A year ago, I write about what to consider before getting a Peloton stationary bike. A few friends have since asked me if I was still using the Peloton as much, and whether I thought it was worth the rather-large investment.

The short answer is yes and yes. Here’s a bit more detail if you’re still on the fence about getting a Peloton:

  • Peloton resources. I have watched a couple of the set-up videos again, especially about the height of the bike to accommodate my height (5-foot-5). But it’s been quite a while and I now automatically just know which settings to use without even thinking about it. As for the Peloton Facebook group, I genuinely couldn’t handle it after a month or two. Those people are nuts about their bikes. Lesson learned: You may fall in love with the bike and may want to wax poetic about each and every one of your rides. That’s just not for me.
  • Comfort. Once I got padded shorts and learned how to properly sit with my bum in the very back of the seat, I haven’t had any problems with pain or discomfort. Lesson learned: Invest in a few basics like proper shorts and shoes. Just like with other sports, it’s always worth spending a little bit of money for the gear.
  • Difficulty. It took a few months, but I can now easily handle an hour-long class. I found it very important to test out  a few coaches before settling on someone whose personality, music and difficulty fit my needs. I’m currently partial to my boo Cosby Rigsby, in large part because he’s encouraging and positive, and plays Latin music. Oh, you noticed he’s good looking? Yeah, there’s that. Lesson learned: There are literally dozens of potential combinations of coaches, music, length and difficulty. Try a few things, then try a few more. You will find the right fit and will enjoy the variety.
  • Shoes. I found my shoes to be a bit uncomfortable and almost gave up on them. Instead, I now wear slightly thicker socks and my feet feel great. I still can’t clip and un-clip with ease, so I just leave my shoes in all the time. El husbando takes them off when he uses the bike and has yet to complain. It works for us. Lesson learned: Some of the classes involve a lot of getting up from the seat and — if you’re dancing with Cody — sometimes even some dancing. I don’t think I could do half what I do on the bike without the stability that comes from the cycling shoes.
  • It’s still biking. Yes, but this klutz also feel a whole lot safer. Since I’ve since had my fourth shoulder surgery, I appreciate that I don’t have to worry about falling. Or being chased by dogs. Or swallowing bugs. Lesson learned: I thought the experience would encourage me to get a real bike. Meh. I don’t see a reason to at this point.
  • Consistency. Absolutely my most-favorite thing about the Peloton is that I can ride it any time of day year-round. I’ve used it before the sun came up and just before bedtime. The bike helped me stay active right after my shoulder surgery and during periods when I’ve been injured and benched from running. And I got a ride in earlier this week when the temperatures were double-digits…below zero. Lesson learned. The Peloton bike has been one of the best things I’ve done for my running. It’s great cross-training that I can easily squeeze in, even on the busiest of days.

So is a Peloton bike for you? Considering the bike with all of the gear and a year’s worth of classes cost more than my first car, you would think that I might hesitate before answering that question.

Given how much use el husbando and I have gotten out of it, it certainly has been a great investment for us. Going in, I wasn’t really sure whether I would either enjoy using it or whether I would really include it as part of my training plan. But I’m pleased to look back and see how it’s become an integral part of my weekly training plan — a plan that my sports medicine and manipulative medicine doctors both agree is the right one for me.

So, have you gotten a Peloton? Still planning on getting one? Why or why not? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

El husbando and I just got home from a week-long, 25th wedding anniversary Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Magic and I am happy to report that I also did some running on the ship’s outdoor track. The cruise — and the chance to run outside with a beautiful view — were glorious.

If you’re booked on the Carnival Magic, or are considering scheduling a vacation on this beautiful ship, here’s what you really need to know about getting your outdoor runs in while cruising:

Don’t expect to do any speed or significant distance training. The Carnival Magic’s outdoor track, on the ship’s Spa and Sports Deck 12, is on the aft (back) side. This means that the track is very short, so you’ll have to go around seven times for each mile. While handy to have an outdoor option in addition to the treadmills in the fitness center, it also means a lot of running around in circles. Very short circles.

Shot of the Sport Square sign on the Carnival Magic cruise shipBring your patience. I ran in the morning, between 7 and 8, before a lot of people were out and about (even the deck-chair hogs don’t come out in force until after 8!). Still, other passengers meandered onto the track, and many ignored both the unwritten rules of having walkers on the inside so runners can pass on the right, and didn’t mind the big arrows showing which direction to face. I saw full families enjoying being outside, wearing flip-flops, walking side-by-side, also blocking the entire track. I tried giving them a friendly “on your right/left” warning, but it only served to startle them, so I just did my best to go around them. The mini golf course is in the center of the track, too, so you’ll be picking up kids’ wayward foam balls. Remember: you’re on vacation, so just go with the flow.

shot of the Carnival Magic cruise ship outdoor running track

It will be hot. Unless you’ve been training in the south, or were born on the sun, doing anything in the Caribbean is going to cook you. And because you’ll likely be running much slower than normal, you’ll want to wear sunscreen and a hat or visor because you’ll be out there longer than usual. That said, when the ship’s moving, you’ll also benefit from some resistance training because the area is ridiculously windy.

You can’t beat the view. Despite the aforementioned inconveniences, running on the outdoor track means gorgeous views. Whether it’s on a day-at-sea or a port-day, you’re surrounded by blue skies, azure waters and, sometimes, even mountains.

Shot of the wake the Carnival Magic left behind, as seen from the back of the shipShot of the island of St. John's in the Caribbean from the Carnival Magic outdoor running track. It shows boats in the water and the mountains in the background.

But wait, there’s more! The Magic also has an outdoor gym in the area called the Sport Square, with weight-lifting machines and even some spots to do sit ups and pull ups. The area was big enough that I was able to do a shortened version of my post-run yoga routine to stretch. Signage in the area includes some very basic instructions on how to use the equipment, but I didn’t want to risk injury by trying something new as I’m getting back to running after a calf injury.

Shot of the Carnival Magic sport court, which features exercise equipment

Sure, being on vacation is a great excuse to take a break from your training plan. But it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy this particularly welcoming area if you’re fortunate enough to sail on the Carnival Magic, even if only to balance out all of the chocolate melting cake you’re enjoying in the dining room.

Are you booked on a cruise? Have you gotten to run on the Carnival Magic or another cruise ship? Do you have other tips to add? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

It’s been two-and-a-half-months since Dr. Awesome benched me because he (and since then, another doc) diagnosed me with micro tears on my calf muscle, yet I’m still working out four or five times per week and sweating as much as ever.

I had to take some time off in the beginning, but I’ve been cleared to increase my activity, using pain as my guide. Translation: any pain = stop. So far, so good.

Since I’m not spending a chunk of my weekend mornings running double-digits, I seem to have a little more time on my hands. I’ve invested that time painting most of the inside of our house, including our loft, which we’ve been wanting to turn into our gym.

So el husbando and our favorite 21-year-old moved the treadmill and our bike around so I can be right by the window, under the ceiling fan, and still have enough room to spread out my yoga mat. It’s awesome and long overdue!

Here’s what else I’ve been up to:

Swimming

Never, ever, ever thought I would try swimming, nor that I would enjoy it. It is HARD work and I’m easily winded by even the shortest swim. But I’m doing it once a week, and loving it.

A local gym offers a skills-and-drills class as part of its triathlon team, so I’m re-learning how to swim properly, including how to be more efficient, so that I can spend less energy on what is typically the first leg in a tri. Our coach has been incredibly patient with this newbie swimmer, and I’ve only had to buy a couple of things, including proper goggles.

My friend Michelle was right when she said this would be a good fit for me. The only thing that I’m struggling with is, not surprisingly, the whole wet-hair issue, post-swim. I have to come home to wash and dry my hair, making this quite the production.

biking

Yet another form of exercise I didn’t expect to enjoy remotely, but that is becoming easier and more enjoyable. When el husbando and I first got the Peloton, I was skeptical about how much we would use it, but I’m up to four rides per week — from 30-minutes to a full hour. And today, I added a 10-minute arms workout that left my arms feeling like Jell-O.

Currently considering ordering a second pair of cycling shorts. I should note that, yes, you do eventually learn how to sit properly on the thing so your nether regions don’t hurt.

Yoga-ing

I was just cleared to do yoga less than two weeks ago, but I’ve managed to spend a bit of time on the mat. Surprisingly, both my shoulder and my leg felt just fine afterward.

My cat was especially happy that she could stretch out on the yoga mat.

running

Wait, what?! Yeah, I ran for a whole 10 minutes at physical therapy last week and it felt like Christmas morning.

The therapist hooked me up to the Alter G, an anti-gravity treadmill. First, you wear some super-tight shorts over your clothes, then get zipped into a donut-shaped contraption in the middle of the treadmill.

Once you’re securely in the donut, the machine fills with air, taking off a percentage of your weight off. So, basically, with the machine, you can weigh, say, 40 lbs. less.

It feels like you’re walking or running on air. You feel really light, which is the whole point because your body is taking a whole less pounding than on a regular treadmill. Since I felt so good on the ‘mill, the therapist said that I may be able to start using it for longer periods of time. If she clears me, I may sign up to use the Alter G out-of-pocket for a few weeks until I can run on my own.

This new development has be excited that I might be running — even just a little — by the beginning of the year.

So, how are y’all moving these days? Do you have any running- or non-running-related goals? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Quick post to share that I went to a swim class and, if the only photo I was able to take is any proof, it left me a bit deranged.

I snuck this picture in the changing room after making sure no one else was around, but I heard the door open and there was no time for retakes.

Back to the swimming. I am still benched from tearing my calf muscle, so I haven’t run in more than a month. And it’s driving me more than a little loopy. Sure, I’ve been riding the Peloton bike (love me some Cosby Rigby and his Latin music class!) but it’s just not my thing.

A friend (hello, Michelle M.) has been suggesting I try a triathlon because, well, because we tend to make bad choices together. Michelle actually did her first 50K with us in September.

So, I checked out some local tri teams and settled on Court One because they have an evening class on Wednesdays that I can actually take.

It. Was. Hard.

I was breathless after swimming 25 yards (I think it was yards), let alone doing it over and over. I did it in what we called a frog swim when we were kids. Then the coach gave me some pointers and had me work on my kicks, arm strokes and, at last, putting my face in the water.

We used both a yellow kick board and some sort of foam floatie that goes between your legs. I was breathless every single time. In fact, the coach’s 11-year-old was having lots of fun lapping me over and over. And she wasn’t even trying!

In the end, I felt like I got a great workout, the water wasn’t as cold as I was expecting and I didn’t die.

So, I plan to go back. Still deciding about the rest of the tri team training, since we do have the bike st home and I prefer to run outside with my friends.

So, swimmers: any tips? What kind of goggles do you like? How can I keep my hair from getting wet despite wearing a cap? Do I really need a proper Speedo or can I keep wearing my mom suit?  (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

We plan, we train, we sacrifice. For months at a time, we make races our priority, making sure we get our miles — and cross training — in while taking care of our familias, work and other responsibilities.

Reaching that finish line makes all of the trouble worth it.

But what happens when you do all the things…and can’t do the race because you’re injured?

Just three days before the Detroit Free Press Marathon, I got benched. I pouted.

My right calf had felt tight until about a month before when I had to walk quite a bit of one of my runs because it just hurt. The pain subsided and I was able to run the rest of the way and I did the whole rest, ice, compression and anti-inflammatory routine when I got home. I babied the leg for a few days and got back to training.

About three weeks later, the same thing happened the weekend before Detroit, except that the pain got worse and didn’t really go away. I walked a couple of miles back from the day’s long run. I did all the things again, but didn’t get better, so I called Dr. Awesome and he was able to squeeze me in.

Boy, was I relieved. He can fix it, I thought, and then I can run 26.2 miles. After all, I had plans to go to the expo, meet other Bib Rave Pro ambassadors and spend the night in a hotel with my runner friends.

Not so much. Instead, I was diagnosed with a micro-tear in my right calf. A very minor injury — but only if I took a short break and allowed it to heal. Running the marathon, Dr. Awesome assured me, would mean a much-more-serious injury and longer recovery time.

I did the math and sat the race out. Sure, I’ve been injured before and have spent many a week wishing I were running. But this one was extra painful because I have been looking forward to running Detroit for so long. And I had plans, dang it!

In fact, it was my goal race for 2018 and my whole training plan revolved around it. I also got to train with Gatorade Endurance because that’s what was going to be available on course.

What’s a chica to do?

Suck it up, butter cup.

As with all other injuries, I went through the stages of grief and moved on. This time, I listened to the doc right away and did what was best for my body. (I also talked to my sports med doc at Dr. Awesome’s suggestion and he, too, agreed with the protocol: no running or walking; avoiding stairs and anything that makes my calf hurt in the least. If things don’t get better, I’ll have to wear a — gasp! — boot.)

After resting for a week, I’ve been riding the Peloton bike, which helps a bit with my stress levels, tho I am most-definitely noticing that I am more jacked up than normal and I’ve not slept well since I stopped running.

On race day, I made sure to keep myself super busy with chores, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my friends’ accomplishments on social media. So many did their first full or achieved personal records that day.

Now a few days later, I’m still mourning a bit. But I’m moving on. I start physical therapy on Monday and am considering swimming lessons once a week at a local gym to increase my cross-training and, possibly, doing a triathlon next year. Because I may be mourning not being able to run, but I’m also realizing that I’m going to have to take care of my body if I want to keep racking up those miles.

Have you had to forego a race because you got injured at the last minute? What did you do? What type of cross-training do you do? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)