fitness

From Zero to Faceplant

I’m in week 11 of my training program. That’s pretty far into it! I’m going to be very honest straight away: I think I’m feeling a bit burnt out. It’s not because I can’t maintain the training, and it’s not because it’s not an interesting program, but it’s because I’ve had so many freaking hurdles thrown my way that it is starting to just feel like nothing but an uphill battle. And no, that’s an unintentional pun.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Climbing hills before the snow came in to wreck house.

Here’s the thing. I know Spencer would tell me that THIS feeling is a part of it. These emotions of frustration, exhaustion, stress, and ambiguity are a part of breaking through mental barriers to improvement. So I’m going to pretend like he’s the little birdy on my shoulder right now telling me that this is the hardest part. This is the moment when I make or break it. I can say, “fuck it,” and just go back to my old ways of riding all the time with no focus or goal, or I can persevere through this downslide and climb out the other side even closer to my intangible goal of “feeling stronger on the bike.”

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Trying to make the best of a messy situation.

Sigh.

Here’s what happened. I had everything going my way. I was crushing my rides. I was getting faster, stronger, and less stressed about big days. I did my 4500′ day without any issue whatsoever. I could have kept going, but we ran out of daylight. Climbs that have haunted me in the past are less nagging than before. My attitude is better. I was feeling and seeing gains! It was rad! And then, I got freaking sick. So sick. I got so sick that I turned to social media to help me get unsick. “Eat chopped garlic,” they said. “Drink Umcka root!” “Netipot!” “STOP EXERCISING AND REST.” Wait, what? No! I have all this momentum and things are going awesomely well!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Evidence that I can go uphill!

But my body had other plans and I was relegated to the house and netipotting my sorrows down the drain in a mucus-filled slobber fest. (Sorry. Graphic). I ate the garlic. I drank the root juice. I drank immunity smoothies. I drank Air Borne. I slept. I ate as healthy as I possibly could. I stretched. I went through seven boxes of tissues. SEVEN. I believed in Nyquil. And just as I was beginning to feel better the weather gods decided to crap on my parade and it snowed. It snowed so much that it became national news. We don’t do snow in urban Washington.

Still, I rode. We rode and slid and giggled and had a blast, and it was super fun, but it wasn’t helping me improve in any way other than a hit of endorphins. I confess that since this sickness and the snow my motivation is waning, and I’m struggling to see the point right now. I’ve been riding the trainer to the point where I feel like it’s all I can do to stay sane. Do you know how unfun sitting on an indoor trainer is every evening? It’s not sweet no matter what music you listen to or what movies you watch. But I am so god damn determined not to let my fitness slip that it’s kind of my main option right now.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Post-interval death face after a trainer workout

Spencer has tried mixing things up for me so I can at least have fun with the trainer workouts. He has created an hour long ride where I create my own playlist of slow song vs fast song and go hard on the fast songs and take it easy on the slow songs. It makes the hour go by faster and it’s kind of fun to at least pedal to all kinds of music that I like. Still, I feel my anxiety creeping back in as to whether or not this massive hit of weather and sickness is going to hinder me getting stronger. It’s a total mental game. I have GOT to learn to let go and roll with the punches. That’s easier said then done for a recovering Type A personality. I struggle with the loss of control and I most certainly do not control the weather (and as it turns out forecasters totally suck at predicting it too.)

As I sit here and type this I watch the over foot of snow starting to turn to slush. It’s too slick to ride. The snow was actually tracking well last week when it was cold and dry powder. Now it’s wet, and doing the melt/freeze thing. The moisture will no doubt wreak havoc on the trail conditions. Until we see some tropical rain in biblical amounts I think proper long rides are going to be on hold. I called Spencer just prior to posting this for a little woe-is-me session. He told me that I am not alone in my frustration. All of his clients are reeling, and he is too. And they all have real goals like races, events, big distance things, numbers to hit, etc. I’m just trying to test myself. The best part about working with Spencer isn’t that I’m getting better, it’s the fact that he’s been through every single part of this and he knows exactly the mind games that I’m dealing with right now. He knows when you just have to let it go and when you have to mix it up and more than anything he knows that the work that I’ve done until this point is strong. It will carry me through this white mess of slushy goo. My fitness will not melt away, but the snow will. Eventually.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG My steadfast training partner…and my beautiful Process 153 CR DL

Long story…long, I’m in a rough patch. It’s full of snow and snot and sub-freezing temperatures. But there is some kind of joy in knowing I’m not alone and that this will all go away. For now, it’s back to the trainer and yoga and sleep and sliding around on snow (I just ordered a new splitboard Woohoo! Cross training!)

Yoga for Cyclists: CORE

As with all activities, our core is our main support system throughout our entire body. If it’s weak we suffer. If it’s strong, we persevere. These poses are serious core strengtheners and don’t just focus on getting you sexy abs. They’ll get into transverse abs, obliques, as well as your sexy six pack muscles. With any yoga pose, it’s important to keep your core very active- as if you were wearing a corset. Basically, suck it in so it gets fired up. Try doing these core stretches three days a week to keep your body supported longer on your rides.

plank

1. Plank Pose – Plank is a tried and true method for scoring major stability in your center. Come onto hands and knees like you’re in an easy pushup position. Lengthen your legs behind you so they’re straight. Push down through spread palms so your shoulder blades are very active. The goal is to keep your chest pushing up towards the ceiling. Your hips should be close to level with your shoulders. Press back through your heels to lengthen the muscles in your legs. Keep your neck long by looking just a few inches beyond your fingertips. Do not let your hips sag. When you start to shake you’re doing it right. Keep your hips lifted and hold for 10 long breaths.

forearm plank

2. Forearm Plank Pose – Just like Plank, Forearm Plank will get you firing quickly, but this time you’ll have the added benefit of bringing your shoulders and obliques into the equation. Bring your forearms to the ground. You can either have them parallel to each other or with your hands clasped together. Press into your forearms and lift your hips while pushing back through your heels. Your hips want to sag here, but the challenge is to keep your torso corseted and your hips lifted to shoulder height. Iron out your neck by looking down near your hands. Breathe into the space in between your shoulder blades. Smile. Hold for 10 breaths.

side plank

3. Side Plank Pose – From your plank pose shift your weight onto your right hand and right leg. You’ll want your right arm to be in socket here, so take caution to put your arm directly under your shoulder. Stack your left leg on top of your right leg. Push deeply into your spread right palm and actively lift your hips. This is getting into your transverse abs which wrap around your entire center. You’ll feel it in your low back as well. For extra challenge lift your left leg off of your right leg. Your left hip will be singing, but know that you’re getting into tiny muscles that add power on the pedals. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.

side plank forearm

4. Forearm Side Plank Pose – For a surprisingly challenging variation on side plank, try using the forearm variation. Place your right forearm parallel to the top of your mat (or pretend like you’re on a mat and make your forearm perpendicular to your body). Again you’ll want your shoulder to be in joint as much as possible. Flip onto your right side as you did in regular plank. Focus on keeping your hips lifted again. If you’re feeling feisty lift your left leg up and hold for a few breaths. Repeat on the second side.

Try to repeat these core exercise a few times throughout the week. Add in variations as you gain strength. These could be lifting a leg, raising and lowering your hips toward the ground (like sideways dips), or holding with just your fingertips.

 

Story Photos: Paris Gore

Cover photo: Paul Kelly