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Thread: fitness mystery

  1. #1
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    fitness mystery

    For the last few weeks I have felt like my legs and my heart/lungs are not in sync.

    Background: I live in Ohio and usually take a break of about 3-3.5 months off the bike after september each year (I know it is best to ride all year and will probably do that from now on). I have been riding a road bike seriously for four years now and this will be my second season racing. I did 4 races for fun and experience last summer. I am 28 yrs old, almost 6'3" and currently about 202 lbs. My body fat is probably in the neighborhood of 10% (I'm planning to shave off 5-10 lbs).

    I made a decision to train and race seriously this year. I ended my break and began riding on January 17th. I started riding 5 days/wk, 35 - 45 min/day on my trainer and/or rollers between then and about 5 weeks ago for some base mileage (2 months of base). About five weeks ago I started doing intervals twice a week and a 35 min LT session once a week. I was still riding inside on my 5 days/wk, 35-45 min schedule (with intervals and LT) until a couple weeks ago when the weather finally broke and I could take some longer rides outside (still 5 days/wk and still mixing in intervals).

    Problem: I have been feeling good on my bike and do my intervals hard but during the last few weeks I noticed that I can't seem to get my heart rate up to my MHR before I feel spent. I did my first race of the year last saturday and wore my Heart Rate Monitor. My max heart rate during the race was only about 92% of MHR despite the fact that I thought I gave maximum effort a couple times. I have also recently noticed that during intervals I am burnt before my MHR is achieved. What gives? I feel like I am in decent shape. I am positive I am NOT overtrained and I don't feel lethargic or sick or out of shape on a bike or otherwise except when I try to give my max effort. Hell, I raced saturday and then rode 65 miles Sunday and felt OK this week. My resting HR is in the 30s! I seem to be fit except that I burn out on my 'all-out' efforts when my HR hits the high 170s. Are my leg muscles lagging behind my Cardiovascular fitness? Have I not done enough base? Should I continue to do intervals? Any advice is appreciated.
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  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Well, it's always possible it's some systemic problem, but you feel good, so I'd guess that's not it. I think you have overreached a bit. It's not classic overtraining, but you have probably overtaxed your systems and don't have enough base to support your harder efforts. It's not a good sign that you are still training about the same amount that you were when you started this season. By now, your mileage or time should be at least double what you were doing to start with.

    So I'd say More Base. Cut out the harder training efforts and try to put in a lot of time on the flat during the week. Work up to 2 hour rides which will not be too much, if, that's IF, you take it easy. With a harder 3 hour ride in the middle of the week, probably. Take a day off before race day. Get your intensity racing, until you start seeing MHR in the last lap.

    Next year, don't take that break. I did that one year and it took me two more years to get it all back. One month of hiking, weights, and other cross training off the bike is nice though.

  3. #3
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbaronzzi
    ... I am 28 yrs old, almost 6'3" and currently about 202 lbs. My body fat is probably in the neighborhood of 10% (I'm planning to shave off 5-10 lbs).

    I made a decision to train and race seriously this year. I ended my break and began riding on January 17th. I started riding 5 days/wk, 35 - 45 min/day on my trainer and/or rollers between then and about 5 weeks ago for some base mileage (2 months of base). About five weeks ago I started doing intervals twice a week and a 35 min LT session once a week. I was still riding inside on my 5 days/wk, 35-45 min schedule (with intervals and LT) until a couple weeks ago when the weather finally broke and I could take some longer rides outside (still 5 days/wk and still mixing in intervals).

    Problem: I have been feeling good on my bike and do my intervals hard but during the last few weeks I noticed that I can't seem to get my heart rate up to my MHR before I feel spent. ... My resting HR is in the 30s! I seem to be fit except that I burn out on my 'all-out' efforts when my HR hits the high 170s. Are my leg muscles lagging behind my Cardiovascular fitness? Have I not done enough base? Should I continue to do intervals? Any advice is appreciated.
    The info you give is not defining enough, really. For what you're questioning, its very hard to even come close to anything but guesses.
    But some thoughts.
    1 - Do the 2x20 anaerobic threshold test stickied in this forum - or some other 'standardized' measure of your current level. Even if it just a 'set' course of yours that you can run at your top effort. That will set a base measure from which you can gauge your future levels. Take good notes on your avg and max achieved heartrates. Use as a comparo for future self-tests.
    2 - AM I readin yor post wrong, or are you just coming outdoors recently? If so, you have little real roads miles. Trainer is good alternative where you cant ride on the road, bbut not the same.
    3 - Max Heart rate is a number you never reach (except for the A-Fib crowd...)
    4 - You are prolly very fit in an overall sense, but the legs are lagging behind. More miles will help that. Intervals (not overdone) will certainly help that. Tempo training at 80% and a little higher will help that. Fast Group rides (hammerfests , YEAH! ) will help that. Again don;t overdo any of that. Couple back to back days and then recovery as much as needed to have the legs feel fresh again. At your age, when in good riding form you should be able to accomplish at least 3-4 hard days in a row and then recover. But now, 2 days, real hard, back to back is a good start. Then recover.
    5 - my best guess says your Anerobic Threshold isn't as high as it could be for the efforts you expect to be able to make. Hiting the High 170s is taxing for someone like me at 58, but at 28 (unless there's something dramatically limiting) you should be Maxing in the 190s or higher.
    5 - from +5 - this doesn't mean you don;t have 'power', it means you can't sustain it long enough without going anaerobic. Once in a anaerobic state you can;t really sustain that effort, by that I mean in minutes and seconds of high effort level.
    6 - raising your AT (or if you prefer LT, lactic threshold - same,same) is a longer term process and is something done over months, a season or 2. Especially for anyone who has not done any/much competition before. Though, At 28, you'll see improvements much faster than any of us older riders might.

    Try do internet wide or BF searchs on raising AT or LT and adding that as a primary objective to your trainig goals. If you do, you'll see major improvements in that 2x20 AT test I mention, or any other reasonably standardized test/effort you set for yourself.

    report back at the end of the summer...

    Edit: That 3 -3.5 month break is killin you - like startin over noobie style again.
    Last edited by cyclezen; 04-25-07 at 10:57 PM.

  4. #4
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    3 - Max Heart rate is a number you never reach (except for the A-Fib crowd...)
    I see it a fair bit. After at least a couple hours of riding, try climbing for 10-15 minutes at a number you think is 5-8 beats below MHR, then sprint out of the saddle the last 100-200 meters to the top. You should see it. Even better, if you have the weather and the terrain, climb about 2000' at LT, then take it up to 5-8 beats below, as described, then the sprint. That's how you know what it is.

  5. #5
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    I know that break is part of the problem. I will cut that out of my yearly routine right now. My rationale for doing it before was to be fresh and motivated the rest of the year. In Northeast Ohio we get pretty crappy weather and narley roads between about november through march. I historically never rode outside when it is below about 50 degrees and because it is hard to stay motivated riding inside for 5 months I would take some time off until January when I thought it was time to get in shape again for spring. But, i see now that I can't maintain the fitness I need for racing with such a long break. I will be giving cold weather riding a try...or maybe make a conscious effort to ride at least a few days/wk inside through the late fall to keep the weight off and the legs from regressing.

    One of the things I am hearing from these posts is that maybe I just need to log more real world road miles to strengthen my legs. I will do that and also pay very close attention to my time and HR #s on one of my regular rides to guage the progression of my fitness. The good thing is that I have a bike path near my house that is about 21.5 miles long and I have used it as a time trial course and kept track of my best time on it over the last two seasons. I am sure that I have a spread sheet that shows my time and average HR (maybe max HR too) from about 3 weeks or a month ago.
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  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbaronzzi
    I historically never rode outside when it is below about 50 degrees and because it is hard to stay motivated riding inside for 5 months I would take some time off until January
    I have it a little easier because I live in the PNW. Almost all winter I can ride outside one day/week. You may not be able to do that. So what I do is try to do many different things. I have a set of rollers with a resistance unit. Much better than a trainer for whiling away the winter hours, I think. I have a gym membership, so I lift weights, use elliptical cross trainers and the StairMill. There's a spin class I can take if I want to. I snowshoe. You could ski XC. Run. Swim.

    There are lots of activities that will keep your aerobic system in good shape and keep your legs fit for cycling. Do them all, if you can, because then you won't get so bored. The rollers are a great tool. I build my program around them.

    Get some warmer clothes, too. I ride outside on the weekend when it's 35 or warmer, whether it's raining or not. I don't ride outside after work in the winter, because it's always raining and dark then. I don't want to get injured and I also don't want to spend all that time cleaning my bike.

  7. #7
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    I agree that rollers are a great tool. I have a good set of rollers and bought a good trainer this last winter for some variety and resistance. You are right about getting more variety and staying fit. I will look into a spinning class this winter.

    This spring I started buying some cold weather cycling apparel. I think your strategy of getting outside whenever the temp is in at least the mid to high 30s is what I plan to do. Nothing beats riding outside.

    All this still does not fix the weird fitness limbo I am in right now though. I guess I just plan to write off the first half of the racing season and use the next couple months to log some serious mileage. I guess I still plan to race but i will just use the races for the next month or two as "hard training" rides with no expectations beyond relaxing and having fun. Sound like a plan to get me back on track? Hopefully I will see my perceived effort and heart rate get in sync after a month or two.
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  8. #8
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbaronzzi
    I guess I just plan to write off the first half of the racing season and use the next couple months to log some serious mileage. I guess I still plan to race but i will just use the races for the next month or two as "hard training" rides with no expectations beyond relaxing and having fun.
    Well, this should be very interesting. I wouldn't "write off" the racing season just yet. You might find you will be a stronger competitor. If it were me, I'd still give it everything on the course. No relaxing. Vigilance and a high HR might pay off. Placing well is always fun. "They say" that being undertrained is usually better than being overtrained, because you'll be more motivated.

    I like to ride with what I call "an easy revving heart." I like to see that HR pop right up on the climbs. You can't go hard if you can't achieve a high HR. So rest that sucker on your training rides right now. What works the best for me in this situation is to ride mostly zone 2 on the flat, but flat with a few little bumps to it, and on those little bumps I bring my legs up to full power, sometimes in the saddle, sometimes out. Maybe a couple times an hour. The bumps I like are short enough that my HR never quite reaches LT, so my endocrine system isn't taxed, but my legs feel great afterwards. Bumps larger, smaller, or more frequent than "just right" I roll over in zone 2. This practice keeps my legs strong even though I'm taking it easy. Once or twice a week after a training ride do core work at home and include sets of one-legged knee bends off a chair.

    Come back in a couple of months and tell us how it went.

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