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Thread: Legs on fire

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    Legs on fire

    I took the plunge and bought a new road bike today to try and get back in shape. My legs catch fire after only a few minutes of riding. Will it take longer for my legs to catch fire as I get into better shape?

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    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Short answer is you will gain fitness as you ride more.

    Long Answer -

    What kind of riding are you doing? Going up hills or just putting around town? How fast are you going (relative, fast or slow)? Are you spinning the gears or mashing (i.e. pedaling nice and fast or slow and hard)? These factors and more all relate to the "burning" feeling of cycling.
    Just your average club rider... :)

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    Senior Member jennings780's Avatar
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    I have swam for years and jog on occasion - I didn't start biking until the first week in in January. I was somewhat out of shape due to having reconstructive surgery on my ankle in November and being in a cast for 7 weeks. I started biking by riding the exercise bike at physical therapy. I was only able to ride the bike for 17 minutes the first time I rode it. My legs burned and hurt horribly from the first five minutes onward.
    I rode the exercise bike throughout January and then bought my road bike the first week of February. I did a lot of intervals on the exercise bike - which really helped my progress.

    By mid-February I was going on rides that were about an hour long. In March I got clipless pedals and went on my first small group ride (about 2 hours).

    I have watched, very gradually, my average speed come up and my distance increase greatly.

    I now bike 3 - 4 times a week. My long weekend ride is at least 30 miles and usually over 40 miles. My shorter rides during the week range from 17 - 26 miles. So, the cycling conditioning does get much better - pretty quickly.

    Take it slow. Build up over time. Buy a heartrate monitor - do most of your rides aerobically but add some intervals with anaerobic training to one ride a week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockinAR
    I took the plunge and bought a new road bike today to try and get back in shape. My legs catch fire after only a few minutes of riding. Will it take longer for my legs to catch fire as I get into better shape?

    Desribe the symptoms of "legs catching fire." I'm assuming this is lactic acid buildup, but I've never heard that expression before.

  5. #5
    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    First of all, this is normal when you start and will abate in time. Eventually you get a different kind of burn... one that feels GOOD more than it hurts. Otherwise...

    CARB UP AN HOUR BEFORE YOU RIDE.

    If your muscle are failing before you get winded, carbing up will help. This happens to people who diet and buy a bike at the same time. Which is really common. I made this mistake, and it held back my training. Try this: eat a bowl of noodles the evening before a ride, then again an hour before the ride. Notice that your legs last longer, and can go harder, without burning? Notice yourself getting winded instead of stopping because of pain in your legs? Thats cause your muscles are full of noodles, and they're being burned... instead of yucky and painful lactosis.

    The other thing is, if you have gears: downshift and spin faster. That should kick the old heart in, over the lungs. I wish I had gears sometimes
    "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.
    A liberal is a conservative who's been arrested."

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    Realistic answer, I went from zero to 200+ miles per week and was 38lbs overweight, took 11 months and by that time I was doing around 300miles a week, my legs dont burn anymore,even when I ride at my max for an hour straight,which these days is just over 26mph.Legs burned and felt like jello for months, then one day it just kinda stopped.How long it takes depends on YOU, rest assured though, it only takes about 2 weeks off and the burning will be back,biking and fitness is very unforgiving, it cant be faked.You can expect most of it to go away after a couple of months if you ride enough.Lots of folks will recommend using gears, nothing wrong with that, just keep in mind lots of folks lean on gearing as a crutch and that holds back the fitness development process too.Dont overdo it, but dont underdo it either, there is a line there.The legs on fire sensation at first is normal.

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