In my [still] short time being a bike commuter I have been able to notice some significant bodily adaptations, especially with regards to aerobic fitness. During the first weeks/month or two, I was relatively in tune with the what was happening. Even going from a competitive triathlete’s training schedule to biking a [seemingly] mere 17 miles each day produced some significant changes in body composition and metabolic rate. For the first month of daily bike commuting [the ‘August project’] I would wake up with a slight sore-ness throughout my legs, which eventually faded as my legs became used to the constant stress. One of the nice results of this was an exciting amount of increased definition in my leg muscles, particularly my calves muscles. My metabolism seemed to bump up a little – but nothing too exceptional (I was coming off the end of a 6-day a week triathlon training schedule…).
The human body never ceases to amaze me how it can adapt, or even how it functions in general.
Now into my fourth straight month of bike commuting, I am noticing more physical adaptation – but it is different this time. My body has finally realized that it is not being trained for competition. The power of muscular function is being reduced to allow for the extra endurance that is being expected. I tried including some sprints into my ride home yesterday, but I felt sluggish and not as explosive as I used to.
But my running performance has seemed to increase. Since I began bike commuting, the miles I have logged with my running shoes has decreased by nearly 60-70% – YET last night I was able to run a 5k faster than I would when I was training for triathlons, and with an easier effort. A week ago, I went for a run – having not gone running for at least 2 weeks – and was able to maintain a very good pace with no discomfort.
It seems my metabolism has normalized as well, much as my muscles have. My body seems to have become a very efficient calorie burning machine and is able to maintain the functionality that I demand on a lesser diet. This part is actually sad to me in a way, because it means that whenever I eat more than I legitimately need to, I can tell.
While I have been in tune with how my body has responded to the stress I place on it as a bike commuter, I had a ‘duh’ moment today: my body no longer responds and requires the nourishment it did when I was a “competitive athlete.” Bike commuting continues to be a learning experience for me, and I think I have finally shed the mentality that I am training to be a competitive athlete. I will [hopefully] always continue to participate in recreational competitions because I love the experience of being at races: I love the excitement and anticipation, I love the physical challenge of the race itself, and I love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. The beauty of my situation now is that I am able to maintain a solid and above-average level of fitness without having to spend any time in a weight room or on a treadmill.
That’s right, the Velorution made me a better runner!