(Cross-posted from Wired.com. See all cycling entries there.) Harrisburg: River Run
Harwich Port Run
Bristol: Wood/Hope/High Street Run
Bristol: Wood Street and Hill Repeats
Bristol: Wood/High Street Run

The lack of updates on my training hasn't been for the lack of training -- it's been about where that training has been taking place. I'm off work for a month, taking the remainder of the paternity leave for our new daughter's birth, and part of the month we decided to spend on the East Coast. But not just one stop. We set up a whole East Coast Tour, from Rhode Island to Cape Cod to Pennsylvania and then to Washington, DC. Two kids, eight bags, 17 days.

And no bike.

So what's a newly-ambitious athlete to do? I asked my coach, and the answer was as clear as it was unwelcome.

It was time to run.

Now, there's a reason that I'm a cyclist, and not a runner. Not to put too fine a point on it, but running...well, running sucks. It's hard. It's slow. It beats up your body.

And did I mention that it's hard? I've never really run with any sort of fitness intent before, and I was surprised just how tough it was to maintain what my runner friends would find to be a pretty easy pace, about 9 minutes a mile, give or take. Made sense, as I thought about it, lungs burning and heart rate soaring -- you're obviously using many more muscles to try and get through the run, especially in the upper body. The next day, it wasn't my legs that were sore or tired, it was my shoulders.

But trucking down the street in the East Coast humidity, sweat soaking through my shirt, I think I had a little bit of a conversion experience. I could see the same Zen in running that I find on the bike, the same winnowing of the world down to just keeping your speed up, feeling your breathing, and putting one foot (or pedal) in front of the other. And of course, given that there's always some running in a cyclocross race, I need to get used to this at some point.

Plus, there's the benefit that a 45 minute run feels like a lot more useful exercise than a ride of the same length. I might try and mix in some runs at lunch when time is tight, just to get more bang for my buck.

That said, I was back on the bike for the first time yesterday, and it was an interesting experience. Cardio-wise, I felt good, which was kind of the point of running. But my legs felt slow, my pedal stroke noticeably less fluid.

The trick here I suspect is, as ever, balance. And getting a travel bike.

AuthorMark McClusky