Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
I think my daily commute has somewhat plateaued my fitness. I constantly average 28-30 kph each way and am ok with it, but at the same time I am feeling flat.
Every second week I have to work in a different location on a friday/monday and a group of us go for a ride at lunchtime. This is usually doing a hill climb. I have noticed on these hill climbs my fitness is not what it used to be, I am more buggered than I used to be. A mate I was beating up the hill is now beating me.
This is sort of frustrating. I am now wondering if my commuting is sending me backwards.
My legs are constantly sore, not a deep sore, but a "worked" type of feeling. I want to up my speed on certain sections but some days hold back due to the fact that I still have to commute for so many more days.
Anyone else experienced this and if so what have you done to change the situation.
Gretaboy I have been commuting for about 8 years and have experienced the same thing. The constant riding of the same distance with the same kit at the same speed makes it hard to do different paces or situations. I have never raced and only commute at about 23 km/h but even riding with my family at 15km/h which I love seems to wear me you more than my ride to work.
On the front of contantly sore - this happens to me as well. I have time off over Christmas / New year with little riding and recover. My best form (or speed) is usually March then it will very slowly go down hill till October: then up a little - December is just trying to survive. To combat this I now stretch morning and night, walk the dog (and take her to a dog park), take stairs as often as possible, and go swimming on Wednesday with my kids. This "Cross" training has helped the legs to fell less like lead weights in winter and keeps them going fo longer.
I think the key is to understand what you can and can't do (listen to our bodies) - and work slowly at improving performance where we can.
Not fast, no style, but still get there.
You need to vary your intensity on the commute. Some days go slow (recovery), some days go flat out. It also helps to do your weekend rides at a pace that is higher than your fast commute speed (if you do get out).
My typical week is:
mon - slow-mid
tues - mid-fast
wed - fast
thur - fast
fri - very slow (relaxed)
Sat - rest or slow
Sun - as fast as physically possible
As soon as i varied my commute speeds i saw improvement. Weather (and traffic in sydney) has a big part in speeds so i don't take notice of finishing times, just perceived intensity.
n=10 (2013 & 2004 roads,2010 track,2x 2009 foldups,1990 hybrid,1992 trainer,2007 rental,1970's step through,1980's zeus)
Due to a back injury I've cut down from 1200k per month to less than 500 this month which is just commutes. It's not pretty to watch my fitness in decline.
Having said that before I had this issue I was forming the opinion by watching my mates that my commuting was actually handicapping me. The problem is not enough rest. It is apparently common for people to go too hard on their rest days and no hard enough on their hard days.
So, I'd be watching my mates who don't commute getting faster than me. They might only ride 4 times a week, but they ride hard and long and then have good rest between sessions.
I've ridden to fatigue levels that mean you just can't go hard when you need to. Got to watch that.
I'm hoping to steal the wife's electric bike when it arrives for a commute or two a week.
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill.
Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day.
I guess my problem is I dont know how to "slow down"...it feels like I am going nowehere if I do. Plus given it takes me an hour and half each way roughly, its not like I can afford to slow down much more than I do, makes me get home too late
My commute is largely a long stretch broken up with a few breaks and and a few hills...if I drop a gear to raise my cadence it feels very unusual but something I should work on
I will pick a few points along my ride and will use the garmin to record my times, pick my days to give it all I have in those stretches
the downside of commuting/riding by yourself is having to push yourself, especially when the headwind is blowing hard
As others have said, you can't just go hard every day, you need some recovery time in there. If you only commute and don't do any rides on the weekend, then you could probably get away with riding hard for three mornings and have two mornings easy. For the easy days I find it helpful to stay in the small chainring as a reminder not to go hard
Giant Trance | Giant Reign 3 | Trek 8000 | Trek Madone 4.5 | Look 695 SR ipack | Fuji Track 1.1
I don't ride weekends as I cant justify getting out instead of doing the family time...which I am ok with
I might try the small chain ring for two days and see how that goes....
an average week for me is roughly 380 k's...360 commuting and 20 odd doing hill climbs, so its not like I am not doing the k's to get fit
It does seem to be a common problem... I find the same thing. I only commute & it's about 22 kms each way.. I also find some days I feel great, others the legs just don't have it...
I also find it difficult to go slow. I try & push myself most of the way.
I am going to try your suggestion Strawburger & mix in some recovery/easier days. Will see how that goes.
Good post Gretaboy.
Variation is important so your body (and mind) don't get used to doing the same thing all the time.
For the days where you need to go slow perhaps something you could try is to pick a comfortable/suitable speed that will get you home at a decent time but adjust your cadence and gearing to vary your ride home.
Pick an easier gear for a while and spin, trying to maintain that set speed....which will work your cardio more and ease up on the legs, then after a while select a harder gear and set your cadence accordingly to keep that same speed, then change to a harder gear again and grind those legs (trying to keep the same speed), then jump back to the easy gears and spin fast again.
This should get you back to concentrating on your riding again and will vary your ride and effort. Also pick your days by how you feel. If you feel good, use that as a chance to go harder and if you feel flat, take it easy.
Also, doing that many km's per week you are hopefully taking in plenty of nutritous food to keep your energy levels high, to support that much physical exercise. That much riding needs alot of energy and alot of good rest/sleep, for recovery.
2012 Felt F75 | 105 | ProLite Braccianos | GP4000S
Feeling flat? Tired? I am not a great one for supplements but I suggest that you could try some iron supplements and see if it helps. Some can give you mild constipation though.
Unchain yourself-Ride a unicycle
Perhaps these might help....we should all know this little ad from watching the recent TdF....
I think I have that soundtrack engrained in my head forever now.....damned TV commercials!
2012 Felt F75 | 105 | ProLite Braccianos | GP4000S
Well I tried taking it easy yesterday riding home, didnt push myself just made it enjoyable so to speak
This morning I rode on the smaller front ring only all the way. Was certainly different feeling, but more importantly the legs didnt feel worked like normal. It added nearly ten minutes to the ride overall which I will have to take into consideration in the future.
Am going to split my week into 2 hard days and 2 light days for a while, see what it does for me. I will also try the set speed suggestion by DD to change things up. I guess that is half my problem, riding by myself I have gotten into a pattern and that pattern is now starting to affect my riding in a negative way.
My food intake is such that people at work laugh at how much I eat
I agree - stupid soundtrack has been playing through my head for too long already!Oddly compelling add though
Damn strava makes me ride too hard. Often I'll set out with a goal of taking it easy... 'tiI I get to a segment I have my eye on. Then it's all guns blazing and heat pack on the legs that night sorely walking about.
I'm my own worst enemy.
Took me a while to get back to it but hitting the gym three times a week on top of riding 19 km each way mon to fri. I have also started a couch to 5km app on iPhone so running 30 mins ish 3 times a week. I feel since I started running my riding an fitness have improved. I am a fan of varying activity to work your body in multiple ways.
Oh not sure if relevant but gym is
Mon - squats - bench - barbell row
Weds - squats - deadlift - shoulder press
Accessory Lats and core
Fri -squats - bench - barbell row
Accessory biceps triceps
Most sets follow a 12,10,8 pattern
Your single aren't you or got no dependants lol...that much time away from family and I know I would be single
With regards to food & nutrients... I often find I get cramp in my 2nd & 3rd toe of my left foot only... Not all the time, but fairly often & only on my ride home.
It happened when I just wore normal shoes & flat pedals & happens now I have cleats..
Usually only after the ride home, but last night it struck with a few kms to go... not happy & a little painful..
I wouldn't think it from over cycling as the trip home last night was only my 2nd ride of the week. Rode to work Monday, daughter committment Monday night, so rode home last night...
So I guess I am lacking in something. Any suggestions & why is it always the same place... Is that a little weird?
It's important to remember that when you train, you actually make yourself less fit. No, that is not a typo.
Effective training is about the training + recovery couplet, aka supercompensation.
If you train too hard or schedule your next hard session too early (or both) you can actually start from a lower fitness base at the next sesssion and get yourself into a bad downward spiral that results in you being "overtrained". Having been there and been rescued by advice from this very forum, it is not a pleasant place to be.
Like others here, I've found less is more. Go hard when I'm on training rides. Go easy (VERY easy) on recovery rides. Allow adequate recovery. Then, find yourself going ever faster.
I also take a recovery week every 3 (every 4 for the under-40s) per advice from Joe Friel's Cyclist Training Bible.
Putting these two things together has gotten me off the fitness plateau, improved my performance at work and home, and gotten me off the train to Burnout Station.
I strongly recommend every cyclist shoudl do some basic reading on the concept of periodization in training.
I'm in pretty much the same boat at the moment as well.
My typical commute is anywhere between 30-40KM (each way), and doing that 5 days a week definitely starts to add up after a while.
There's some good advice in this thread though, so I'm going to give some of that a shot and see if it helps things at all.
lol nope wife three kids 7,4,1 . I get home around 6 ish each nite gym is around 8 ish once all kids in bed. Takes about an hour. The run is three other nights or sometimes mornings when I can fit it in and only takes 30 ish minutes. I just do it instead of watching television or like I used to playing online games
An update on this...I know it is a bit to soon but anyway...
Tuesday afternoon I tried taking it easy on the ride home. Yesterday morning I took things even easier as I stayed in the small front ring and boy did it feel strange. However, due to a commitment last night I had to really push hard to get home, left work later than I wanted to.
I worked hard the entire way, up all the hills and on the flats. It hurt and I was blowing hard by the time I got home. Funny thing was that by the time I got to bed my legs didnt feel all that bad. This morning was the same. Normally with what I have been doing my legs feel somewhat sore everyday and I expected after yesterdays effort my legs would be hurting real bad.
So I pushed hard again this morning and again it hurt. This afternoon I am going to give it 75% effort and then take it easy on both rides Friday.
I averaged 31.6 on yesterdays ride home and 32.1 for this mornings ride. These are the best averages I have done in a long time.
I have realised from what other posters have said is that my problem is/was the fact that I had allowed myself to get in a rut with what I was doing and my body got used to it. I will now make an effort to change things up on a regular basis.
My typical "base period" schedule :
For "on" weeks:
Monday: 30 minutes lower back/glutes/pelvic stability exercises. No riding.
Tuesday: 90-120 minutes with low-cadence (60rpm) hill repeats on way to work, 1 hour hilly back-roads ride home
Wednesday: 30 minutes stability exercises. Either no ride, or very easy ride to and from work
Thursday: 90-120 minutes ride to work with hill repeats at high cadence (100rpm). Easy ride home.
Friday: 30 minutes stability exercises. No riding.
Saturday: Maximum of 60 minutes on the bike, practicing technical skills and a few "slow races" with my son where the last man to put a foot down is the winner.
Sunday: 2.5 - 4 hour training ride off road (shifting to the longer end of the range as I progress), usually off-road and involving mostly medium difficulty technical riding, with a majority of time at 85% threshhold or higher and including hill repeats.
As I get closer to events and move from base through build phases, some of the low cadence stuff gets swapped out for climbing sprints, the intensity goes up and the time either stays steady or even drops slightly to keep the volume from getting to the point where recovery before the next session becomes a problem.
On "off" weeks (usually every third week):
Monday: 30 minutes lower back/glutes/pelvic stability exercises. No riding.
Tuesday: 30 minutes lower back/glutes/pelvic stability exercises if not riding. Otherwise, easy pace 1hr rides to work and back
Wednesday: 30 minutes lower back/glutes/pelvic stability exercises and no riding if rode Tuesday. Otherwise, easy 1hr rides to work and back
Thursday: 30 minutes lower back/glutes/pelvic stability exercises. No riding.
Friday: 30 minutes lower back/glutes/pelvic stability exercises. No riding.
Saturday: Either no riding or short tech skills session
Sunday: 2.5 - 4 hour social pace ride ride off road (usually involves lots of stops for chit-chat, admiring the views, and to allow slower riders to catch up and recover)
The above is based on a 12-16 week 100km mtb race training schedule by Mark Fenner published mid-2010 in Australian Mountain Bike.
The rationale behind it is that the main training ride is the long weekend ride, with the midweek commutes being maintenance. From experience, the Sunday morning ride needs to be a minimum of 2,5 hours at training/race pace to push an improvement for me.
After the recovery week I inevitably see a noticeable lift in speed on the bike at the start of the next "on" week.
The human body has an amazing capacity to endure all sorts of stress, and adapt itself to these stresses (providing we don't actually 'break' our body in the process).
Fitness is generally about pushing your body past it's normal limits, then allowing your body to repair itself stronger.
However, if you don't have rest periods, your body doesn't have adequate time to repair itself.
I also think 'fitness' is a long-term concept, and you should be planning where you want to be in 5 years time - not about next week or next month. If you think about it in this way, you should be able to incorporate a couple of rest or easy days each week, and even a week or more, if you feel your body needs a break.
I've competed in a few IronMan events, where I've done training rides 6 days a week, as well as running and swimming, but I found I was always tired and my performance dropped off, even though I was training harder. Not only was I continually tired, my diet wasn't great because I was always craving sugar and sweet foods.
Mixing up my exercise works for me these days. I generally ride 2 or 3 times mid-week (about 30kms) and a long ride on Sundays with mates. On the other days I might do a short run (3 - 5 kms) or even an hour-long walk with the dog.
Giant TCR 0
Nobody looks back on their life....and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep !!
I'm glad I came across this thread. I have also bee noticing a stagnation (or regression even) of my average speeds and over all times. I do mix up my commuting with gym/cardio work and the occasional run, but I pretty much never vary my riding pace/intensity.
I'll definitely be giving some of these ideas a crack.
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