Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My trip to the weight room

The past couple years I have made a proclamation that I would lift weights in the off season. However, after a few ridiculously painful, leg-crushing sessions which made it hard to walk (let alone run/bike, etc.), I lost interest. This year, I again vowed that 2009-10 would be the year when I would truly commit to the weights. And why shouldn't I pursue the lifting? First of all, my m.o. is that I get hurt running all the time. I think there's little doubt that there injuries have been related to muscle weaknesses and imbalances. Since I have to become a MUCH better runner, I am going to need to do a lot of running, put in the miles, and get in the key workouts. This is not feasible if you are injured, so I have to put in the work to help prevent these problems. Furthermore, although I am a strong TT man on the bike, I lose sprints to 115 pound women. I have no explosiveness in my legs. Talking to several people, I was informed that lifting can really help develop some fast-twitch, as well as help a lot with climbing and general power output. I know I'll never be a pure field sprinter (probably too scared to do that anyway), but I know it will help me. It is tough to find the time for lifting, especially with three other sports to devote time to, but this year I really will stick to it.

Anyway, the magic date to begin the lifts was November First, which was last week. Here is my account of the first trip to the weight room.

As I ascended the stairs to the weight room, all I could think was "okay, let's do this... JEFFREYYYYY DOLAN!!!!" (If you don't get that reference, that is totally okay). The mission: Get in, do some easy lifting, and get the hell out of that place. The weight room is a strange place... lots of metal; lots of huge people who like to grunt. It is not a place where skinny white boys like me really feel at home. I am surprisingly weak, and can lift next to no weight.

Anyhow, I gt in there, did some core work in the corner (skinny white boys can still get 6-packs!). Then it was time to work out the chicken-legs. As I sauntered over to the squat racks, I took a glance to my left, and marveled at the site of the enormous football player hang-cleaning with over twice the weight that I was planning on using for my squats. I was also impressed by the guy with no neck, he could easily crush my head with his hand. Good lord, these dudes made me feel inadequate. Oh well, I told myself I just had to get in and out. So I went through the workout, attempting to blend in and not draw attention to my lack of strength. I did not even allow myself to feel embarrassed by the girls who were squatting more than me (and these girls were not even on an athletic team!). I was pretty amused by the dude who spent more time looking at himself in the mirror than actually exercising, though. I also lucked out, because I finished my workout right when the girl's softball team walked in. Now there is a group that would make me look WEAK!

The workout itself went pretty smoothly. I used very light weights to get the muscles ready for the next however-many weeks of lifting. However, when I finished, I still felt like someone had slammed my legs with a sledgehammer. I slowly shuffled my way out of the weight room, stopping to get some Purell out of the GIGANTIC Purell dispenser (everything is bigger in the weight room!), and tried to walk down the stairs. This was pretty awful, mostly because I experienced a bi-lateral Quad cramp. In order to get out of the damn gym I had to resort to supporting myself with both hands on the railings, and keeping my legs locked, swinging from the hips. Essentially, I looked like a 90-year-old Frankenstein.

Do not even get me started on how my quads and ass felt when I woke up the next day.

I will be much stronger after a few months of this. I do not see how it could not help. Now that I have a full week of it under my belt, my legs are actually becoming accustomed to the lifting, and I have been able to resume my run and bike training without much of a problem. I am pretty optimistic about all of this...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thoughts about Triathlon Coverage

Shortly after Kona weekend, my Mom pointed out to me that there was absolutely zero coverage of the Ironman World Championships in the local Rochester newspaper: the Democrat and Chronicle. So I thought about this. Does it even matter?

Although some triathlon coverage would be great, I think most Triathletes (or at least me) do not think it is the worst thing that we are out of the spotlight of the main media. USAT currently boasts over 100,000 members, and I think all triathletes share a very special bond because of the knowledge that to understand this sport, you have to do it. People that do not race or have a family member that races are very likely to have a hard time understanding 2,000 folks clad in spandex with 5-figure-priced bikes and single digit body fat running around like they escaped from the psychiatric hospital. It's really a bizarre thing from the outside looking in, and I think we like it that way. One of the best things about the sport is simply that it is NOT a mainstream sport like football. Perhaps we wish we were all jacked 225 pound black guys who can run a 4.2 second 40-yard dash and can tackle a truck. But, we're not, so we've created a sport where we drag our gaunt, bony bodies as far and as fast as possible, and scrape the depths of our soul in attempt to find what we are truly capable of. It's something you really have to experience to understand, and although USAT is going great with membership, the vast majority of Americans want to sit on the couch and drink 15 beers as their favorite NFL team beats the hell out of the other team. And maybe we don't really care about these people, because they don't care about us. We have fantastic coverage of triathlon on our websites that are written for triathletes, by triathletes (slowtwitch, competitor, everymantri, etc.). Let the guys on ESPN talk 'til they're blue in the face about how to stop the wildcat offense on the football field... we will quietly continue to trek on, testing our limits, and experiencing the inspiration and power inherent in one of the world's purest sports. I'm not sure if it would really benefit anyone if the D&C tucked a hidden passage in the back of the sports section that alluded to some Australian guy winning some triathlon.