It was cold and very wet today. Sweetie was not feeling well enough to go to the gym with me, but she urged me to go anyway. I almost didn't, but she persisted. So I suited up in my rain gear, and rode a soggy loop from home to the grocery store to the gym, and then home again.
I've been using a program offered by our gym called ActivTrax to help guide my workouts.
Basically, you create an account online, schedule a supervised workout with the trainer and measure your starting level of fitness. He enters the info from this first workout into your account, and then you determine what your fitness goals are (my goal is to get stronger, period; I'm not worrying about my "physique" as much at this point in my life). In the end, you're given a workout based on all this info and every time you finish a workout, you enter your actual results (number of reps, pounds lifted, etc.) into your account. The next time you come to the gym, you request your next workout, which is based on all the previous workouts you've completed.
My new team has no coach, and I can't afford a personal trainer (the gym has one on-site who's available by appointment but at 50 bucks an hour he's way too rich for my blood). The ActivTrax program isn't perfect, but it's highly methodical and allows me to keep track of my progress. The program also requires you to be enough of a self-starter to actually show up and do it regularly, which I try to do twice a week. Alternating with my twice-weekly yoga sessions and my daily bike commuting, I'm not going to set the world on fire come racing season but I'm hopeful that I won't completely collapse before I finish my final lap, either.
One nice thing that I've noticed: today my abs exercises still hurt, still were sort of hard, but I could do them all. And the pain wasn't horrible, just a sort of "ooh, I've worked out" sort of pain. It was okay. And recognizing that was really okay. If all this working out now helps me get my bike over the barriers with just a little less pain and strain next fall, I'll have gotten my money's worth.