Thursday, September 6, 2007

Triathlon Challenges In A War Zone

The villa’s communication mast looking skyward in the morning light

Up at 5:30 this morning for a 6-mile hill workout on the treadmill. It’s the definition of boring; no TV, no iPod, no distractions, just the whir of the belt and the sound of foot strikes.

Working out in Baghdad has always been a challenge. It’s not like you can head out on a 10-mile run around the city or go biking on the outskirts of town. You have to be inventive with what you have available, which isn't much.

The villa has a tiny 15’x15’ pool, not much bigger than a hot tub. I have a tether that I can swim with that holds me in-place stroke after stroke. It’s sort of like the swimmer’s version of a treadmill. The problem is that the tethered belt around my waist dramatically changes my center of gravity and completely alters my technique. I’m not sure that I want to practice bad swimming technique, so I’ve resigned myself to using stretch cords anchored on my bedroom door.

Biking; forget it. I’m doing strength and muscular endurance work with weights and isometrics trying to keep my biking muscles in some semblance of condition. We have a stationary recumbent bike here, but it’s pretty beat on and not of much use. I’ve found that walking backwards on a heavily inclined treadmill will give the quads a pretty good endurance stressing. It looks funny, but seems to work.

The goal is to maintain condition until I can get back to Atlanta in five weeks and continue a normal training regime. My 10 year-old son is getting pretty fast, so I better keep to it.

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