Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rowing Into the New Year

It's been more than three weeks since I've been able to get out and ride. One snowstorm after another has left little room for a bike to safely navigate any of the highway shoulders near here. We'll get a bit of melting during the day but very cold temps at night leaves behind glare ice which keeps me confined to my basement and my rollers. I'm just grateful to do any sort of riding.

I'm a pretty one dimensional person these days when it comes to working out. I ride. I owned a Soloflex for years and for several winters in the mid 90's I'd attempt to get into a routine with it but those plans always fizzled after a couple months each time I'd try.

Mike Corte from work finally took the Soloflex off my hands 6-7 years ago for what I felt was a good deal for both of us. I know that Tammy was glad to see the space freed up in our den.

I was a runner for most of the 80's and into the 90's and I loved it; it's still my favorite activity to do if only I could. There's nothing like the feeling of being running fit and floating along the road barely noticing the contact your feet make with the ground, clicking off mile after mile. But it's hard on knees.

I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee in the spring of 1992 to clean up some torn cartilage from when I'd injured it in 1975 in addition to thousands of miles of running. The surgery was performed by Dr. Richard Schmidt. I don't think I could've asked for a better surgeon as he was the same man who operated on Dick Beardsley in 1989 after he'd mangled and nearly lost one of his legs in a power takeoff unit on his farm.

Dr. Schmidt told me I could continue running but that I should do less miles and with less intensity or I'd risk going into my later years with arthritic knees. The surgery went well and I was running pain free afterwards but it just wasn't the same. The temptation to run further and faster was too great and I had to stop for my own good. That's when I rediscovered my bike.

I enjoy the time I spend in the saddle but for quite a while I've wanted to do something for my upper body as well. Cycling does absolutely nothing for that. In fact, most professional riders are careful not to do anything to add weight to their upper bodies as those pounds (even if they're muscle) only serve to slow them down in the course of a race, especially on the climbs. I think I can afford to take on a few pounds of muscle.

I've listened to Rick and Bryan at work remark about their Concept 2 rowing machines and how much they enjoy using them. Rick is always so pumped up whenever he talks about his workouts. I suppose it's a lot like me talking about one of my rides. They've both been steadily knocking out the meters on them for the past few years. Between Rick and Bryan's excitement and my need for an upper body workout my interest in rowing as an addition to my cycling had been piqued.

Last week I was perusing one of the cycling forums I frequent and there was a thread in there about a Concept 2 rowing challenge. The guys on the forum were putting together a team to compete against other teams around the world. How cool. I read a bit more and found that several forumites are rowers. This could be for me.

I visited the Concept 2 site as well as their forum and founds lots of information. One of the reasons for considering rowing is to give my knees a break from the stress of cycling. After doing some research I found enough complaints from people about stress on their knees that I began to have second thoughts. Rick told me that he feels very little stress on his knees as did some other people I messaged with. The best way to know would be to actually get on-board one and give it a try.

Rick invited me out to his house Sunday morning so I could see and feel for myself how the machine worked. I could tell within just a couple minutes that this was going to be a good workout and I was sold on the idea of buying one. I was also relieved that the stress on my knees was considerably less than I imagined it would be. In addition to being less stressful to my knees than cycling, rowing is also done at a much lower number of reps than cycling. My average cadence on the bike is around 90 rpm. An average number of reps for rowing is in the low to mid 20's. Considering also that the time spent on a rower during a workout (usually less than an hour) vs a how long a typical ride of mine is (usually 2-5 hours) I think this will be some good cross-training for me.

My order has been placed.

1 comment:

carlb said...

I posted replys to you in the C2 forum. While I am recovering from golfers elbow also, and waiting for spring to arrive so I can bike, .... my wife wanted a treadmill so we got one. I am really surprised how much I am liking it. It has been 15 years since I last ran. I also had arthro knee surgery, torn it cartilage skiing. I find the treadmill much more comfortable then running outside. I got a True Z5.0 with an ortho belt, it has the smallest footprint. If I had it to do over I would have spent more time looking into the Landice, it seems to have much better software and programs. The C2 is hands down the best deal in fitness. Good luck with your injury.