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Getting My Legs Back – Slowly

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August 2012
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This summer held a lot of firsts for me as far as fitness goes.  More cycling that a fella can shake a stick at, longer rides than I’d ever thought I’d bother with and generally more fun that a guy could hope to have with clothes on.  With all of those firsts, comes a learning curve.  Rather than a systemic approach, I’ve tried to ook at things through more of a “fun” filter than as as some kind of race preparedness drill.  One problem that I’ve bumped my head on several times is that I have fun riding fast, but often.  I’ve had to deal with a constant struggle between taking time off or trying to dial it back with recovery rides, but the reduced speed “recovery” part usually goes out the window shortly after I start turning the pedals.  I hate taking nice days off.  On the other hand, taking a day off now and again helps my legs to heal up a bit which makes me faster.  It often ends up being a constant struggle waiting for a rain day so I can get a little rest.  A few weeks ago after my first century, I was beat down after that one so much that even though I may not have wanted to, I took the next day off and then commenced with the recovery rides.  I also did a better job of tapering before the event than this time around, but that was by design as well…

What I’m trying to figure out, is what is the best way for me to come back after a really long ride.  What I am hoping for is some kind best plan to attack the long rides…  It works best if I do this before the ride, and then follow it up with that…

So far, the taper before the event was very necessary, to an extent.  While I didn’t have to bother with days off, cutting my mileage back and going easy did help.  I rode 30 miles the day before the Assenmacher 100, the last 18 at better than 19 mph, and I could feel it, ever so slightly, on the big day.  For the Tour des Lacs, I took it much easier beforehand and followed that with my best 1 hour, 30 mile and 50 mile times of the year.  The characteristics for the Assenmacher 100 were different but I coulld tell I was just a little off.

Also, the day off after the Tour des Lacs may have helped, but only marginally in recovering from the ride quicker physically – I felt better.  I did not, however, perform better.  Looking back at the three rides following the day off, all 16 mile rides with minimal wind, the times were between 51 and 52 minutes.  With no time off, and after three 16 mile rides, the times were 55, 52 and 50 minutes respectively, all with a decent wind (5-10 mph).  Yesterday’s 16 is the important one…  I absolutely had to work harder than usual to hit and maintain my speed, but I did the first 11 miles at better than 20 mph – most of those were at 21-24 mph.  After the 11 miles, I was feeling tired, but not necessarily in a bad way, so I took it a little easier for the last five miles.

In short, at least for right now, days off aren’t quite as important as I thought they’d be, however there is definitely a point, after about ten to twelve days in a row at best, where I just have to take some time off.  Looking at this objectively, while I am able to get out and ride a lot if I were to follow everything I’ve read on the subject, my speed and performance would increase faster with a couple of days off each week – but where’s the fun in that?

It is nice to have this problem.

UPDATE  Elisariva offered this in the comments:  “…Most important thing to do you did – listen to your body. I am learning more and more that there is no one way to do it – rest, taper, recover – your body will tell you. In stead of a rest day scheduled, I listen to my body. It yells when it is time to rest.

She’s got a fantastic point.


5 Comments

  1. CultFit says:

    Do you have an indoor trainer/roller? How has your diet/fluid intake been before and after your rides? Have you noticed a big shift in cadence after your longer rides? Apologies for all the questions!

    • bgddyjim says:

      No apologies necessary… They’re really good questions. Rather than post the answers as a reply though, I wrote your questions up (and their answers) as a new post. Thanks.

  2. fitnessclyde says:

    It is NICE to have this problem!

  3. elisariva says:

    Like that your answers to questions created another post! Most important thing to do you did – listen to your body. I am learning more and more that there is no one way to do it – rest, taper, recover – your body will tell you. In stead of a rest day scheduled, I listen to my body. It yells when it is time to rest.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Great point… If I could just get beyond “SHUT UP LEGS!!!” and listen to it… That’s my new favorite saying by the way… I was watching the cycling championships in Colorado and they were talking about Jens Voigt. It’s hilarious.

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