February Cycling Challenge Results
Fitness challenges serve an important purpose. First they help the athlete focus on a specific part of their training. Second, they provide a measurable milestone which provide feedback. Third, if the athlete has taken the challenge seriously, it will result in improvements, regardless of whether the ultimate challenge was met.
A month ago I created a personal cycling challenge to help get myself moving more consistently and lose a bit of weight. The challenge was to cycle every other day, increasing mileage as I went and cover 230 miles by March 1st, culminating with a 20 mile ride. This seemed challenging, but I knew if I could stick to it and put in the mileage, I could get close.
Reality Sets In
The first three rides were fairly easy, but aggressive. I didn’t stick to the planned mileage, riding a mile or more than planned for the first two rides. The third ride was a bit of a stretch and fell just short of the planned goal. Then I started missing rides. Two days passed before I rode again. The body was realizing and feeling how aggressive it was to go from riding 8 miles to 11+ miles in no time flat.
This was the start of riding whenever I could while not pushing my body too far. It was also difficult to get rides in during the week of the 18th when an important client was in town for a project. While catching up to the plan was nearly impossible, I kept riding, trying to get a decent amount of miles in. It is more important to listen to your body and skip a ride for recovery than to push too hard and injure myself.
I completed the challenge with 144.4 miles compared with the 230 planned challenge miles. While this is only 63% of the distance, I still feel great about the challenge. Yes, I missed the ultimate goal, but my average ride went from 8 miles to 12 miles. I feel great and am quite happy to be spending more time on the saddle. Time in the saddle is a spiritual place where I spend the miles brainstorming and solving problems. The challenge was a success.
Did I lose weight? No. Starting weight was 229.8 with the final weight at 230.6. The change is statistically insignificant was the deviation across the month was 2+ pounds. After all of those miles sure would have been nice to be slipping into a smaller sized short. But at the end of the day, body weight ins’t necessarily an indicator of fitness. I feel and look more muscular than when I started the challenge. As an athlete works out, they build muscle, which is heavier than fat. So, a change in weight can be delayed as the body burns more fat than the muscle in builds. A better measure would be waist and wrist size.
The Next Challenge
With March 1st nearly here, I am thinking about my next challenge. I like the idea of doing another cycling challenge, but would also like to incorporate a dietary challenge. Cutting flour and sugar from my diet completely worked extremely well in 2008 and 2009 during my racing best. So stay tuned… a new challenge is coming.