In the weeks leading up to my 10k I had pretty much given up doing any activity that might make me too sore to run. Long walks in bad shoes? Avoided. Yoga? Not the time to start. Biking? Ouch, my legs!
Biking was what I really missed, because I really love biking to work, but biking uses different muscles than running, and I noticed my legs starting to be sore, and my back and shoulders were also bothering me. Now that the 10k is over, and I have a little bit of time to recover before my Half training really picks up, I figured now was the time to get back into those activities that I love, without the paranoia of missing a long run because of them. (Although, I am trying to give up long walks in bad shoes in general, but I am having a really hard time finding comfortable, supportive sandals, that don’t destroy my feet in the break-in process. Any suggestions?)
Biking to work has revolutionized my commute. It takes about half the time of taking the trains/busses I need to take to get to the remote area of Boston’s South End where I work, and I don’t have to deal with my pre-7am-frustrations with the population of Boston’s public transportation on an intimate (like standing in someone else’s armpit) level. I get to leave my house 10 minutes later, I wake up in the most wonderful way, and as soon as I leave work I get to be active– as opposed to trekking home 45 minutes and then plopping on the couch, exhausted.
While a lot of people commute much too far to bike, about half of Americans live within 5 miles of their workplace. There are so many benefits to biking to work, fitness and managing stress levels are just two of them. Here’s some more:
1. Save the planet. For every 1 mile pedaled, approximately 1 pound of CO2 is saved. With the planet in trouble, it’s important we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. Every fewer car on the street benefits air quality, and conservation of our resources. Did you know traffic congestion wastes nearly 3 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S.!
2. It’s less expensive! For me, I don’t have a car at all, but for those of you that do, biking saves so much money on gas and repairs (not to mention $5 at the drive-thru you might hit if you’re in a car). After the initial investment of actually purchasing a bike (they vary from $100-thousands, so pick what works best for your needs!), it’s smooth sailing with check-ups and minor fixes that won’t dent your wallet too much.
3. Accidental calorie-burn. Honestly, biking to work shouldn’t replace your cardio schedule altogether, especially if your ride to work is under 4 miles, like mine. But, adding the commute could help you lose up to 13 pounds a year, and that’s if you make absolutely no other changes to your diet and exercise routines.
Now, if you’re just starting out, I would suggest making an attainable goal. Don’t set out saying you’re going to bike to work every single day, because that’s probably not necessary. I bike once or twice a week, and that seems to work out really well. Start with a couple times, and work your way up if you are really enjoying it. When you first start biking you will be sore, your body just isn’t used to the motion, but after a couple rides, you’ll be fine and at your destination in half the time (assuming you live in a small, congested city just like me)!