This year, April really is the cruelest month. The weather is great, early flowers are out, trees are budding, but I can’t ride. It hurts to see other people on their bikes while I am confined to a car. I am missing the unfolding of spring in the East Tennessee countryside.
It has been a little over 6 weeks since surgery, and according to my doctors, my sternum is not yet healed enough to trust with the vibrations, potholes, and other vicissitudes of riding. I am not supposed to lift anything over about 10 lbs (though I have fudged on this a bit) or ride until eight weeks have elapsed. I am counting the days and trying to satisfy myself with walks up the greenway toward Ijams. (And BTW, I think this greenway, along with most in Knoxville, really suck for bike riding, but that is fodder for another post.)
I can see a lot of progress in my recovery. I started putting in some time at work, about two hours a day, three weeks ago and my hours have gradually increased; next week, I should be back to full time. My energy level varies day to day. On good days, I am pretty much back to normal, though I have not put two good days together yet. On the not-so-good days, my energy level is low and I tire quickly (it is quite possible that the not-so-good days have something to do with overdoing on the good days).
I am trying to walk on a regular basis to aid my recovery and with the goal of starting to build back up to reasonable condition. I started training before the existence of heart rate monitors and watt meters, so I know my body’s responses to exercise through experience. Because of this, and because I am basically a Luddite, I have stuck with the level-of-effort approach to training. However, since the valve replacement, the old cues don’t work and I can’t figure out what is going on with my body, so I bought my first heart rate monitor.
I don’t expect to use it long, so I bought a cheap one, a $50 Timex ordered from my local bike shop. The unit consists of a wrist watch that looks like it might have come out of a gumball machine for a quarter, along with the sensor that wraps around the chest. Though it looks and feels really cheap, it is actually reasonably comfortable. The features are limited compared to the more expensive ones, but that is all I need, and so far, it has performed admirably. My morning walk today lasted a little more than an hour. I kept my pulse under 140, and averaged about 110.