I save a little bit of money each month and I designate it for "workout rewards." This fund builds up until I have done something deserving enough to spend it. For example, on May 22, 2009, I set a personal best in the amount of weight I lifted during a workout at the gym. I "gave" myself $25 as a reward and set it aside. Just a few days later, I did more pull-ups than ever before. Great! Another $25 was put into my savings account. Then another few days later, I set a personal best in fastest running pace during an outdoor run. Yay! I gave myself another $25.

Prior to all this I came up with a list of things that would qualify for a $25 reward. These things generally included personal bests, as described above. The magic here is that just beating a previous time or a previous weight or a previous pace or previous calories burned--whatever your set of goals--is worth a reward. The reward is not something hard to obtain in the beginning; in fact, it's easy to beat your previous performances in the beginning of a workout program. And then it gets harder as you improve and time goes on. This is by design, because if you're like me, you are not made of money, so you can't sustain all these deductions from your paycheck or checking account for long. But as you improve, and earning a reward becomes harder, you won't need as much motivation to keep going.

Now the fun part. As I explained, I had about $75 saved up by the end of May 2009. Now I got to spend it. The rule I made up for this was that whatever I spent the money on would have to go toward a purchase related to my workouts. At the time, I was involved in a church softball league, I was lifting weights, I was cycling, and I was swimming. So in June 2009 I see in my records that I spent the $75 on additional weights to put on my barbell, some slider pants I could wear on the ball field, and swim goggles.

This system provided me with a lot of new clothes and toys through summer of 2010. The drawback of the system was that I had to keep records of all my workouts, how much I earned, and how much I spent on workout gear. Admittedly, I lost interest in this "Workout Rewards" motivator for about a year (but i hasten to point out that I was still working out a lot, so the system worked!). Then in early summer 2011, I splurged and bought a new road bicycle. I hadn't saved up enough to buy this bike; I just wanted it. I felt a little guilty for violating my system so I put it back in place in order to buy the necessary accessories that one usually needs for a new bicycle. For example, I wanted a cycling jersey, cycling shorts, cycling shoes, cycling gloves, water bottle cage...lots of things. But I didn't buy them right away. I had to earn them. How? By riding the bike, of course! For every mile that I rode, I set aside $2. Today, I am riding that bike at least 30 miles a week. But I'm not giving myself $60 to spend every week; now that riding the bike is part of my routine, I no longer need the extra motivation of the financial reward. So once again, I'm not really keeping track of personal bests for the purpose of financial award, and that's OK, because I'm still working out. My "Workout Rewards" program is something that definitely works for me when I'm trying to reach a goal or when I want a new fitness toy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Race Report: Pittsburgh Triathlon

This was my first Olympic-length triathlon (aka international distance).


First segment (1.5K open water swim) went well. The swim was in the Allegheny River as it flows downtown past Heinz Field and PNC Park. We entered between the two stadiums and swam directly upstream to the Clemente Bridge. Then at a yellow buoy, we turned 90 degrees and swam to another buoy halfway across the river. Then we swam downstream past the entry point and on to Heinz Field. I did a similar swim course a couple weeks ago, but today's race was very different. First, there were 135 men in my heat (crowded!). We all piled into the water, treaded water for a few minutes behind the start buoy, and started swimming after a countdown. Obviously there were lots of inadvertent contacts with other swimmers, and I felt trapped by not being able to pass people ahead of me while at the same time being bumped by people behind me. I suppose I could have been more aggressive by squeezing in between bodies, but the underwater visibility was zero and I had no idea what was ahead of the people I wanted to pass. One good thing about this race was that orientation was made easier by where the rising sun happened to be. We couldn't see the buoys marking the course, but if we swam toward the sun, we'd be heading in the right direction. The second thing that made this swim different from my last was the roughness of the water. A couple weeks ago, this river was as lazy and flat as a pond or pool. Today (after heavy rain all week), the water was more rough, and the current much stronger (16-fold increase in cubic feet per second). There was also a fair amount of flood debris. I'm making this sound bad, but it wasn't really. The water was still warm (78 degrees) and I swam at a speed comparable to my times in a pool.

Exiting the water after a 1.5 K swim.
There were two instances where I almost got off course. First, I was swimming a little farther in the middle of the river than I should have, and I nearly missed a buoy. Swimmers were supposed to keep all buoys to his or her right, and I was nearly upon a buoy when a kayaker patrolling the race yelled at me. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but it was enough for me to look up and see that I needed to make a quick adjustment to my swimming direction to stay to the right of the buoy. I made a similar mistake a little later, as well. The buoy was marking a 90-degree turn and I cut off the corner. Realizing my mistake, I turned around and headed back toward the buoy so I could round it on the correct side. No race officials seemed to be nearby, so no one would have known. But I would have, and I didn't want to cheat.

Overall, my swim time was faster than 50% of the 358 participants. Being below the median, I am happy with this time.


My T1 time between the swimming segment and cycling segment was just over 3 min. Looking at the results, I see that 75% of the participants did this faster than me. Oh well, I'm not that competitive. To save time I skipped my cycling gloves and I also didn't eat anything. I did get a swig of water.

Once on the bike, I started strong and quickly realized that the one other person I knew doing this race was just ahead of me. That's quite a coincidence, and I appreciated racing immediately behind him for the first few miles. Drafting was not allowed, so I kept a few bike lengths behind him. At one point I passed him going up a hill, but he soon passed me, and then maintained his lead for the rest of the race.

The 40-km bike segment consisted of two identical loops. The course wound around a few city blocks, then climbed an entrance ramp onto a highway HOV lane (closed to car traffic). We followed the HOV lane to its first exit (at Perrysville), looped around a park-and-ride lot, and then followed the HOV lane back into downtown. Then repeated the loop. Going into the race I was not concerned about the bike segment at all. I can charge up the (steep) hills around my home without much trouble, so when I looked at the bike route for the race I didn't see anything I couldn't handle with ease. However, what I maybe didn't prepare myself for was the continuous incline that the HOV lane features from the downtown entrance ramp to the Perrysville Exit (approx. 3 miles). So while the slope of this hill wasn't bad, its length tired me out. I maintained a speed around 10-11 mph going uphill and then 22-24 mph going downhill. I was expecting a faster descent but the wind was a headwind, I didn't pedal on some parts just to give my legs a rest, and on the second descent I even stood up on the pedals (not aero!) to stretch some really sore back and hip muscles. My max speed was 34.3 mph.

40 km bike segment
The part of the loop downtown featured a lot of brick crosswalks that I had to be careful on as I rounded corners. I saw one person had crashed taking a corner too tightly on the brick surface (he was OK).
Probably my favorite part of the bike segment was at the park-and-ride parking lot where volunteers were there handing out water and Gatorade. Instead of handing us paper cups, they handed us plastic bottles that fit into our water bottle cages. Since I was having a hard time on the bike, I elected to take one of these bottles. I simply put my hand out, and grabbed it as the volunteer held it out. I felt like "yeah, he's on my team." It felt so natural and practiced, but I can't think of any other time that I've grabbed something from someone while riding past them at 15 mph (except maybe when I was a juvenile delinquent purse-snatcher...just kidding). BTW, I had purposely left my water bottle off my bike during the race, so when I was done drinking, I slipped it into that vacant spot on my frame. I had decided against bringing water with me because I expected to complete the bike segment in about an hour. I figured I'd be fine for an hour without water. However, it took longer than an hour and I was glad to have a drink.
My total time on the bike ranked low; I was faster than only 25% of 358 participants. Obviously, this isn't very good, and I knew that as soon as I started the bike segment. I passed almost no one, and it seemed like nearly everyone passed me!


Given how tired and hurting I was from my bike ride, and given how challenging running is for me, I decided as I pulled into the transition area that I would walk my bike there, rather than run with the bike to my assigned rack. I felt a little embarrassed to walk, as everyone else was rushing around. But I needed to rest and re-group for my run. I sat on my towel, changed my shoes, grabbed some food and drink, and started the 10K run. And run, I did. It actually felt easy. My leg muscles were not complaining and any discomfort I had from the bike ride dissolved. I was worried about cramps, but no cramps! Several things caused my run to go really smoothly. First, the aforementioned walk in the transition zone. Second, I knew that a ton of people had passed me on the bike, so I no longer had the illusion that I would have a competitive finish time. Therefore, I allowed myself to just go slow. Third, I drank orange juice in the transition area. No, not orange-flavored Gatorade. This was 100% pure orange juice left over from my breakfast that I kept in a cooler. Oh, did that taste and feel good going down! Real OJ has a lot of sugar and potassium, too, so it's just as good as the artificial Gatorade stuff. Speaking of artificial stuff, the last thing I can think of that led me to have a good run was GU packets. My triathlon shorts have a zippered pocket in the back, and I stashed three packets there. GU is really gross. Containing several types of sugar and some vitamins, it's like consuming a flavored honey or drinking maple syrup. It doesn't feel or taste good. But it really worked for me. It gave me the calories I needed to keep going without putting solid food into a bouncing-around stomach. I haven't used GUs before, so I felt a bit like those early astronauts that had to eat tubes of food paste. (this allusion probably sounds strange to you, but for a moment I was pretending to be an astronaut eating paste, and that was a pleasant distraction from my run!).
Finishing up my 10K run
The run course was on the riverwalk that runs along the Allegheny River north from downtown (on the North Shore). Half of it was paved and half was crushed stone. We ran 3.1 miles north, turned around, and came back. Having runners using the same trail to go both directions was useful because as a runner going the opposite direction would approach, I'd glance at him or her, and wonder about who the person was: how old they were, what they did at work, whether they had families, how rich or poor they were. Just people-watching stuff to keep me entertained.
Like every other out-and-back race I've done, the first half seemed to take forever. This is because I didn't scout out the trail ahead of time and didn't know where the turn-around was. But once I had turned around, I knew that I was halfway done. Of course, I knew pretty well where I was along the course, first because there were volunteers handing out water at every mile, and second because I was wearing my HR monitor and it was telling me what my pace was.

Speaking of heart rate, I am truly surprised that I kept it so low. When I run (up hills) near my home, my HR regularly goes above 160, and sometimes higher than 180. But on this flat course, I had a steady 150-155.
With 1 mile to go, I decided to pick up the pace. After a pair of folks passed me, I thought maybe I would increase my speed to keep up with them. That worked for a while, but ultimately they were going too fast. Nevertheless, I was running faster and maintained a quickened pace until the finish line. As I crossed over the finish mat, I saw the time was just under 3 hours and my spirits raised considerably because I realized that despite my slow biking and running segments, I still achieved my goal. I wanted to finish in under 3 hours, and that's what I did. Amazing!
Moments after crossing the finish line, I experienced something that has never happened to me. My eyes started to tear up. This sensation lasted only a minute, but it was a curious experience. Were these tears of exhaustion, or tears of joy, or...what? To be honest, I wasn't all that exhausted, but still, with the cessation of exercise, I imagine certain neurotransmitters and hormones started to change in their rates of secretion. But even though I am a biologist, I don't think I need to come up with a physiological explanation here. I think these were tears of joy. This was my first Olympic-length triathlon (the ones I did last year were shorter), and I have been looking forward to this day for months. To complete the race--just to finish it--is a great feat that five years ago I never would have imagined I could do. I am a confident person in many areas of my life, but a race like this helps me realize that I can do great things in many more areas than I previously thought. Joy. It feels good.

Oh, and just so you don't think I'm a sap, I want you to know that no tears were actually shed. I only felt the sensation of wanting to cry. The only thing running down my cheek was sweat.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Triathlon Pants

I have an Olympic-length triathlon coming up and I recently purchased a pair of triathlon pants. You see, I've done three sprint-length triathlons already, but all of them have featured a swimming segment in a pool. I don't know why this makes a difference, but since I own a competitive swim jammer (a suit that runs from waist to just above the knees) already, I have always worn the swimsuit during the triathlons--even for the cycling and running segments. Now that I'm graduating to a longer-distance triathlon event, I feel buying a pair of pants made for triathlons makes some sense.
I am a strong swimmer and an equally strong cyclist. I'm not fast at all while running. Most (amateur) triathletes are the opposite of me--they are great runners, do well with cycling, and poor swimmers. So I figured I'd buy my triathlon pants from a company that is best known for making swim suits: TYR. By going with TYR, I at least know that the product will be excellent in the water, and for a competitive swimmer like myself, that's important. I didn't want the pad in the crotch area (or any other design feature of the pants) to interfere with my superior swimming ability. 
So how different are triathlon pants from cycling pants or competitive swim jammers? I can't speak for all types, but in comparing one set of each that I own, I find these differences:

type triathlon shorts cycling shorts swim jammer
brand TYR competitor Nishiki Speedo endurance
fabric 80% nylon/ 20% spandex 88% nylon/ 12% spandex 50% polyester/ 50% PBT
pad insert 10" back-to-front; 5.25" at widest point; 3/16" thick 12.5" back to front; 7.5" at widest point; 3/16" thick none
inseam 9" 10" 12"
panels 13 7 8
pockets three none none
drawstring waist yes yes yes
grips around leg openings thick dots thin ridges none

The fabric matters for several reasons, the most important being that spandex (Lycra) is quickly broken down by pool chlorine, so fabrics with high spandex content will wear out quickly if worn in a pool. A lot of triathlons are not in pools, so it's fine that the TYR shorts are high in spandex. The Speedo endurance fabric contains a different elastic fiber (PBT) that is more chlorine resistant than spandex. In fact, I have swum more than 140 miles in my Speedo Endurance swim suit and it has not yet worn out (though the color has faded).
The number of fabric panels these shorts are made from matters because the higher the number of panels, the better they are supposed to fit. I imagine there are a lot of assumptions with this general rule, but as you can see, the triathlon shorts have more panels and I really do think they conform to my body more than even the Speedo endurance swim suit.

Conforming to the body is good for several reasons including aerodynamics in air and water, as well as muscle support. The muscle compression that these shorts and other products provide is promoted by manufacturers as a way to speed blood flow and improve muscle efficiency, but I am very doubtful about those claims. Nevertheless, there is a certain macho feeling that one gets when they wear tight-fitting fitness clothes and this can act as a placebo effect to improve performance. On the other hand, there is a negative aspect to these shorts in the way they hug the body. The more they conform, the more they reveal hints of the male anatomy. I've gotten completely comfortable with the Speedo swimsuit in this regard, but the pads inserted into the cycling shorts and the triathlon shorts create an exaggerated bulge in the front that could cause some embarrassment. The triathlon pants are probably the worst offenders here, because the pad is shorter from front to back than the cycling pants. As a consequence, the pad in the front doesn't come up as high, and it is much narrower there as well. The smaller pad dimensions tend to emphasize the male bulge rather than obscure it, as the larger pad of the cycling pants do. Oh well. The smaller pad is probably good for allowing greater leg motions during the run segment of a triathlon, and if someone is sensitive about this issue, he can always wear a pair of regular shorts over top. But not when swimming or cycling, as you don't want extra water and wind resistance during the race.
I have worn the triathlon shorts on both a bike ride and a run. I will soon test them for swimming when I visit the pool next. But so far the shorts performed well (no chaffing) and I expect they will work great for my upcoming Olympic-length triathlon.
Now...what should I wear as a shirt? They sell a top that goes with the tri shorts, but it's expensive and I don't see why I need it. I'll probably just wear a compression shirt made by UnderArmour, but the one I own right now has colors that clash with my tri shorts. Perhaps I should fix that problem by buying another shirt? I'll decide soon. Stay tuned for a race report!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Motivators that Work for Me #2: A New Physique

In this second installment of a series of blog posts on things that motivate me to stay physically active, I discuss the fact that once a person has acheived an improved physique, he or she will want to keep it. 

There are plenty of people I have encountered or read about that used to be overweight and then they lost a lot of pounds through diet modification and exercise. Some people in this situation maintain this improved physique forever, and some revert back to their original size. I can understand how difficult it would be to lose all that weight, and then to gain it all back would be hard to deal with, too. My story is not like this, though. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

I have always had a thin build. Even my own mother remarks when I come to visit that it looks like I've lost weight. No. I'm the same 6'4" and 175 pound male today that I was back in June 2001. I have records from back then. I have a completely normal weight for my height. However, my impression of myself is that I am a little underdeveloped in the upper body, including arms, shoulders, and chest. Data show that the maximum bench press of an adult male in his 30s should be about 93% his body weight. For me that would be 162 pounds and I don't think I could do that. 

Back in September 2008 I started to do weight lifting to see if I could build my muscles. At the time I was not a swimmer, so I wasn't worried about strength; increasing muscle size was my goal. I'm embarrassed that this was my goal. It's so sophomoric to worry about having big muscles. But guess what? Weight lifting several days per week for 16 months caused my chest circumference to increase 3 inches and my upper arm circumference to increase 1 inch. To be honest, I don't think these minor gains in muscle size were ever noticable in the mirror. But it didn't matter; I knew I had made progress and it made me feel better about myself.

My weight lifting diminished during winter 2010 because of minor shoulder injuries at that time and an increase in my professional responsibilities, and I haven't really done a lot of weight lifting since. Meanwhile, I've been swimming on a regular basis and I think this has maintained my muscle size and strength. It better have, because by swimming regularly, I am walking around in public with no shirt and I have to look good. I can't have a bunch of belly fat. I can't look sickly thin. Thus, one of my motivators for keeping a regular schedule of fitness activties is to hold on to the improvements I made to my physique, and to stay visually pleasing to the eye during my time at the pool. Oh, and ladies, I'm still single!

All kidding aside, I want to stress that what works for me might not be helpful to others. First, I don't know what it is like to struggle with one's weight their whole life. Relative to others, it's easy for me to say "I want to look good at the pool" and be able to work toward that goal. Second, "looking good at the pool" isn't that great of a goal to have anyway. It is a subjective goal. It is an unreachable goal because there is no way for me to know when I've attained it. This goal  emphasizes outer appearance rather than the more important things that count. Lastly, I'm pretty sure that people don't look at my body when I am at the pool as much as I used to think. Maybe they snatch a look or two, but in general, swimmers are there to do their own thing and encourage me as I do mine. There is very little judgment at the pools where I swim--swimmers come in all shapes, ages, and sizes, and we are all far more beautiful than we think we are. You might catch me staring at someone at my pool, but I'm almost certain to be studying their swimming technique than thinking about their body's appearance. Seriously.

In sum, one of the things that motivates me to workout is how good my body looks to me. It doesn't matter that much how I appear to others. I think I look good, and I exercise to keep it that way.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Motivators that Work for Me: #1 Never Say Never

This post is the start of an occassional series in which I will describe the top 10 things that have helped me stay motivated during the last 3-4 years of working out and becoming a middle-aged athlete. I think this list of motivators could be helpful to a lot of folks, but I must be clear at the start that I am not the most experienced athlete, nor the best. To put things in perspective, over the last year I have logged 142 miles of running, 841 miles of cycling, and 136 miles of swimming. Compared to some people, these totals are small. But compared to most people, these totals are exceptional. Compared to me 3 or 4 years ago these totals are exceptional. Today at my workplace, at my church, and within my family I'm viewed as someone who is really dedicated to fitness. I even have a colleague who keeps saying "I know you eat really healthy, but would you care to join us at X resturant?"  Yes, of course! My diet isn't really that great--it is terribly void of vegetables--but I let her have the impression that I'm a health nut anyway. So how do I stay motivated and reap the benefits of this reputation among my friends? My first strategy is to never say never:

1. Never Say Never
Insecurities hold you back. I look at them as being excuses that cause us to fail before we ever begin. That doesn't mean we can fix the things we are trying to fix, but what I have found is that accepting the challenge and working toward improvement--even if it does not ultimately succeed--makes me a more confident person. Motivation and self confidence increase together. If you work toward a goal, that is evidence that you are motivated. As you work, you gain confidence in your self. With greater self confidence, motivation to succeed grows even more. The key is tricking yourself into starting this process. I suggest imagining yourself as a motivated and confident person. Ask yourself "What would I do if I had no fear, anxiety, or lack of confidence?" Then do what comes to mind. It's easier said than done. I know that. But it can be done. I celebrate these successes:
  • In a previous blog post I described how I grew tired of being a lousy player on a fast-pitch softball team. Maybe this was due to a lack of confidence, maybe it was lack of skill. Probably it was both. So after failing a few times during a game, I picked myself up and decided to concentrate much harder. Ultimately, I was the MVP of that particular game. This sort of softball success was rare for me, but simply knowing that not every game would be a disaster kept me motivated to do well.
  • In late 2010 I didn't think I could commute to work by bicycle because there are two hills between my home and work. With some encouragement from my swim coach, I did it, and it wasn't bad at all. I have continued to commute by bike whenever the weather is nice.
  • I don't think I've mentioned this on my blog before, but my recent experience as a cyclist gives me a lot of thrills, both good and bad. Since buying a road bike last summer, I have started to ride regularly on roadways with motor vehicle traffic. The roads around my house are narrow, winding country roads, plus a few busy yellow-striped highways. With 359 miles on the new road bike, I admit I am still nervous to ride this bike. What if I get a flat tire when 15 miles from my home, or what if I get really exhuasted in climbing a hill? Or worse, what if I get hit by a car, or lose control and flip over the handlebars? I would be so much safer if I didn't ride my bike on roadways or anywhere else. But is the answer then to give up? Of course not. Someone with greater confidence and less fear would head out on his bike because it is fun and good. So, with Godspeed and defensive driving, I ride, and I ride well.
  • I joined a competitive swim team in late 2010. What in the world happened to me? I had only just learned to swim 15 months before. I felt self-conscious about swimming, diving, and what I'd look like in a close-fitting competitive swimsuit. But I did it anyway, and I've kept at it.
This "Never Say Never" rule has worked for me a lot of times, but there is more work to be done. Even now, about 4 years after learning how to swim and 1.5 years of competitive swimming, I have a deep, subconscious fear of water. It doesn't come to my attention very often, but I know it is still there. It showed up recently when I asked my swim coach to show me a second kind of dive that swimmers use when they are on a relay team. The dive must propel me quite far into the air before I hit the water so that I don't dive into the swimmer below me, swimming to the wall as s/he finishes the first segment of the relay race. My normal dive plunges me rapidly into the water without much time spent in midair. So on this day, as my coach asked me to aim farther as I launched off the diving platform, I just stood there. I did many false starts, sometimes loosing my balance and jumping defeatedly into the water feet first. But for at least 15 minutes I would fall in, climb back out, mount the diving platform, and try, try, try to jump off. Finally, I gave up. But not for good. I won't say "never." I'm going to do it someday, and when I do, I'll feel as though I'm at the top of the world. That will be a good feeling, and that hope is what motivates me to keep trying. 

Stay tuned for more motivational tools I use to keep me fit. The next one I'll write about is Keeping Records.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cycling Glasses

I recently bought a pair of glasses for use on the bike. As a weekend-warrior type cyclist I used to think that cyclists with fancy shades really didn't need them. Instead, I thought the glasses were just for fashion and for shading one's eyes from the sun. After all, there are lots of folks who drive their cars wearing fancy sunglasses, and sometimes the sun is out and sometimes it is not!

But now that I am a developing roadie--someone who speeds around on a bike more than once or twice a week--I understand that cycling glasses are not just for style and not just to dim the sun's light rays. In addition, cyclists need glasses to protect their eyes from bugs, dust, and debris that can be thrown into our faces as a car passes us. A bit of dust or a bug can be an annoyance for the casual rider, but if you are riding along at 20 mph, you can't afford to be distracted or temporarily impeded by a speck of dust in your eye. The situation can become unsafe.

So I bought a pair of glasses. I now own Tifosi FORZA FC Gloss Black T-V215 Fototec glasses. The purchase price was about $40 on the Bike Nashbar website. This was about 3 months ago, so I don't remember why I chose this particular model (actually now I do: I have a big face and very few other brands were rated as fitting large faces--what are all cyclists like horse jockeys?). I can say that the glasses are completely worth every penny. They sit lightly on my face and never bother me during a ride. In fact, the only time I notice I am wearing them is when the wind is blowing on the rest of my face and I don't feel it around the eyes. "Oh yeah, I've got glasses on." [I should note here that off the bike I do not wear glasses or corrective lenses of any kind]. These things are as comfortable as can be, and they never shift position. I've never been worried that they would fall off.

Tifosi Forza FC cycling glasses
I wasn't actually sure how to wear them with a helmet. Should the earpieces go under the helmet straps or over them? I looked through an issue of Bicycle Magazine and saw photos of people doing it either way, but I can't be sure those are real cyclists or just models. Indeed, some of their helmet straps were much too loose under the chin to provide them any protection during a crash, so these people either loosened their straps for the photo shoot, or they weren't real cyclist. Anyway, I decided to wear the ear pieces over the helmet straps so that if I was in a crash, the glasses would fall away from my face and not cut me.

This pair of glasses is supposed to be photochromic, such that the lenses become more darkly tinted in bright light. This feature is not noticeable while wearing them, but I suppose that is the point. Off the bike I see that they never get very dark. However, I am not one who wears sunglasses routinely (i.e. a motorist who wears them in the car), so I'm not bothered that they are not very dark....except that a certain "cool factor" is lost when you are riding your bike without dark sunglasses. That's OK. I know I'm cool anyway!

Goals for June 2012

In my last post I evaluated how well I attained my May fitness goals and my self-grade was a C. The whole point in working out is self-improvement, so I want to get a better grade in June! So here is my plan:

  • June 9-10: Bike MS Escape to the Lake. This is a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that hundreds of thousands of cyclists do all across the country. This will be my first year participating. I've chosen a 137-mile route from near Pittsburgh to the shore of Lake Erie.

Monthly Goals:
  1. Cycling. Obviously I'll do at least 137 miles, since that is part of the Bike MS event. I am also planning a 25-mile ride with my parents at the end of the month. Adding another 50 miles in weekly rides (this would be closer to 80 if I weren't planning to be out of town for some of the month), that gives me a realistic goal of 212 miles. If I attain this, it would be the second month where I rode more than ever before.
  2. Running. This goal is easy to set. I want to run more this month than in any other before it. That sounds dramatic, but given my low running totals, it's completely attainable. Besides, I can run anywhere, even if I'm out of town.
    1. I will run 22 miles in June.
    2. I will also make sure that at least one of my runs will exceed 4.8 miles (my un-met goal from last month) 
  3. Swimming.
    1. I will swim 11.3 miles in June, which is an average amount.
    2. I will make sure 4 of my swims are an hour in length.
    3. The majority of my swims will include: (1) diving, (2) 125 yards of straight butterfly, (3) at least two 100 IM. Practicing my dives will help me spend more time in the air. I need to build endurance in the butterfly. My best friend does a lot of IMs and that's inspiring. I want to see if I can do what he does (eventually).
  4. Bird Hikes. I think four hikes with bicoculars this month is not unreasonable, and I always enjoy it.
  5. Weight-Lifting. Last month I said I'd do a workout 3 times per week. That still seems reasonable, but in reality I did just 3 workouts in the entire month. 
    1. I will do 6 workouts in the month. 
    2. I will start most of these workouts with leg raises as a warmup, since my swim coach wants me to work on building my abdominal muscles.
    3. My biceps circumference will increase 0.20 inch to 11.5 inches.
    4. My forearm circumference will increase 0.25 inch to 11.25 inches.
    5. My chest size will increase 0.25 inch to 43.25 inches.