Wednesday. Today’s “Well” blog in the New York Times discusses whether or not exercise boosts mood. I really don’t think you need such fancy studies, go exercise and come back and see how your mood is. Is it better? Probably. NY Times Does Exercise Really Boost Your Mood?
I don’t get the same kind of “high” from all kinds of exercise. In fact I have never experienced runner’s high. Probably because I don’t run hard or fast enough. I experience runner’s “serenity.” I feel running or jogging or whatever you call what I do elicits a more meditative state. I don’t get swimming high either. In swimming I get a feeling of feeling stronger and more powerful the longer I’m in the water. But I don’t feel a mood elevation. I do think running and swimming make me feel better — they make feel calmer and therefore happier but I don’t feel a mood elevation.
But the bike. That’s a different story. I get bike bliss. I miss bike bliss. I want more bike bliss. Bike bliss was the best part of training for an Ironman for me. I would come back from practice on Thursday mornings and I was high. I felt like I could conquer the world. Give me any problem and I could solve it — with a smile!! Even long rides, coming down Riverside drive heading home I would always get this feeling of all is right and my mood would be lifted. I was also hungry about that time but it was a great feeling.
I haven’t had any bike bliss in a long time. Haven’t had any coached rides since last year and I really stunk up the paceline last year anyway. I did come home with my bike bliss but it was always flavored with a sprinkling of exhaustion or dizziness or sadness that I just couldn’t keep up any more.
I’ve been having a really good time working out with Jen the last couple of weeks. I can’t keep up with her but just getting back out on the bike and sucking wind up State Line and Tallman hurts in a good way. Every time I make it up I feel a little better or stronger. I’m not riding my tri bike Tina now, I’m riding my road bike Betty as that will be closer to what I ride for Alcatraz.
Today I finally got a coached workout in with Coach Adam. I had to go for the 6 a.m. slot because daytime hours were just not working out. Somebody’s work would get in the way. I had a 1 hour workout this morning. We just repeated Harlem Hills. I think it was six times. I lost count in my breathlessness. Pushing as hard as I could only to have Adam tell me faster feet, push harder. I felt a little embarrassed that I couldn’t push any harder. I was just sucking wind. But I can say without a doubt I gave it all I had.
My only complaint about biking these last weeks is that I’ve been experiencing knee pain on every ride. I didn’t remember knee pain on my tribike. I was just chalking it up to being out of shape but I finally broke down and contacted Coach Jay about getting my bike fit looked at. He was kind enough to take me at 7:15 this morning after my workout with Adam. I told him I didn’t want anything fancy (I heard tell of video tape analysis etc.) I had done my initial bike fit myself and I thought it was pretty good. Maybe I just needed to move my seat back an inch (which turned out to be the opposite of what I needed.)
He took some measurements and I was happy to see that he wasn’t making any changes to my seat height or position. I knew that I had done that right. When I sat on my bike my knees were at the right angle, I felt my leg extension was good.
He had me ride my bike for a bit. He nodded a few times and mumbled something about “as I thought.” He noticed my hands were on the front part of my handlebars and not on the hoods or in the drops. No too uncomfortable I said, unless I’m trying to catch someone then I get down in my drops and push. But the pressing my hands on the front of handlebars was causing numbness in my hands.
Then he showed me the shocker. He showed me the video tape. I didn’t know he was video taping me! At first I was a little upset but as soon as he showed me the red lines it was fascinating. The red lines show the proper angle and if your fit is right your knee will fall in the red line. When I was just sitting on my bike and holding the front of my handle bars the fit was correct. But as soon as I had to shift or go into the drops, I couldn’t quite reach so I scooted forward and my knees jutted out past the red line. He explained it was like doing hundreds of squats with your knees going out over your toes. That’s why my knees were hurting. And that’s also why I wasn’t getting the extension or power any more. It made total sense.
So he adjusted the handlebar height and angle so I didn’t have to reach to get to my hoods or into the drops. It was an immediate miracle! I started to pedal and it seemed effortless. I could rest my hands on the brake hoods with no discomfort. My Drops were just as easy. Well I’ll be!!! I felt an immediate and marked difference. Wow. He also suggested that I invest in orthotics for my shoes because I pronate and when I push down I could be torquing my knee ever so little.
I left the bike fit and rode home. I couldn’t believe the difference. I felt like I was flying. There was my old leg extension I used to feel on my tri bike. There was a little power (not a lot) but definitely more than before. I felt comfortable!! It was great!!
So now I’ve got my bike bliss back. I feel happy. Ready to ride even more. I’ll alert the NY Times….