Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A new High did I go looking for another mountain to climb? Well yes and I also found a more challenging one. Close to Pune is Sinhagad (fort built by Shivaji) located on a high hill. There are two ways to reach the fort, one by trekking up via a trek route of about 4 kms, and two
by a road of about 11 kms (parking at the base to parking on top). The road is continuously inclined with a very little respite for a small patch. It has more than 6-7 hair pin bends.

So I thought, now that I can climb mountains, why not this? I chose a Saturday (on a holiday the road to Sinhagad is packed with people) and drove upto the base of the fort, carrying my cycle in my car harnessed to the back on a cycle carrier.

I started the ride around 7 AM. I started strong and kept the cycle in a higher gear to cover ground quicker. At first I was quite comfortable, but after around 4 kms, the high gear started to tell on me. The road was continuously inclined & steep. I shifted to the lowest gear and pushed myself just saying one thing to myself...that I should encounter a horizontal patch of at least 10 metres to get some relief from the pressure. But that wasn't to happen and towards the end, as if it wasn't enough to have a steep road, I also encountered wind resistance. I was steaming, dripping with my mind screaming to turn back and feel content that I made it so far.

That's the lesson, the mind always tries to settle you back into the comfort zone and will try all kinds of tricks to convince you to give up. It will attempt fear (if you go on like this you'll get hurt), confusion (still a long way to go, you wont make it), procrastination (come back tomorrow and try it), give up (not for you...this is for Lance Armstrong), etc. Here you need to do some soul searching to see if you really want this...if you want it, nothing can stop you. I have noted, that whenever ANYBODY REALLY wants something, he gets it, no matter what.

Well, I made it to the top, and lived to tell the tale. The feeling of reaching a new high is unmatched. You have to experience it to know how it feels. I urge you to go for it.

Technically, it took me 1 hour and 15 mins to reach the top covering 11 kms climbing. I took 3 breaks of 30 seconds for regrouping my body. and I followed all that I wrote in my previous blog on eating to recover.

BTW the next time I did it, I was more comfortable, did it in the same time with only 1 break.

Matter over mind :-)



Friday, May 09, 2008

Over the top

Dear friends.

Although the blog may appear to be a self praise note, I would like to clarify that the intention here is to share the learning from my life with my friends. I would like to spread the word on what worked for me and what didn't, so you all can benefit from this. Please look at this in the light of the above.

In one of my previous blogs I wrote about "Reaching the top". How I trained to overcome perceived physical challenges and a mental image of "impossibility" to improve my cycling capacity.

In this note, I would like to share how a human is capable of adapting to new situations, latching on thus allowing one to go further up and beyond.

As I continued to train myself, I found myself being able to cycle up the mountain in lesser and lesser time and also recovering much quicker from the grueling workout. I managed to cut my time from 1 1/2 hour to 1 hour in about 4 weeks of training. Also recovery improved to the point, where I can do this twice continuously.

I learnt that the inherent capability was present in me (read all humans) and I had to overcome my mental blocks to have the faith that I could do it and all I had to do was train myself scientifically to prevent a physical burnout or injury. I also realise that by visualising each trip in the way I would like it to turn out, I was able to achieve that and more. Let me caution, that at the physical level, you have to be scientific in the training, rest and nutrition. My training wasn't all about cycling endlessly. No, in fact it has a a solid mix of resistance training to develop strength, stretching to keep my self injury free, cross training cardio like running, a biweekly massage to help recovery, solid nutrition and good portion of rest. If I didn't do all this, I wouldn't be able to get to work and do my job without sleeping out of exhaustion.

Most people arrest their progress by "thinking" themselves into inaction. Overcome your mind to reach over the top. (I'll write a note soon on how one can do this)

Some ground lessons to serious cyclists/athletes for text book style recovery:
1. Eat a banana before you start a long session (2 hours+)
2. Carry and sip water which has glucose (dextrose 3 tablespoons to 1/2 a litre of water)+Electral powder to allow you keep hydrated. Believe me, it makes a big difference in being able to keep going without breaking down.
3. Have 1/2 litre of water for every 1 1/2 of exercise to compensate for the water loss.
4. On returning, immediately have a protein shake (1 scoop whey protein with milk/water).
5. After 1/2 hour to an hour, have a whopping meal consisting of potatoes (excellent carbohydrate source), grain (like chapati, rice, thalipeeth), fruit and curd/yogurt OR eggs.

So now whats I wrote earlier I am looking for the next challenge. By innovating, I could challenge myself on the same route progressively e.g. cycling up in a higher gear deliberately, or pushing for a faster speed to cut time down, doing it twice, carrying a heavier bag to add weight, push to stay ahead of a truck struggling to go up the mountain, etc.

Look for ways to make your life interesting. You can discover gems even in the same path you walk on daily. Push yourself to achieve more (isn't that what life is all about?), innovate, challenge and keep looking ahead. Live on the edge.

You do this, while I seek the next mountain to climb...all towards my goa trip on a cycle :-)