Archive for the ‘cross training’ Category

The Zen of Running the Track   Leave a comment

Mid-January – the extraordinarily warm weather in Edmonton has given way to cooler, more seasonal temperatures. That, and especially the extremely icy conditions, have curtailed outdoor running for me (and cycling the roads is likely two months away). What’s a guy to do?

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in years and that is run indoors on a track. I have had a negative mind set against running indoors – BORING! (and that includes treadmills). I find that time slips away so much quicker when I am running (or riding for that matter) out of doors. I headed over to the University of Alberta “Butterdome” with its 200 meter track. It was such a joy to run on.

Once I got going, I had to keep an eye on my heart rate so that I didn’t go too fast and tire out too quickly. I was aiming for a 40 minute run and that’s what I did. I’m not sure how far I went but it must have been a little over 6K – but that doesn’t matter. What I really enjoyed, especially after the icy conditions of my recent outdoor runs, was the absolutely sure footing. When I don’t have to use 90% of my brain just to pick out safe places to put my foot with each step, I can go into a meditative/contemplative state – I love that! Going around the track, I was aware of my breathing and running form and other than that, not much. I was at peace.

After 30 minutes of “warm up” I did allow myself to do a 50 meter acceleration each lap. That felt really good and again it was not something I would try outside except in the driest of conditions. Having been on the track this once, I will keep going on a regular basis (maybe 2 or 3 times a week). I do hope to introduce a bit more interval/speed work as I get back in better shape.

As I write, the snow is starting to fall. I hope we get enough to cover up the ice and even better if there is enough to cross-country ski and snowshoe upon. Whether that happens or not, it ‘s good to know that the track is a good option for keeping active until spring cycling.

Posted January 14, 2012 by Randy Talbot in cross training, Running

Tagged with , , ,

Half Way There? – Not Quite :-(   Leave a comment

It has been 8 weeks today since my last ride. I am still fondly remembering that trail ride through Edmonton’s river valley and starting to wonder when I might next get out on two wheels. It is probably going to be another 10 weeks before the streets and paved trails are passable and another 4 weeks after that before I want to tackle the dirt trails. So what to do till then?

One option is of course to just damn the torpedoes and keep on riding. I was thinking again this year of getting a studded tire or two for my mountain bike and continuing to ride the trails. I certainly see other people around town doing that and I do have admiration for them. With the winter that we’ve had in Edmonton so far, the temperature certainly wouldn’t have been an issue for riding but there is a lot of ice on the paths and I am not a fan of ice.

The second option  (and again one I seem to think about every winter) is to get an indoor trainer and ride in my basement. I spent a lot of time last year comparing the various trainers but I never did figure out what would be the best choice for me and missed out on picking one up last spring  at an end of season clearance price. I worry a little bit about the boredom of riding indoors but if I can mix it up with a little outdoor activity I could probably get my legs and lungs in decent shape to hit the roads in April.

My third option is cross training – turning to other activities (running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing) and this is probably what I will do. I’ve started off the year with some regular outdoor running (including a run in shorts on January 4th to take advantage of a very unseasonable temperature of +11). The river valley trails have been plowed which despite best intentions means they are icy. Careful attention to where one steps is required. I find this really detracts from the meditative effect of running that I so enjoy on dry trails but nonetheless it is great to be out in the fresh air (and frequently the winter sunshine). I am looking forward to a return to more average winter conditions and especially to more snow to cover the icy ground, so that I can get out my skis and snowshoes.

So what are other Edmonton cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts doing to keep active through this winter?

First Winter Run   Leave a comment

I went out for my first winter run for the season. It is hard to believe that it it nearly 4 weeks already since I last had the bike out on the trails of Edmonton’s river valley. On the one hand it feels as if that ride were just days ago – on the other hand it seems like a distant memory.

Today’s run was decent weather wise – a degree or two above freezing, and overcast as I set out shortly after noon. There was a bit of a breeze and even some blowing snow near the end of the run but it was refreshing. I certainly don’t mind winter running as long as I am dressed appropriately – not too lightly or heavily. The one thing I hate about winter running and it certainly came into play today is the ice! Ice takes the fun out of running for me. Instead of gliding around on autopilot in a meditative state it seems as If my full attention must be directed at the act of running, picking out a safe spot for each footfall and being prepared to correct when I do accidentally or unavoidably hit a slippery spot.

With a bit of a warming trend in recent days, the snow surface had melted down and refroze. I found both the snow/ice covered paved trails and the dirt trails equally treacherous. Some sections of the trail  (Downtown Edmonton between the Grierson-Cloverdale footbridge and Walterdale Bridge) weren’t too bad (for example, the wooden bridge deck itself) but it seemed anywhere there was even a bit of a slope, there was also an icy trail – a most unwelcome combination.

Nonetheless, I did make it safely around my loop (approximately 8K) and didn’t feel to bad. I even started thinking about getting serious about the running this winter with the goal of a marathon in 2012 (but no decisions yet).

Also making today run enjoyable was the music that accompanied me. I was listening to the recently released Kate Bush album, “50 Words for Snow” . It was soothing and seemed very appropriate for a cool, grey day with a light snow falling.


Posted December 6, 2011 by Randy Talbot in cross training

Tagged with , , ,

With Spring Comes…   Leave a comment

I know you are expecting me to say “the start of a new cycling season” – perhaps I’ll tell you about getting out on the road for my first ride of the year. Well even though yesterday was the first Saturday of Spring 2011, I actually didn’t get out on the bike (as much as I would have loved to). Truth is … I was on the golf course.

At Riverside Golf Course in Edmonton

Bigger truth is … I wasn’t golfing (as much as I do enjoy that when I can). No, golfing was not even a remote possibility in this year when winter will just not break and the ground is buried under half a meter of snow!

Snow!? The only logical thing to do is get out the skis and take advantage of it.

My skis in the tracks

I am embarrassed to admit that this was the first time I’ve had my skis out in the 2010/2011 winter season (and here it was spring already!) I’m not sure what happened – just busy I guess and by the time we got through January I suppose I was just thinking forward to spring and cycling. Anyway, I found my trusty old skis and some poles in the garage and dug my boots out of a bin in the basement. I found some old wax that I figured would work for the minus single digit temperatures and rubbed it on. I threw on some clothes that would do the job and headed over to one of my favorite local cross-country ski sites – Edmonton’s Riverside Golf course. I wasn’t sure what to expect for ski conditions. We had some thawing in late winter which I expected would have made the tracks icy and left the off track areas covered in a crust of ice.

Tracks on the Fairway

I was pleasantly surprised – the conditions were excellent. A light snow over the last week had covered any ice there may have been on the tracks and when I went off-track I found a bit of a crust but nothing serious. I started off skiing down the tracks along the sides of the fairway, happy to get into that nice kick and glide rhythm. Before long I was off making my own tracks. It took a bit of effort to break through the snow but I was enjoying myself and I didn’t mind.

I was surprised not to see even one other skier out on the course. The snow conditions were great  and with a temperature of about -5C, you can’t complain about the weather (not for skiing anyway).

Tracks of a Herringbone Climb

After a bit of time skiing the flats I found myself at one of my favorite playgrounds. At the east side of Riverside the golf course creeps up the bank of the North Saskatchewan River. this makes for some challenging elevated greens in golf season and some hills on which to practice ski turns in winter (or early spring). The only thing about downhill skiing on x-country is you are on your own – no tow or lifts . If you want to come down you’ve got to climb up. So that what I did – a couple of times (only). You turn the tips of your skis out so you don’t slide downhill and step, step, step.

These hills aren’t too steep, not too long, but they so allow one to get up a bit of momentum in order to carve a turn or two. I love doing telemark turns  on my cross county skis. I was very pleased too link two simple turns together on my first run down. Then  I turned around and “herringboned” back up hill for a second run.

What goes up...

For my second downhill, I started a little higher, went a little faster and … well you can probably guess where this is going. I linked a couple of turns together then found myself going a bit too fast through the bit-too-crusty snow. My skis went apart and down I went (see the big depression in the snow in the photo). That was when I truly realized how much snow there was on the ground. It was a challenge to get myself upright; to twist myself around and then push my poles through to the ground so I could leverage myself back upright.

After that fun I stuck mainly to the relative flats of the open fairways (but I did go down one more time and had even more trouble getting upright). I ended up being out skiing for an hour and a half. Curiously I did not see any other skier  but on the way back I did step off the trail to let a mountain biker go by.

I started off the day and weekend as a frustrated and unhappy cyclist, but I was happy to discover my happy inner skier.

As for cycling … maybe next weekend (but hopefully there will be one of two more ski outing too)

Posted March 27, 2011 by Randy Talbot in cross training

Tagged with

Got the It’s-September-and-I-Haven’t-Ridden-in-a-Month Blues   Leave a comment

It’s almost the middle of September and another weekend has slipped by without me getting out on two wheels. I’m not sure what has happened to what was supposed to be such a great year for my return to cycling. The summer has flown by, I’ve been busy with other things and I guess one of the biggest factors is that I haven’t had a cycling  goal for late summer.

The year started off great with riding in March, while there was still a fair bit of snow on the ground. The motivation for that time of year was the commitment I made to ride the Golden Triangle on the third weekend of May. My riding fell off a bit but I still kept going in June and July with my goal to ride the Tour de l’Alberta on July 25th. Although I did not do anywhere near enough riding to attempt the 185K distance and had to scale back my goal to the 100K distance but successfully completed it . After that ride I fully intended to take in a weekend trip with the EBTC and a number of day rides. That never happened though. Lesson for next year will be to find a significant commitment for a late summer tour – a Labour Day weekend tour would be ideal.

While my cycling hasn’t been happening I am pleased with my cross training progress. In August I got back to running. Some new shoes seemed to have cured the running injuries that had plagued me early in the year so I’ve been able to get in a couple of runs a week. I’m also pleased that I have been able to get into a regular yoga routine. For the last month I’ve done a session of yoga each morning, averaging  about 20 minutes and gradually adding asanas and lengthening the duration of each session. It is going to be a very long term project to reach the flexibility I’d like to have, but I am pretty pleased so far just to have gotten into the habit of a daily yoga practice.

And cycling is not over for the year. I fully expect to be able to ride through October and with a bit of luck November. I will be restricted to weekend rides and will have to pull out the the cold weather gear – but the same stuff I started riding in back in March. My main challenge will be getting back in the right frame of mind to get out on the road and trails. I will probably increase my trail riding and may even put some knobby tires back on the mountain bike but I will be back!

Posted September 12, 2010 by Randy Talbot in cross training, Cycling

Tagged with , ,