Dawn Patrol – the view is always the same

My backyard. Please use to orient rescue team.

My backyard. Please use to orient rescue team.

Items in an aspiring skinny guy’s fitness toolbox; cycling jerseys, training books, foul weather riding gear…and a loud alarm clock (paired with an understanding spouse). I’m not sure if any of you read last week’s rant - you know, the hellfire and brimstone one about leaving about 25lbs of cellulite baggage behind (no pun intended), but I’m back with a report on the good, the bad and everything in-between from week one of my quest to arrive at Sea Otter in mid-April with something resembling decent form.

Week One: Prior to coming 100% clean about how much I suck, I will state in all honesty that I came out swinging. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of last week I got in 2 hours a day of spastic backcountry xc skiing. My training partner is a bit of a dump truck himself – he’s not going to win sprint-distance anything anytime soon, but he’s still faster than me…and always willing to go at the drop of a hat. Never stops smiling either. Of course, he will wander away from time to time and when the trail points downhill you have to wait up, but for the most part I like having him along and he seems pretty stoked to get to go. Also, occasionally he will roll in poo. Or attempt to bring down an elk. Never a dull moment.

Taken from the monkey's perspective (the football is just out of the frame).

Taken from the monkey's perspective (the football is just out of the frame).

So. Three days of good effort, even if I do feel like a monkey on roller skates. Making the sweet proverbial love to a football. How can I suck this much? I’ve been XC skiing for 3 years. Not with any regularity, but still…really – am I this uncoordinated? This much of a wuss? I bought edged and shaped gear last year thinking that although it probably wouldn’t allow me to carve a SG turn when pointed downhill, they’d at least it’d alleviate the undistilled and abject terror that accompanies anything but flat or uphill terrain.


 Skiing has turned out to be one outlet of many for getting my matabolism up and my blood flowing, but it’s not the only one. Thank goodness…because I’m just horrible at it. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the metronome-like quality in most outdoor pursuits that puts my mind at ease and allows me to reapproach stuff from life, work, community or whatever else with a fresh perspective. If skiing were my only tool I’d never figure anything out. Too busy fearing for my own life, I guess.

I’m getting way off track.

Above in the first paragraph I mentioned things you need to get fit – gear, knowledge and commitment. Know what you need most? Time. I’m having a hard time figuring it out. We’ve got two little kids, one massive dog and an honest-to-goodness job – all of which require engagement along with a fair amount of care and feeding both in the literal and figurative senses. I think that the concept of commitment is closely paired with the ability to manage time properly and to best effect. In my case, I don’t seem to have much time. The dog needs walking, the kids need loving, the house needs cleaning and the blog needs writing. Among other things, I’m also easily distracted. Kind of like a clucking hen. Honestly, I seem to have the attention span of a 12 year-old. Come to think of it, that really shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Oh look – a review of the new Motorola Droid! Be right back…

You get the picture. Damn web browsers and their capabilities to keep multiple tabs open. I was so much more productive when there was less distraction. I don’t want to imply that I’m the only one that’s challenged by time management or having a family – clearly I’m not, but I do have limited innate weapons with which to address my stunningly poor ability to focus. And because of that, once I’m sitting at my desk I’m sort of locked in for the day. So early workouts during the work week are it – either that or late nights on the trainer.

I have yet to bust out the trainer, but I’m guessing that it’ll make an appearance this week. I just can’t ski every day and feel good about it. As a nod to my preferred discipline I may mount up my mountain bike instead of my road bike. (Point of information: it’s not actually MY road bike – my friend Keith loaned it to me about 8 years ago when I crushed an artery in my hand in a mountain bike fall. Yes, 8 years. It’s a USPS Trek 5500 if that helps. And yes, apparently I am that guy.) In any case, I’m actually shipping it back to Keith so I may not have a choice about which bike to put in the trainer – I’m really looking forward to the noise that a 2.4 tire generates tho’. Stoked about that.

I’ve also been to the gym a few times – but I stink at that too. Gyms weird me out a little bit. I’ve been working with a trainer here in Breck named Scott Ferguson…and he’s awesome, I just can’t seem to tear away from my desk consistently to meet with him. What I have learned from him are some basics about raising metabolism – making your big muscles wake up and fire off until they croak…over and over and over and over. After a workout with him there’s no doubt left that very few people in the world gave more than you did on that day…and you feel it. I walked like one of the dudes from Monty Python’s Flying Circus for almost a week after the first time we met. Gleaned from Scott’s warm embrace were certain facts about how your body works and what you need to do to keep it humming along, happily consuming calories in the background. Add rapid-fire push-ups, sit-ups, squats and spints to the regimen. Check. Awesome.

Food is another issue. I love food. Love it. I’m the primary cook in our house and that’s both a good and a bad thing. In general, I cook responsibly – light on fat and sugar, heavy on lean protein and veggies. The problem is eating balanced meals with consistency – deconstructing a lifetime’s worth of poor eating habits has been and continues to be a challenge. I’ve read the Schwarzbein book cover-to-cover, so I understand the need to eat both frequently and thoughtfully, but I’m just not there yet. Step one is having the right stuff in the house to munch on and step two is actually doing it. And my wife keeps making chocolate chip cookies…which are not only good, but very possibly the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever eaten – a bit of oatmeal, a pinch of cinnamon, brown sugar instead of white. They’re a cruel torture device designed to test my willpower. And they’re my Kryptonite. I love you, chocolate chip cookie…

So there are my tools; skiing, hiking/running/riding the trainer, frenzied calesthenics, sporadic trips to the gym, eating right, not eating wrong and trying to get up early.

For week one I’d rank myself on a scale of 1-5 with 5 representing right-wing fanatacism (or left-wing I guess) the following way:

  • Exercise: got out 4 out of 7 days. Ranking: 3
  • Diet: tried to eat frequent balanced meals. Actually ate a lot of flour-based food…including cookies. Ranking: 1
  • Getting up early: actually did it the 3 days that I tried, but plan was mucked up by a teething baby and a few sleepless nights. Ranking: 2

So on a scale of 1 through 5 (again, with 5 being awesome), my average for exercise, diet and time management was…wait for it…was a 2. Lame.

They're right - the view really IS always the same...

They're right - the view really IS always the same...

I know that I’m not the first person to suffer from lack of commitment and follow-through. In fact, there are some incredible examples of people who’ve demonstrated laudable willpower and resolve. I’m not there yet. But I’m trying.

So how did your week go?

Thanks for tuning in,

Velo Jones

2 Comments to “Dawn Patrol – the view is always the same”

  1. Sinjin 14 January 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    Rest week was rad, but now I am in the thick of interval sprints and plyometrics…the going is tough, but rewarding.

    Sitting here with my one Upslope Pale Ale of the night…recover carbs!

    Go hard or go home!

  2. Velo Jones 15 January 2010 at 9:00 am #

    Went for a ski last night with about 8 guys from the neighborhood – the backcountry around here can be a bit creepy at night. 8 guys is almost enough to make you feel safe. And descending on XC skis by headlamp will surely get your heart rate up!

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