Cycling is one of my new passions. I bought a bike not long ago and the freedom and exhilaration you get from riding are unparalleled. However, the tendency is to just jump on the bike and go. I could get away with that when I was younger, but now I must prepare before I get into any strenuous activity, especially if it’s competitive.
When you compete you always push yourself harder. And, if you’re like me, you sometimes become a little aggressive to win and never lose. That can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not physically prepared for it.
A few months ago I got too aggressive with my running routine to prepare for a 10K race. Consequently, I pulled my hamstring and calf muscles and I was unable to compete in the race. Had I been preparing properly by doing certain leg exercises—in particular leg curls, squats and stretching—I would have been good to go at race time. Every sport has specific body parts that must be targeted, outside of participating in that particular sport. If you understand which muscles, tendons and joints will be under pressure, you can prepare them properly before engaging in the sport.
Now that I’m into cycling I’ve learned my lesson and I’m preparing in the gym before I get on the bike. At this stage of the game and at age 59, I must always be mindful that the main purpose of exercise is injury prevention. As you get older and you get aches and pains—and sometimes injuries—you don’t bounce back like you used to. That said, put yourself in a winning position with preparation on purpose to reduce the odds of injury. Keep in mind that when you get hurt you may not be able to do anything, except sit on the couch and watch television.
Something tells me that’s not the answer you’re looking for. Cross-train to get prepared and be ready for action!