My basic question was...are short rides of 9-12 miles (or runs of 3 miles) long enough to bring improved fitness and weight loss? Those distances seem so minimal, compared to typical mileage amounts for endurance athletes. As I type it again, I realize it was a pretty stupid question. The answer is "of course...any exercise is good".
A co-worker and I met up yesterday afternoon. He is a field tech for our company, doing physical labor everyday, and he told me he is concerned about his high blood pressure. The doctor is giving him pills. I said "do you exercise?" He said "no, but I won't have to now, because I'll have the pills."
He went to say how fit and healthy I look (I've never had high blood pressure and we are the same age). I was surprised because I still feel so heavy. But he could tell that I am different now. He had heard about my cycling and asked what else I am doing. I mentioned that I am running as well. He said he "could never do that".
As I drove away, I realized that he was right about the changes I have made in the past year or two. My progress has been slow, but it has been steady. I am becoming an athlete for the first time in my life.
I have never been an athlete...not in high school, college, etc. I don't have a burning competitiveness toward sports and that is fine with me. I started this cycling (and running) thing just to develop some new habits...to improve my quality of life and prevent the illnesses that accompany that middle-age, sedentary, high-calorie lifestyle.
But I do like to defy expectations. Throughout my life, I have taken on challenges (work, hobbies, skill sets, etc.) that others around me wouldn't dare try to do.
This Clydesdale Project of mine defies some expectations, at least my expectations for myself.
Because among the people that I work with, and my customers, and many of my friends (most in their mid-40's),
- very few of them have run over 100 miles in the past few months.
- very few of them have ridden their bikes over 1,500 miles in the past 18 months.
- very few do cardio workouts 5-6 days per week.
My pace is improving.
My monthly miles are increasing.
The fact that I am still exercising multiple times a week, month after month, is life-changing.
I will take breaks. I will have setbacks. I will likely be a middle-of-the-pack racer.
But I am defying expectations and I won't quit.