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Old 03-26-14, 11:48 PM   #1
MinnMan
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The road back - I wonder how long it's going to take.....

After a very long layoff, I'm back to regular riding (well, so far, chiefly on the trainer, it's still winter in Minnesota). It feels so good to be getting real exercise, but so daunting to think how long it's going to take go get my strength back.

Brief history: I started riding for real in 2009 at age 48. 1500 miles in 2009, 4500 miles in 2010, 7000 miles in 2011. Yeah, too much too fast, but I was loving it- I was and again want to be a serious club rider, putting in 200 miles/week in the warm season, riding as fast and as hard as my body will let me. It's my bliss.

But I was out for the first 6 months of 2012 learning to deal with the onset of minor osteoarthritis in my hips. In the second half of 2012, I rode 3500 miles and toward the end of the road season, was back in good form. I rode all winter in 2012-2013 - slow base miles on studded tires, but riding just the same, but in the early spring last year, screwed up a tendon behind my knee and it took me 10 months, a pack of doctors, MRIs, cortisone (to no effect), and physio to get me (mostly) back.

But I had 10 months with very little riding or cardio. I was cleared to go back to it in January and I did elliptical training for about a month, I've been on the trainer and/or doing short outdoor rides on warmer days for about 6 weeks.

All good, right? Well yeah, but wow, I've lost so much cardio fitness and so much strength in my legs. I have good form - I can spin at high cadence, but at the moment a 20 mile ride at 14 MPH is about all I can muster -not so long ago I wouldn't have even considered that a real ride, even on a winter bike.

I know it will come, slowly, but it's clear it's going to take months - jeez, it's going to take all year - to get back to close to where I was. And that's if I avoid injury....

Yeah, I know I need to be patient. I know I need to think about tons of base miles and lowered expectations. Just being out riding makes me a happy man, believe me, I don't have to hammer any time soon. The last thing i need is to get injured again.

I'm not asking for advice and I certainly don't need to be told to "just enjoy the ride". I'm just venting.

Thanks for listening.
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Old 03-27-14, 03:52 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
After a very long layoff, I'm back to regular riding (well, so far, chiefly on the trainer, it's still winter in Minnesota). It feels so good to be getting real exercise, but so daunting to think how long it's going to take go get my strength back…

But I had 10 months with very little riding or cardio. I was cleared to go back to it in January and I did elliptical training for about a month, I've been on the trainer and/or doing short outdoor rides on warmer days for about 6 weeks.

All good, right? Well yeah, but wow, I've lost so much cardio fitness and so much strength in my legs. I have good form - I can spin at high cadence, but at the moment a 20 mile ride at 14 MPH is about all I can muster -not so long ago I wouldn't have even considered that a real ride, even on a winter bike.

I know it will come, slowly, but it's clear it's going to take months - jeez, it's going to take all year - to get back to close to where I was. And that's if I avoid injury....

Yeah, I know I need to be patient. I know I need to think about tons of base miles and lowered expectations. Just being out riding makes me a happy man, believe me, I don't have to hammer any time soon. The last thing i need is to get injured again.

I'm not asking for advice and I certainly don't need to be told to "just enjoy the ride". I'm just venting.

Thanks for listening.
I was off for five months due to a cycling accident, in June through October in 2012, one of the best-weather riding seasons we've had, and well on my way to a 5000-mile year. I was melancholic during my tedious, slow three-block rehab walks, and uncertain about riding again, but it did happen. I’m fortunate to have an excellent year-round 14 mile one-way commute to work and for me that's much more motivating and expeditious for training than indoor cycling.

I started with a two mile ride on a heavy step-through cycle; then an abbreviated four mile ride to work with the rest via Commuter Rail; and by December I was doing the 14 mile route. By the next summer I was doing my long-distance training rides up to about 80 miles. I have always been more a mileage junkie than a speed demon. I did resume my usual riding pace, but on a much better bicycle, which may have compensated for any residual deficits.

I'm certainly grateful because things could have been much worse, and the cycling lifestyle is surely more precious to me now, than ever before.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 03-27-14 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 03-27-14, 04:25 AM   #3
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Curious - how did you screw up the tendon?
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Old 03-27-14, 04:32 AM   #4
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Be patient. I laid off for eleven years and it's like starting from scratch. As for myself I'm working second shift and don't really have the good opportunities to ride during the week like I did when I built my base up in my late 20s - early 30s. I spend too much time winding down after work to just get up early and hit it like a 30 year old.

So I do about 20 to 30 miles on Wednesdays and 60 to 80 on one day during the weekend along with yard and house work the other weekend day. My goal is to do a sub 6 hour century but I'm not going to beat myself up at it trying to do it even in two summers. It takes the fun out of it for me to stress that much and I do know by experience my over-doing-it limits by feel. If I can do one under 6 hours this fall I'll be elated......If not I'll shoot for it next year.

I know 100 miles per week isn't the best way to go about it but I'm not in a hurry and I am progressing some. If I make it fine. If I don't I'm still getting some quality recreation time out of it.

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Old 03-27-14, 05:13 AM   #5
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I think there's a lot of walking wounded on this forum. One of the reasons I like it here is because people are free to vent without too much snarking.

I came across Ps 27 this morning. If you're religious, read the last verse. Maybe it will help.
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Old 03-27-14, 05:25 AM   #6
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Good to hear you are doing better, now, don't get the urge to push or rush your regaining the fitness, though. If you will let things progress steadily it will probably benefit you in the long run much more. Setbacks and relapses always seem worse than the original injury or illness for me, build up carefully so you don't face a period of inactivity from an injury. You are riding in some manner and regaining that fitness you crave, let that keep you motivated and stay positive.

Dudelsack's verse is a good one to open the day with, if that isn't your cup of tea, that is fine, too, just keep your mindset positive about making progress and what you accomplish. The 50+ Forum, but for its few faults, is pretty supportive, it has been a blessing to me in my return and recovery, use this place for what it offers you.

Best of luck with your continued rebuilding and a total return to the level you want. And, 100 miles a week isn't anything to laugh at, it is my current level and it feels pretty good compared to when I was struggling to make 2 miles each day, very slowly.

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Old 03-27-14, 06:10 AM   #7
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I think there's a lot of walking wounded on this forum. One of the reasons I like it here is because people are free to vent without too much snarking.

I came across Ps 27 this morning. If you're religious, read the last verse. Maybe it will help.
Nice, appropriate:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Psalm 27, King James Version
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ...

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. ...Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
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Old 03-27-14, 06:31 AM   #8
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On your journey back smell the roses a bit. In a winter climate it's got to be very tempting to hit things hard at the first sign of spring; resist that temptation. If your goal is to reach your previous peaks of fitness and mileage, make sure some of that near-200 miles/week is longer and slower; give your body a beak between those hard rides.
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Old 03-27-14, 06:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
I think there's a lot of walking wounded on this forum. One of the reasons I like it here is because people are free to vent without too much snarking.

I came across Ps 27 this morning. If you're religious, read the last verse. Maybe it will help.
Good point.

OP, along the same lines, I find Isaiah 40:31 to be very inspiring.

I am just coming back from a four-stent angioplasty and whenever I feel my strength failing me, I go back to Isaiah 40:31...it helps.

Venting is good.
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Old 03-27-14, 06:47 AM   #10
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Seems we're always recovering or coming back from something. Good thing life is a journey and not a destination.
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Old 03-27-14, 06:51 AM   #11
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I came across Ps 27 this morning. If you're religious, read the last verse. Maybe it will help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eja_ bottecchia View Post
Good point.

OP, along the same lines, I find Isaiah 40:31 to be very inspiring

Venting is good.
Gentle vent: If you cite a passage, why not give the quote?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaiah 40:31, King James Version
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
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Old 03-27-14, 07:35 AM   #12
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Gentle vent: If you cite a passage, why not give the quote?
Because sure as we're reading this, some crank is going to complain to the mods and demand that the entire thread be moved to P&R.

That's why I don't quote passages. If people want to check them out, then good on them.
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Old 03-27-14, 07:45 AM   #13
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Curious - how did you screw up the tendon?
It was/is the popliteus tendon, which starts behind the knee and reaches down to the calf. The initial injury was on a ride last March. I went down to Houston for business and rode a rented bike with a friend who is a complete hammerhead. Trying to keep up with him on a bike that probably didn't fit perfectly may have been a mistake. But there were other factors, of course. I didn't have a rented car in Houston and so I was doing A LOT of walking and so the night before the ride I had had strange cramps in my calf. And the initial injury seemed to heal up after a couple of days rest, but then came back with a vengeance soon after.
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Old 03-27-14, 07:47 AM   #14
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Thanks for all of your kind comments and encouragement. It is true that many of us deal with injuries or other things that keep us off the bike. For me, it is not an easy way to learn how important cycling is to my day-to-day happiness.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:04 AM   #15
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Because sure as we're reading this, some crank is going to complain to the mods and demand that the entire thread be moved to P&R.

That's why I don't quote passages. If people want to check them out, then good on them.
My reason as well.

Plus I view it as an educational opportunity of sorts.

If I quote the passage, a person might read it and be done with it. If, OTOH, I offer a citation only, the person may crack open his Bible, read the passage and then be inclined to read more.

Give a person a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will never go hungry.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:16 AM   #16
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I'm a little surprised that so much of this thread is about scripture. I appreciate the helpful sentiments, but I'm not at all religious. If it helps any of you, then, as John Lennon said, "Whatever gets you through the night." (or in this case, the ride, the recovery, the challenge, etc.).

I think much more on the subject will earn a boot to P&R, so let's return to our regularly scheduled topics - coming back from injuries or other layoffs:

One thing that vexes me some is that I am eager to return to club riding but I know I have to hold off b/c club rides will tempt me to push too hard. So for the early spring I'll be riding solo. I'm hoping to take some B rides by, maybe late May, but I don't know for sure until I see my progress. For the time being, the solo rides will be nice - at least if the ice would only go away.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:21 AM   #17
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I think you will come back quicker than you think. I think there is muscle memory there and you did not make the big gains you did so quickly on the onset of your cycling without good genes and a good attitude. Having recently turned fifty (last May) and soon to be fifty plus I know healing takes more than it used to. Falling out of form comes much quicker as well. But you can still heal and you can get stronger than you are now and your form is just around the next corner or two. Have fun chasing it down and passing it
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Old 03-27-14, 08:38 AM   #18
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...but at least I'm enjoying the ride...
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Old 03-27-14, 08:43 AM   #19
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Anyway, as the ancient zen masters would say: Patience, grasshopper.
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Old 03-27-14, 08:53 AM   #20
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Anyway, as the ancient zen masters would say: Patience, grasshopper.
Yup. Or at least the guy who played a zen master on TV.
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Old 03-27-14, 09:04 AM   #21
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What ever you can do for activity is a plus, whether it is just walking or some easy spinning riding it keeps your circulation going and keeps the muscles and joints active. Take to as it comes back without feeling the pain or getting burned out on riding and give up, potentially. As to the length of time for you to regain everything, if I had the hard answer to that I'd be well off and in more demand than I could handle. It is what you experience and feel is right. Sounds trite or canned, but its the facts.

Personal time frame from my health issues, it has been 4 years since the final surgery and 2 years since the last IV infusion series for me. I am at the point where I can easily do 30 miles a day without any problems as far as fitness and endurance. Longer rides would probably not be a problem up to say a century, but not fast by any means. I was pretty far down the tubes from everything I had happen so it was a steep and long climb up. Staying positive has been my biggest improvement point, it lets me go forward with what I know needs to be done. Hope any of this blathering helps somewhat. Best of luck and best wishes.

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