Testing My Limits
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Greetings, Sparklers! How are you all doing?
By the look of my last blog it's been about a year since I've visited. Here's a recap of what's been going on with me.
About a year ago, I had metabolic testing to measure my actual fitness numbers, such as my fat burn rate, and resting metabolic rates. It was an eye opening experience that changed how I approached diet and fitness.
Around the middle of last year, I got involved in a new project at work that was high reward, but also high stress. At some point along the lines, I stopped getting enough good food, rest, and exercise. This took its toll in a small rebound where I regained about 10 lbs. Not the end of the world, but any setback isn't great. The weight gain wasn't the worst of it, though. My overall wellness took a dive.
Recently, I got my fitness goals back on track. I've put more of a focus on my wellness. I have well defined boundaries where I start and stop work at certain times, then I go home and take care of myself: my food, rest and exercise.
I had my metabolic testing redone, and have some good and bad news. The bad news is my resting BMR took a bit of a hit during the past year and dropped about 400 calories per day. I attribute this to mostly not getting enough regular exercise, and high stress. I was also sick a week before my testing. Even though I was mostly recovered, I think my illness caused a slight temporary drop in my VO2 max, which effects performance.
The good news is my fat burn rate is pretty much the same. So I just need to get my stress levels and exercise back in order.
I'm still eating low-carb. I've tried keto, but I find with my activities, I don't really thrive at those levels. I still find Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint" the plan that works best for me. I eat protein, plants, and occasional fruit. I've resumed riding my bike or hiking when the weather is permissive, but I have a YMCA membership for inclement days. At this time of year, we have late day thundershowers during the time period after I get home for work, so I have to hit the gym.
I am getting activity every day. My metabolic coach wants me to perform HIIT near my anaerobic threshold 3-4 times per week. She thinks this will help with my BMR drop, as well as fat burn. I think she is right. My metabolism is overall healthy, so I see noticeable improvement with my HIIT workouts. The days in between are "rest" days, but I am still active doing something, such as a light hike around my neighborhood trails. I am moving every day.
I am continuing to self experiment. My latest is "Testing My Limits". When it comes to workouts, I have a tendency to go easy. I've started modifying my routines to push me harder by starting with the question, "What would I like to do with my fitness?"
One of my objectives is to complete a 20 mile bike ride loop on one of my nearby trails on a regular basis (usually weekends). So I took my bike and I tried it to see how far I could go.
The first 10 miles were a piece of cake. This trail is unpaved, but doesn't require any hard core mountain biking skills - no rock hopping. The first 10 miles has a slight incline, but it's not anything crazy.
At the end of my journey, I stopped at a local cafe for a nice lunch break.
My return journey should have been easy - mostly coasting on a gentle downhill decline with just a few dips and rises to climb. My average return speed should have been about 13-15mph.
Instead, I ran into a monsterous headwind that I estimate to be between 12-15mph. This made my ride back downhill even more difficult that my uphill climb. There were points when I was absolutely miserable, but I had no choice but to push my way through it.
When I finally made it back to the parking lot, I looked at my bike computer data. My first 10 miles was 1hour 15 minutes, average speed about 8-9mph. My return journey was 1 hour 45 minutes, average speed about 5-6mph.
I was completely exhausted. My muscles ached all over. I felt depleted.
And yet...I also felt proud. I was inadvertently pushed past my limits, but I powered through it and I made it.
Though I wouldn't necessarily do that again on purpose (I am now very diligent about watching the weather reports for wind speed before starting a ride!), I learned that I can push myself a lot harder than I have been.
I also learned that the 20 mile loop is a little bit challenging (even without factoring the wind), but that is what I want to be able to do. So I tried it, just to see if I could.
One of my local trails has much more varied dips and inclines, so the 10 mile loop is more challenging than the straight 20 miles from the other trail. I tried it last week, and failed miserably. I ended up hiking with my bike most of the way. But now I know that limit is too hard, I know I have work to do.