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Messages - Mathew C

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Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: July 21, 2010, 02:07:32 PM »
Wednesday, July 21

It's been a bit since I posted anything, because I managed to pick up a stress injury while working doing those sprint/hill/power workouts. The cause was two-fold: first, I didn't exactly ease into the higher gears, and my propensity for rapid strength and power gains came with the familiar result that my muscles adapted and put out more far sooner than my joints adapted to handle the stress. Second, I overpronate with very flexible arches, and after examining my alignment and where I felt the pain, I realize I've been overcompensating for it. Instead of putting the load in a straight line, my knees were flaring slightly outward and putting stress on the outer part of my knee.

I'm in good enough shape that I can take six weeks off and still be prepared for several consecutive 40-mile days, so I've been avoiding cycling and focusing on having a natural gait, rather than focusing on just not overpronating.

On a positive note, I'm getting a new ride, a touring bike*. My mountain bike has lived longer than I could have expected, even with the maintenance that I've been giving it - I've squeezed several hundred miles out of a $50-100 bike from Walmart. But at this point it's beyond repair, and my VERY enthusiastic father has decided that if we do this, we're doing it right. When I go with him to get the equipment he needs, I get a new bike.

*Bikes are classified along a spectrum.
At one end are road bikes:
  • Designed for long, smooth surfaces... such as roads
  • Skinny tires
  • Drop handlebars
  • Light, unforgiving frames
  • Usually, pedals with clips

At the other end are mountain bikes
  • Designed for rough terrain
  • Thick, knobby tires
  • Horizontal handlebars
  • Bulky, durable frames with shock absorbers
  • Clipless pedals

Hybrid bikes are in the middle, including various features of both mountain and road bikes, and are designed to be utilitarian. They're the ideal bikes for commuting or general use. A hybrid bike is light enough that you won't make it unnecessarily for yourself trying to ride long distances (as you would on a mountain bike), but strong enough that gravel paths and curb hopping don't run the risk of damaging a rim or your rear. Sounds like parkour to me. There are many variations of hybrids bikes, including cross bikes, city bikes, commuter bikes, and comfort bikes.

Touring bikes are closer to mountain bikes than to racing bikes. They are ergonomically designed for long trips, with
  • Best for long rides and trips, aimed at comfort and function rather than speed
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Flexible frames
  • Sturdy wheels
  • Lots of mounting points for luggage

If you have any questions about bikes, you can just ask. In fact, if you are remotely unclear on ANYTHING I say here, I would even appreciate you mentioning it. If I say anything helpful, useful, or informative, it will very likely serve as a draft for that guide on bicycle safety. Any comments or questions will serve to improve the quality of said publication.

On a final note, I attended Warped Tour yesterday. I'll elaborate on that later if I decide the adventure had enough strength and usefulness going on to be worth expanding on, and when I'm not this tired. For now, let it be said that the strong healthy back that comes from squats, deadlifts, and presses saved myself and many people around me from injury.

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 30, 2010, 05:01:27 PM »
I haven't been able to ride for a week - a very happy week for unrelated reasons, actually. No matter, I'm back on my bike, and had a very productive ride.

Wednesday, June 30
  • Warm-up from home to Town Center (3.5 miles) - gear 1.1 to 1.5, 2.3 to 2.5, 3.3 to 3.5
  • Ride from Town Center to Plaza America along the W&OD (.5 miles) - gear 2.3
  • Pick up job application for a position as a mechanic at a local cycling shop
  • Ride back to Town Center along the same route at the same leisurely pace (.5 miles) - gear 2.3
  • Sprint up and down the many hills from Town Center to the Community Center and back (5 miles) - fixed at gear 2.3
  • Ride back home via the parkway route (3.5 miles) - fixed at gear 2.3
  • Dumbbell bench press: 10 lbs x 5, 20 lbs x 5, 30 lbs x 5, 40 lbs x 5, 50 lbs x 5
  • Dumbbell incline bench: 50 lbs x 5
  • Dumbbell press: 50 lbs x 5
  • Drink a quart of milk like big Mark Rippetoe

  • I really like the structure of this workout. I'll probably stick with this once I make a few changes, mainly doing my lifting while I'm at the Community Center. As per standard workout theory, as described in one of the posts that our admins have been so kind as to sticky, it would go something like:
- warm-up: ride home to Town Center
- plyometric / explosive / speed work: sprint to the Community Center with a high cadence (80-90 rpm) and moderate gear (2.3)
- Lift weights
- Muscular strength / muscular endurance / cardio: sprint back with a moderate cadence (60 rpm) and high gear (3.5)
- Cool-down: ride back home
  • The 5-mile sprint to and from the Community Center took 20 minutes and 8 seconds, so for practical purposes I managed to average 15 mph.
  • The ride to Town Center always takes 25 minutes with almost no margin of error. It finally occurred to me that it's because the lights are each intersection are timed, and the cross lights correspond to the traffic lights. Unless I to ride significantly more slowly or quickly, I'll always get there in 25 minutes.

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 23, 2010, 07:17:40 PM »
Goals for the summer

I. Make 10 mph, centered around whatever the middle gear is on a given bike, a leisurely LSD pace, rather than one that I have to significantly push to keep up over a 20 mile ride

II. I've had some shoulder problems due to a strength imbalance between the push-oriented muscles and the pull-oriented muscles in my shoulders, so that needs to get worked out this summer

III. Build up base miles in preparation for a backpacking-style ride of the C&O Canal (184.5 miles in 4 days)

Notes on my goals:

I. I'm going to do this with power workouts, sprint intervals, just generally making my body accustomed to working at the highest gear on my bike at a cadence of at least 60 rpm (that's about 15-20 mph); once my body has adapted to that, I'll likely start stretching out the distance that I can hold this pace.

II. I plan to do this with bench presses and overhead presses, using both dumbells and barbells, with programming oriented toward high reps, moderate weight.

III. Basically I'm riding the C&O Canal with my dad, and I need to get ready. I also need to get him ready, because although he's a good endurance athlete who completed a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in recent years and didn't fall out of shape after he did it, he has zero base miles on a bike. I'm taking him shopping in the near future, probably when I go fix up my bike.

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 23, 2010, 07:05:41 PM »
And, to finally get up-to-date, a summary of my short ride today.
Wednesday, June 23 - brief ride, focusing on power
  • Warm-up from home to north point (1.5 miles) - gear 1.1 to gear 1.5
  • Continued warm-up from North Point to Town Center (2 miles) - centered around gear 2.3
  • Sprint along the W&OD from Town Center to the Community Center (2 miles) - fixed at top gear, gear 3.5 at a reduced 60 rpm cadence
  • Water break at the Community Center
  • Sprint back to Town Center (2 miles) - fixed at top gear
  • Cool down from Town Center back home using the parkway shortcut (2.5 miles) - centered around gear 2.3

Then briefly lifted:
Barbell press
  • 20 lbs x 5
  • 30 lbs x 5
  • 40 lbs x 5
  • 50 lbs x 10 x 3

Overhead barbell press
  • 50 lbs x 10

  • On the sprint back, my mile time was 3 minutes, 30 seconds, a new best... well, the first sprint I've clocked. But much better than my LSD time of 6 minutes.
  • I had forgotten how much water I lose in this heat (it's 80 degrees outside, and I'm very swedish); I could stand to have taken a more thorough water break at the Community Center.

Coming soon!
  • Summer goals
  • My plan for a final adventure of the summer
  • An explanation for the random push workout

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 23, 2010, 06:26:01 PM »
Adventure #2
  • This was moved to Monday, because I was impatient. I suffer from wanderlust a.k.a. the fun kind of restless leg syndrome.
  • I rode my dad's bike, because mine still has a flat

Adventure summary
  • Left at 6 in the morning
  • Warm-up from home to Town Center (3.5 miles) - gear 1.1 to gear 1.7
  • Rode the W&OD from mile 17.5 to mile 4 (13.5 miles)
  • Rode the length of the Custis Trail from mile 4 to mile 0 in Rosslyn (4 miles)
  • Went about 3 miles up the Mount Vernon Trail, then came back (6 miles) once I realized that the an 85 mile day wasn't plausible after the ride yesterday
  • Got on metro, learned that elevators are for bikes, not just the disabled. Good thing.
  • Took metro to College Park
  • Through the wonders of a printout from google maps, I found my way to my girl's house
  • Fell asleep

So... in anticipation of my largest single day to date (in terms of mileage), I was so excited that I could barely sleep. Literally, I only got a few hours the night before of forced sleep. So, Home > rosslyn > Mount Vernon > Rosslyn > College Park > Home became Home > Rosslyn > College Park > Nap time. It was hardly a waste - I learned about the geography of a small part of maryland, I have a new destination I can reach on my own power, and I got to spend my day with a pretty girl. Could be worse.

I might attempt a single ride to Mount Vernon next.

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 23, 2010, 05:14:12 PM »
Sunday, June 20

Went on the usual route through Herndon and Reston on my dad's bike to test it out before my adventure
  • Warm-up from home to Town Center along Reston Avenue (3.5 miles) - 1.1 gear through 1.5 gear
  • Water break at Town Center
  • Ride back home taking the parkway shortcut (2.5 miles) - centered around 2.3 gear

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 19, 2010, 01:51:13 PM »
This Tuesday's adventure will take me to Mount Vernon and to my girlfriend's house in (censored because she enjoys her privacy).

Here's the plan:
  • Leave at 5:30
  • Warm-up from Home to Town Center (3.5 miles)
  • Ride the W&OD from mile 17.5 to mile 4
  • Ride the Custis Trail the whole way through (from where it branches off of the W&OD to it's end in Rosslyn)
  • Keep going straight onto the Mount Vernon Trail (literally across the street from where the Custis ends) and go the length of it (18 miles)
  • Chill and have something to eat at Mount Vernon
  • Go back to Rosslyn and ride metro to College Park
  • Do my first/test bike commute to my girl's house, say hi, eat some more, then get back on metro relatively soon (bike's aren't allowed on trains during rush hour, which starts at 3)
  • Ride home from Rosslyn

After this ride, I'm undecided as to what destinations to go after. I'm open to suggestions, and I know a lot of the people here live in the DC area. Reading my trip summaries gives you a good idea of where I am (near mile 17.5 of the W&OD), but destinations just have to be accessible from somewhere along the W&OD Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, or the C&O Canal.

Training Journals / Re: Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 19, 2010, 01:37:52 PM »
Last Tuesday's adventure

  • Left home at 5:30
  • Rode to Town Center (3.5 miles) and hopped onto the Washington and Old Dominion Trail heading east at mile 17.5
  • Got off the W&OD at mile 4 and rode it the whole way into Rosslyn (mile 0)
  • Crossed the bridge into Georgetown, then chilled in Georgetown; ate half of my bag of pita chips, and half of one of the footlongs I got from the Georgetown subway
  • Rode the C&O Canal up to locke 10 (about 10 miles), then turned onto the footpath that leads to Plummer's Island
  • Spent about an hour wading around in the shallows of the potomac before concluding that Plummer's Island is, sadly, not landbound at the moment, but an island.
  • Stripped down, hung up my now wet clothes, ate the other 1.5 footlongs, then dressed and headed back to Rosslyn
  • It startet raining, so I chilled in the funky concrete architecture in Gateway Park and ate the rest of the Pita Chips while I waited for the weather to clear up
  • It did, so I got on the Mount Vernon Trail, saw the Washington Monument on the horizon, and followed it to find out how to get there on a bike
  • Rode around the monuments (I'd guess 10 miles, including the ride there) and played tourist for a bit, then I got a flat and had to get a ride back.
  • Overall: 50 miles in 4 hours, 45 minutes (with an extra hour of resting time)

Interesting note: while riding along the W&OD, I passed a guy who told me there was a crash ahead. Sure enough, there was a man lying on the side of the trail next to his bike, and another man standing over him. I talked to them, went into first aid mode for a bit (cleaned up and wrapped his bleeding hand, determined what kind of state he was in, etc) and called 911 to come get him. They came, and while the ambulance for the man was parked on the trail, a second man swerved to avoid the ambulance and broke his arm, so another ambulance came. After staying with the first man's bike until his wife came to pick it up, I got back on the trail.

Training Journals / Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 19, 2010, 12:14:50 PM »
Hey all. I'm Matt (the traceur on two wheels). To be totally clear, by "two wheels" I mean I'm a cyclist, and almost everything I write here will concern cycling.

I've always felt that cycling is very similar to parkour. Getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible using only the abilities of the human body... that's basically what I do when I'm on my bike, but I apply a few simple machines. Of course I wouldn't call it parkour any more than I would assign that term to any other safe, quick, and efficient discipline, but I certainly approach it with the same philosophy of useful efficiency and practical self-improvement.

Unfortunately, many cyclists don't share these ideas. I can't tell you how many cyclists I see who practice competitively, or take unnecessary risks. Many don't even know how to be safe to begin with. That's why, for my Eagle Scout project (I'm a Boy Scout working towards the rank of Eagle) I'm working to write, illustrate, and publish a freely available guide to basic safety, with an emphasis on trails in the DC area. I'll likely include much of my work here, to share the knowledge and possibly get some peer advice.

That's all for now. My next post will be a summary of the adventure ride I went on last Tuesday (my first big ride of the summer) and a plan for another ride this coming Tuesday.

Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 20, 2010, 04:24:14 PM »
Friday, February 19, 2010
Stretching. Rest.

Saturday, February 20
More rest. I'm still slightly sore from that strength test on Tuesday. Also, I accidentally slipped back into a habit of mindlessly snacking on empty carbs, so today I dealt with inflammation in my elbow when I really shouldn't have. Gotta monitor my diet better.

Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 18, 2010, 02:50:07 PM »
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Rest day.

Training Journals / Re: Matt Z's log (up for tips and comments)
« on: February 18, 2010, 01:36:25 PM »
Why not just focus on your upper body while your foot heals?

Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 17, 2010, 08:19:09 PM »
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Went light today. I'm definitely still feeling yesterday's strength test.

Squat 45 lbs x 5 (very wide gripped, I'm being careful with that shoulder)
Good morning 45 lbs x 10
Squat 45 lbs x 5
Good morning 45 lbs x 10
Deadlift 45 lbs x 5
(Squats and good mornings were done for stretch, and the deadlifts were done while pushing for a horizontal torso and correctly curve lumbar position)

   I discovered that, when placed at the bottom of the rack, a blank bar is not a standard 8" off the ground. It's actually closer to 10-12" off the ground. So... my flexibility still is a decent bit off from where I want it to be, and I'm not quite ready to begin any serious lifting off the ground.
   The classic bend-over-touch-the-ground hammy stretch is officially ineffective as a means to increased flexibility, since my lower back itself is apparently so flexible that I can press my wrists to the ground and STILL not have long enough hamstrings to lift properly. The squats and good mornings provided as much stretch as I asked for while serving as a good warm up, so I'll consider slowly introducing them into my program. The intervals at which the pins can be set are numbered, so keeping track of depth (as a measure of flexibility) should be easy.


Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 16, 2010, 06:16:27 PM »
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Spent 10 minutes being a practice partner for a friend who's working to supplement his wrestling with judo techniques and got to learn a few nifty take downs. Then spent 20 minutes experimenting with Muay Thai strikes with a heavy bag. I can't remember ever getting such a perfect warm-up: I was sweating, exceedingly loose and limber, and not worn out at all at the end.

Rack pulls with horizontal torso
45 lbs x 5
135 lbs x 5
185 lbs x 1

The objective was to determine how much I'm strong enough to deadlift - that is, what I can deadlift when flexibility isn't an obstacle. It ended up being just slightly more than bodyweight. At 135 lbs I was surprised by how difficult it was to lock my torso like I'd been doing with a blank bar, and especially by how involved my upper limbs were. 185 lbs wrecked me. The sheer amount of muscles recruited to grip the bar and keep my shoulders in place was something I haven't felt in a long time. This is going to be fun.


Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 15, 2010, 05:04:43 PM »
Monday, February 15, 2010
Shoveled more snow.

So far, had about a quart of milk. Weight is still plateaued.

Parkour And Freerunning / Do-it-yourself books
« on: February 15, 2010, 04:53:14 PM »
It's been established that for a novice without access to expensive personal training, the best source of information on applicable strength training is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. What about for other specific disciplines? Specifically, does anybody know of a comparable comprehensive novices' guide to any martial art?

(I had no idea what board this should go on, so I went with one that was somewhat appropriate and high-traffic)

Training Journals / Re: Steve's log
« on: February 15, 2010, 03:37:00 PM »
Why do you want to do 100,000 push ups and 150,000 sit ups?

Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 15, 2010, 04:55:21 AM »
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Rest. Homework. Light stretching.

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Rest. More homework. Even more light stretching.

I'm itching to get back into the weight room. With the help of a large mirror and some air DLs, I finally realized what felt off in my spinal alignment and adjusted my form accordingly.

Also, my weight (sans food, water, or gear) has plateaued at just over 170 lbs. Oh well. I feel great, I'm healthy. I'll keep eating big as I start lifting again and see my body reacts.


Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 13, 2010, 11:02:59 AM »
Friday, February 12, 2010
Light stretching. More massaging.

Weight before showering (with some food/water weight): 174.5 lbs.
So far I've managed to put on 11.5 lbs, and still lean. Woohoo.

Training Journals / Re: Matt's Log
« on: February 12, 2010, 08:35:30 PM »
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Shoveled, er, deadlifted my way through a few hundred square feet of snow for my family. Efficiency and usefulness ftw.
More massaging. Light stretching.

Weight before showering: 172 lbs

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