Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When a runner becomes a rider

Once upon a time — 2007 and 2008 — the only exercise I got was through biking. (Before that ... well, let's not go there.)

Obviously, that changed. Here I am in May 2013, having spent basically all of my workout energy from fall 2011 through last month running — then suddenly flipping the switch to biking.

Two consecutive days of longer rides does not constitute a complete lifestyle change, but there are definitely some differences in post-ride life from post-run life.

* First of all, I'm hungry right away and not nearly as thirsty. It makes more sense intuitively, though it is less convenient — instead of happily taking time to stretch, change clothes, use the bathroom, pester the cat, etc., I just want to bury my head in the fridge.

* Much more helpful is how not sore and achy I've felt. My legs and back did complain a little bit during rides, yet when the foam roller came out, almost nothing felt knotty.

Let me repeat that: Almost nothing felt knotty. It's the only time so far I've rolled my IT band without grimacing, or wondered how to pile more weight onto the backs of my thighs to really work my quads.

OK, my glutes were still tender, and my calves did have a tight spot or two ... and the inner thigh exercise was finally worth the incredibly awkward and unnatural positioning. Otherwise, I would probably be able to put the foam roller on the high shelf of the closet and forget it was there until fall.

* Sometimes it can be hard to find a comfortable position besides reclining after a run. After a ride, everything except sitting on the bike seat seems perfectly cushy and cozy. Climbing back on the day after a 50-miler, on the other hand ...

* And finally, there are the odd sunburn spots. That's not to say I don't burn, or burn in weird places, while running — I do. (Except when real winter arrives in Iowa.) They're just different than the weird places I've already burnt myself while riding.

Before Monday, back when it was cooler and required more clothing, I'd only burned my face/neck around my helmet and sunglasses. It looked super-hip.

Far more awesome, though, is the "tramp stamp" sunburn I got from a shirt that slid up as I leaned over for, oh, two-plus hours. It goes about two-thirds of the way across my waist and is just about a centimeter high, but wow is that skin pink against the ghostly white of the rest of me.

Distant runners-up to the tramp stamp are the two splotches on the insides of my wrists, right where I rotate my arms about 45 degrees to hold on to the handlebars. Like a watch tan line, except only an inch wide.

So, if the first two real days of RAGBRAI training are any indication, I shouldn't worry about the eating/drinking while riding, or the demands it'll make on my muscles — only whether I can dip myself in a vat of sunscreen at each and every stop.

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