Thursday, January 8, 2009

What runners need to know

It's easy enough for these two-wheel guys, but for a runner, getting started with Power Cranks is a little involved.

Technically our equipment high point are our shoes. But having decided that Power Cranks were the answer to
a) a need for more hamstring strength,
b) the quest for continuing improvement in my running economy and
c) the need to swap out at least one of my weekly runs for something low-impact, I found myself having to make three visits to the local bike shop.

The first decision you're going to be faced with is whether to stick PCs on your road or mountain bike (you do have a road or mountain bike somewhere in the garage, don't you?), or whether to fit 'em to an exercise bike.

I used to be a bike rider, but I really didn't fancy dealing with traffic, hills, corners and the like while trying to get to grips with cranks that just stay where you left them. I decided I had to get a stationary bike. Power Cranks make the choice easy, as it's obvious from the website that PCs are a great fit with a LeMond RevMaster. The old-style RevMaster Classic retails for more than 1000 bucks, but as LeMond Fitness isn't producing it any more (they are still supporting it), you can find them on ebay and Craig's List and the like for much, much less - like $600 or $700. So that's what I did.

Next step, you'll need to switch the cranks. And to do that, if you're not a cyclist with a garage full of specialist tools, that's where you'll run into your first problem. I'm an old fart, so I still remember when cranks had pins - cotter pins, that is - that you bashed out with a hammer. Although the last chainset I tangled with was Campagnolo, I'd forgotten that I'd need a special wrench. First trip to the bike shop.

The RevMaster comes with a very basic set of pedals, which suited me fine, as I was going to be wearing running shoes while Power-Cranking. Wrong! I found it impossible to get the toe-straps tight enough to let me Power Crank properly. So then I had the bright idea to simply swap the clipless pedals from my road bike to the RevMaster; then I would be able top use my Shimano cycling shoes and really drag those cranks round. No wrench would do the job. Second trip to the bike shop, for a specialist pedal wrench. Do take a rough measurement of the pedals before you buy the wrench, because they come in different sizes.

That done, I was nearly there... except the pedals on my road bike would not budge. After 30 minutes of struggling and WD40 attacks - third trip to the bike shop, where a friendly mechanic used a monster wrench to get them off in 10 seconds.

Am I set? Can I start now? Oh yes. Now all I have to deal with is the frustration of finding out just how hard it is to get these things moving.

* Simon Martin is an ex-pat Brit miler and 5k specialist living in Boulder, CO. He trains with Ric Rojas Running and has just been declared one of the Colorado Runners of the Year after winning the 55-59 age group division of the Colorado Runner magazine Racing Series 2008.

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