The downside of taking time off the bike – whether it be due to injury, travel, unforeseen life circumstances, etc. – is how quickly the body goes awry. Should any of you readers be under the age of 35, you won’t get the rest of this for a few more years, but it’s good reading (so that one day you can say, “Wow! I know what Tracy was taking about way back then!” when your own muscles turn to mush).
We put countless hours into training. We sacrifice time with family and friends. We stink beyond description by the end of a ride. No one can relate unless they are athletes. Those who are very serious about their training abstain from alcohol, eat unsavory chicken breasts twice a day, drop fresh kale into smoothies (and hope we can’t taste it), go to bed early, strategize as to how to get the most miles in one week around work schedules. Heck, some demented cyclists even set goals of capturing X number of KOMs a month in order to keep their egos stroked. We ride until our legs scream out in pain as our hearts beat furiously to keep the oxygen pumped into our ever-famished quads. We cover our eyes with one hand as we peek down at the scale once a week, hoping – and praying – for another few ounces to be shaved from our frames.
ALL FOR WHAT?
We are not professional cyclists. Most of us will never win a spot on the podium at a local race. Why are we so obsessed? You know why. You have it yourself – or you wish you did: PASSION.
Passion to excel. Passion to ride. Passion to be the best we can be at our chosen sport, even at an amateur or recreational level. And that’s the beauty of what we do.
Since my bunion removal surgery on Oct. 25, I have been a good patient. I’ve done what the doctor told me to do. I’ve followed all the rules. I even ate wisely at Thanksgiving, knowing that I would not be burning off another 8,000 calories a week, like when I was riding regularly. I’ve been doing core work, using light weights and resistance bands, stretching and even doing thousands of quad extensions with this stupid 2 pound boot on my appendage. For 4 weeks my weight remained the same and I was elated.
Somemthing happened all of a sudden. Seemingly overnight my muscles went to mush all over – not just in my left leg. The scale jumped up 3 pounds. I’m suddenly embarrassed to wear shorts because my legs look like my mother’s (sorry Mom, no offense). My superpower has now become a source of shame. By breaking out the tape measure the other day, on of my worst fears was confirmed: atrophy. My left quad and calf are officially 1″ smaller than the right. Ugh.
Now before you get all worried about me and send me notes of encouragement (which would be sweet and appreciated), do know that I’ll work through this. Ah – such is the life in the 50+ Club. Thankfully, muscles do have memory (probably much better than my brain, truth be told), and since Dr. Hoover released me to spin easy again, I will bounce back. Perhaps more slowly than before, but I will have strong, firm legs again by the end of the year I predict.
Until then, I’ll press on with the exercises I’ve been doing and turn into a raw vegan. Perhaps I should go on an all liquid diet of water and broth. What if…..?
What if I just stick to what I know to be true and healthy, and I practice some patience. That should do the trick. What do you think?