Have any of you been an active long distance cyclist and then gone through something where you completely lost your fitness and had to rebuild from scratch?
This is exactly what has happened and is happening to me now ... and I am experiencing an incredible amount of frustration and defeat.
Someone on a recent ride asked me what it was like to rebuild from scratch ... and prior to the past year I would have replied that it was easier than building up your distance as a newbie to cycling because you've got experience to draw from.
Prior to the past year I have had one incident where I was off the bicycle, and off exercise entirely, for 3 months. On 1 Nov 2001, I burnt my foot to the bone, and three months later I had to go to physio to learn to walk again, and gradually started building up my cycling. By July 2002, I rode the Rocky Mountain 1200. Back then, I lost my muscular strength and muscle tone, but for some reason I did not lose my endurance.
But this past year I have not only lost my muscular strength, I have also lost my endurance. I developed deep vein thrombosis a year ago on a flight to Australia, was diagnosed at the end of July when my symptoms increased from a sore leg to a sore and swollen leg that felt like I was dragging a tree stump around with me rather than a leg ... and difficulty breathing. I was admitted to hospital where I remained for the next two weeks ... and 25 abdominal injections to break up the clots. I was also put on Warfarin which apparently has the side effect of sapping energy.
I was off the bicycle from the beginning of June to the middle of September ... a little over 3 months, and when I started riding again, it was a huge effort.
I have done several long rides since then, but I feel like it is two steps forward and one step back. I do a successful 100K ... and then DNF the next one. I do a successful 300K ... and then DNF my next ride. I'm running about 50/50 on my successful vs. DNF rate now. I simply do not know if I'm going to successfully complete a ride or not anymore. Last weekend I successfully completed a 100K populaire (but was hoping to do a 200K brevet) on the Saturday, and then unsuccessfully completed a 100K populaire the next day ... I ran out of time.
Prior to the past year I would have thought that rebuilding from scratch was easier than building up your distance as a newbie to cycling because you've got experience to draw from. But not any more.
That past experience makes rebuilding from scratch so much more frustrating ... mentally defeating. When I was building up as a newbie, each longer distance was exciting and rewarding. Completing my first 50 km ride was great ... completing my first 100 km ride was an accomplishment ...
But now, even when I do complete a 100 km ride successfully, it's not rewarding or an accomplishment, and instead is often very disappointing because of how slow I was and how tired out I felt at the end. I used to be able to knock off 100 km rides with no difficulty whatsoever. At my peak they took me 4 hours ... even slightly past my peak they'd only take 5 hours. Now I'm lucky to complete them within the 6 hour 40 minute time limit for a 100 km populaire. I used to finish that distance feeling good ... now I'm exhausted at the end of a distance like that.
I was rediagnosed with a blood clot last week. I'm not sure if it is the same last remaining clot that was still there in December, the last time I had an ultrasound, or if it is a newly developed one. Nevertheless, we've discovered that I am genetically inclined to develop blood clots and that particular genetic mutation combined with a high homocystein level makes me prone to developing cardiac disease. We're working, relatively successfully, on lowering my homocystein levels ... and it appears I will be on Warfarin for the rest of my life to ward off the clots.
I have to say that with my health difficulties and having Machak stolen, I've come the closest I've ever been to packing it in and giving up cycling. But I don't really want to do that. I want my strength and enduance back!!!! I want to be able to comfortably ride the long distances again!!!!
Have you been here? After once being able to ride long distances, have you had to rebuild your strength and endurance?