Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Taking steps to stay fit

As long as I have a job to go to, I will have to spend at least eight hours a day, at least five days a week, stuck in a building, responding to whatever customer or employer needs arise.

Working in a bike/ski shop, I do get to cut out onto the trails when snow conditions are good enough. This makes up for the loss of bike commuting and lets me try out equipment and techniques to stay current with the products. It also keeps my eyes bright and coat shiny, and my arteries relatively clear for the next bike commuting season.

When winter does not cooperate with either cross-country skiing or continued bike commuting, your dedicated riders will hit the trainer. Picture yourselves, my heroes, churning away, dripping sweat into the towel draped over the top tube, listening to music or watching a video or simply grinding through the tedium with only the whir of the machinery and the rasping of your labored breath.

When I used the Nordic Trak, I discovered that it was easiest for me to endure in a completely dark room, with or without music. Sensory deprivation was better than trying to distract myself with entertainment. Better yet, I've left the Nordic Trak in the crawl space for several winters now, because it's just so hellishly tedious.

Don't try to ride rollers in the dark. I need a fixed frame of reference to keep me from zinging off the side into the nearest piece of furniture. The Force fails me.

The other problem with indoor exercise is that you have to suit up -- or strip down -- for it and do just that for the designated length of time. You might say this is no different from going out skiing or taking a bike ride, but those are both fun and potentially practical, whereas indoor exercise is simply chopped out of your life in a sweaty, boring chunk. Note: if you pedal a generator to provide some of your domestic electrical power, or otherwise power some useful machinery with your exertions, you get to claim practical applications beyond mere fitness. But if you build that into your domestic energy budget, then you are a slave to that treadmill in any season.

Because I like to sit around drawing pictures, reading, writing and peeking into other people's lives on social media, I have to watch out for creeping sedentariness. A day goes by, and then another, more and more in a string until the the pile of coffee cups and beer bottles, and line after line in the training diary shows that weeks have slipped away.

Fortunately for me, my house has three levels. In a stairway winter, I take a convoluted path like a character in Family Circus going all around the neighborhood to travel ten yards.

When the cellist was here full-time, my work area was in the loft. It still is, but things have tended to collect on the main floor, where the wood stove and the kitchen are. It's really easy to remain down here under a cat.
The main wood stove is in the basement. That's another set of stairs I add to the route. It can be a real thigh burner by the end of the day. Hopefully it will be enough to give me some base line and offset my new baking skills.
That's apple crisp and sweet potato pie. I don't have pictures of the brownies, because they don't last long enough. A cup of fresh, home-roasted coffee and a nice warm brownie? I might never leave the house except to get more ingredients.

Fortunately, poverty leads to austerity. The last grocery run consisted of cat food and vegetables. I can't afford to get the medical conditions that accompany slothful consumption of sweets and fats. The uninsured and under-insured live like animals. And we die like them, too. If I get something as simple and treatable as appendicitis, my choices are bankruptcy or death. Any variable I can control, I will control.

I've also discovered that indoor temperatures in the mid and upper 50s are endurable if you dress like a mountaineer. A bit of vigorous scurrying around helps generate body heat. Temperatures like that discourage one from sweating on a stationary trainer, by the way. As if I needed more excuses.

Closer to spring I'll get on the rollers to reacquaint my butt with the saddle, unless conditions have opened up enough to resume the park and ride for a few weeks before launching the full road route.

1 comment:

John said...

I have often said "it is better to sweat than shiver" but you have given me more to think about. I must confess I believe it would be better to shiver than combine the two. =)