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  1. #1
    Member Californian's Avatar
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    Cycling to fitness status check (2 months in...)

    My primary question is this: Am I pushing too hard too soon?

    I'm in my late 30's, and for better or worse - I've lived a largely sedentary lifestyle for at least a decade. After a divorce of the variety they write country songs about, I have arrived at cycling as my portal to a more positive self image, a primary vessel for my overall health, and a sort of purification ritual.

    Taking a step back:
    Growing up I was always the most oustanding athlete in my neighborhood/peer group/school. The sports I excelled at were not endurance sports, and even at my peak of physical fitness, I would became weary after 3 quarters of play. I have theorized that I'm simply not physiologically constructed for an endurance activity, which could contribute to keeping me from my goal of completing a century et al. Although I might best describe myself of having the raw physical makeup of a cyclist (long legs/slender(ing)/stronger lower half than upper half).

    After enthusiastically taking up road cycling some 2 months ago, I have made some progress, and made some drastic changes in my diet and lifestyle. I have used the "Abs" diet to get myself on the right path nutrition-wise, and have consequently quit fast food/high fructose corn syrup/hydrogenated oils/desserts cold turkey. Full disclosure: I have not yet been able to kick my one vice: the evening beers after work.(In my defense I HAVE kicked the In 'n Out Burger/Round Table Pizza habit...no small feat)

    The positives: So far I have lost 15 Lbs., and when I think back to my 1st rides two months ago, my fitness level has certainly increased. My leg weariness has lessened...my 'saddle' stamina has improved with a newly upgraded seat (Terry Fly)...so now my limitation is my cardiovascular fitness level. I am doing 90 minute rides three times a week. Many rides are encouraging with an amazing 'second wind' arriving about 30 minutes in.

    My problem/concern: for each 90 minute ride that is strong/vigourous...I have one that is a struggle. I get a sensation that my heart is over-laboring and beating large in my chest/throat...while at the same time feeling strong in my legs. Most after-rides are fine, but some I am left feeling a little over extended or even a bit nauseous.

    I am an abject novice to endurance sports, and given my history, I know that I will need to sweat out years of cobwebs before I would begin to consider myself "in-shape". I am wondering if what I am experiencing is unusual, or if my expectation level is too high. As I can see, beginning cycling is a three prong senario of leg strength - cardiovascular fitness -and to a lesser degree saddle stamina. I very well may be just pushing too hard and not allowing my fitness level to develop naturally. I am still 20 lbs over my goal weight, and logic would suggest that has to happen over time.

    I am very much enjoying this process, but at the same time there is a little pessimist's voice in my head whispering 'you can't do this, you arn't made to do this, you will fail and fall back into you old unhealthy patterns'.

    Words of reality / encouragement are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    My problem/concern: for each 90 minute ride that is strong/vigourous...I have one that is a struggle. I get a sensation that my heart is over-laboring and beating large in my chest/throat...while at the same time feeling strong in my legs. Most after-rides are fine, but some I am left feeling a little over extended or even a bit nauseous.
    To be safe, always check with the Doc first. Generally speaking however, unless u are a finely conditioned athlete, you will struggle on some rides. U might be pushing yourself a little fast. Get with the Doc first just to make sure. When u describe your heart beating like that and "overlaboring", better to be on the safe side!!!

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Wow, you're doing great! Don't worry about what have been your specific athletic abilities. I ride with a fellow who was a very talented miler in his youth. He rides double centuries with no problem.

    Get a heart rate monitor. Try the 2X20 test in the sticky in this forum to find your LT. Is your nutrition good before and during these rides? Hydration good? How about the temperature during the difficult rides? Warmer?

    Your body goes through cycles during the week, during the month, during the year. Do these difficult rides occur at a particular point in the week?

    Nauseous is pretty normal. That's a sign of going unsustainably hard. It happens.

    You might think about getting your doc to do a treadmill test on you and find your max heart rate with an ekg attached. Don't let the doc stop you until you've maxxed it out.

    It takes 7 years to get good at this. You've made tremendous progress in a very short time.

  4. #4
    Senior Member 8Lives's Avatar
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    I think you are on track - and if you aren;t having any ill effects off the bike you should be fine. 2 months in you have probably worked out most of the kinks and cobwebs. However, you are still building a base. It might be a good idea to mix the rides up a little - some a little shorter, some a little longer. I think the effect you are feeling at 30 minutes is more from your body fully warming up. 30 minutes is too soon for a "second wind".

    You might want to get a comuter with heart rate monitor. If you are concerned you will be able to see if your HR is spiking and back off. I find the HRM most useful for telling me to back off...

  5. #5
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    I suspect you are going too hard. You probably need to build a base level of fitness and then move into harder workouts at specified intensities and times per week. Base levels intensities, IMO, are best determined by finding your lactate threshold, which also, allow you to determine your other workout zones.

    You are unlikely to know or establish your lactate threshold and training zones without some help. I recommend spending some money and either getting a coach or purchasing some software such as what is available at trainingpeaks.com. I read about 15 books on training last year and still had difficulty applying the knowledge to the real world. I purchased two different plans, (not at the same time) and “suddenly” understood what I’d been reading. The plans were relatively inexpensive and the real world application very helpful.

  6. #6
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Experiment. Try five 60 minute ride instead of three 90 minutes. For overall fitness, as opposed to race training, it's better to exercise nearly every day of the week, IMO.

    Try cross training too. Weights once a week can really increase strength rapidly if you use good training principles. Walking or running will help balance the leg muscles. Rowing and swimming give you cardio while still letting leg muscles rest.

    Just keep trying different things. You'll soon find what works for you. Make sure you ramp it up in a slow but steady fashion! Always do a little more this week than you did last week.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  7. #7
    Down 10# and 11 inches Ginny's Avatar
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    I've had that exact same problem. My legs give me all they have but my heart just doesn't know how.
    I got a heart rate monitor with an alarm that tells me when I'm out of my preset range, or 180bpm for me.
    I've found that part of my problem is that I want to work in too high a gear and pedal slower. What I've found I have to do is gear down and pedal faster. Staying in a heart rate equal to 60-80% of your max (mine is 201mhr) will help to get your heart built up. It's a muscle just like in your legs and you have to build it up, just way slower than your legs. Leg muscles can be torn to shreds and then given a few days rest to build back up stronger and bigger than before. The heart muscle is NOT the one you tear down and build up. You can't give it a rest, you need that one to live, . You build up the heart by riding in a range of 60-90% of your max. My max is 201 so I ride between 160-190 beats per minute, going up and down that range. It's helped a lot. I can last a lot longer on my rides by keeping my heart rate in the zone.
    Good luck, get that monitor!
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  8. #8
    Member Californian's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies and information.

    I finally did get into my doctor, and today I'm wired up like the six million dollar man with an EKG holter and 5 sensors glued around my torso. (The best part: the EKG technician was both knowledgable and attractive) I'm wearing the sensor for 24 hours and heading out for my evening ride and hoping for lots and lots of heart flopping

    I have a question about heart rate monitors, specifically the wrist-watch variety. Do these all come with a "chest strap" that does the sensing part, with the signal transmitted to the watch display... Or is there a heart rate monitor that is simply worn on the wrist with the sensor in the band?

    Thanks again for the useful information. Sometimes simply knowing you're not out on a island with this type of stuff is really encouraging.

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