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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 06-24-08, 01:08 PM   #1
Ralleh
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Optimal Number of Days Off?

Hi, I'm just starting to ride seriously and I'm noticing that my quads are still sore after a day's rest off the bike, so I'm wondering if I should keep taking days off until they feel normal or if I should ignore it. My performance is much worse when I ignore it (as judged by me requiring easier gears than when my legs are 'fresh'), so I'm thinking that I should be taking 2 or maybe even 3 days off until the muscle repairs and then start back up again.
Is this a typical thing for starting to ride a lot?

For what it's worth, I'm in my 20s and I have a 2000 Trek 1000 and I want to be riding at least 10 miles a day for right now.
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Old 06-24-08, 01:31 PM   #2
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Take it easy. If you overtrain, you wont get any benefits from it. However- some soreness comes
from lactic acid in your muscles that just needs to be flushed out from exercise. Maybe try your
10 mile ride, then the next day 5 miles only (we call this a recovery ride). After those two days
of riding, then take three days off.
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Old 06-24-08, 03:23 PM   #3
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Is there an easy way to tell if it is muscle tearing vs. lactic acid? The location that is sore is low on the quadriceps diagonally outward and right above the knee. My guess would be that this is the standard part of the leg that gets worked out from cycling. I'm kind of thinking it's not lactic acid because it feels the same after many hours.

Thanks.
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Old 06-24-08, 04:16 PM   #4
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Are you stretching after hard rides? Or giving yourself a thorough massage? Easy recovery ride the next day?

A day's rest should be plenty if you are eating right and doing the above things.
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Old 06-25-08, 01:32 AM   #5
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Stretching before and after is the key.
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Old 06-25-08, 05:55 PM   #6
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Do some recovery rides (light, easy spinning on flat ground for 10-30 minutes.) That's much better than taking a day off. You should still take a day off each week, or at least one day off every two weeks, but fit in some easy recovery rides to keep your legs loose and your blood flowing.

Also, make sure you warmup before and cool down after each ride.
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Old 06-25-08, 11:31 PM   #7
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How much and how hard have you been riding? Did you suddenly increase your mileage or intensity? If a rest day isn't setting things right, you may have over-reached. It happened to me last week... I'd been riding too much, and a 100 km Sunday ride put me out of commission. A day of rest didn't help. I rode to work (26 km round trip) really slowly (like around 60% of MHR) on Tuesday and Wednesday, which didn't help at all. My legs were still sore and slightly swollen, and I could barely get up and down stairs. On Thursday I made the mistake of sprinting up some stairs in an attempt to catch a train... terrible idea. My legs seized up and I nearly collapsed from the pain.

If that sounds like how you're feeling, take a few days off (I just started riding again yesterday). Get a massage. Take it easy when you start riding again.

Everyone knows about rest days, but I just learned that if you're riding hard (intervals and such), you need to do an easy week every once in a while too. Starting next week I'm going to try 2 weeks of hard riding and 1 week of easy riding.

Hope that helps!
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Old 06-26-08, 10:45 AM   #8
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I ended up taking two days off in a row and that seemed to do the trick. I'm deciding if I should ride on a particular day by whether my legs are killing me when I go up the stairs to where I live. Yesterday I did a lot of stretching before, during and after an 18 mile ride and while my legs are pretty dead today, they feel like I might be able to ride tomorrow. I bought a heating massager from Target that is amazing for my quads. I dunno if it makes recovery faster or has any effect on lactic acid buildup, but it at least feels great after a ride and in the morning.
One thing that I hope will stop happening was that my calf muscles were cramping pretty bad toward the end and starting to "lock up" on me. I ate a banana before the ride and two more during the course of it, so I don't think that was the problem.
I guess my last question would be if I should strive for daily riding, or if it is ok to ride as much as you possible can on a given day and then take whatever number of days off are necessary until you can do it again.
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Old 06-26-08, 11:04 AM   #9
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What you are discovering is that you will not have your best legs every day.

Don't worry. Its the same for everybody.

Have you ever encountered the idea of a recovery ride? I'm not trying to be a jerk, either, I'm serious.

the idea is that you may only be able to get in 2 or 3 real breakthrough workouts a week, for the exact reasons you are noting.

But you can't just ride 2 or 3 days a week, so on the other days you don't ride very hard. You spin an easy gear and you only are trying to get some fresh blood to some tired legs. You actually recover faster this way.

Another thing you need to do is put some energy into your recovery as well. Get a good night's sleep, go to bed early, and make sure you eat when you get done riding. Your body replaces glycogen at a higher rate in the first 2 hours after a ride. Take advantage of that.
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Old 06-26-08, 11:07 AM   #10
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Is there an easy way to tell if it is muscle tearing vs. lactic acid?
Thanks.
a tear will be a sharp, stabbing kind of pain, not a dull ache

and if you believe all the research out there, they now say that lactic acid is probably not the culprit in delayed muscle soreness. But I dunno. I just read the stuff, I don't do the research myself.
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Old 06-26-08, 01:06 PM   #11
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I'm going to have to work some of these recovery rides into my routine. I always thought that it would make healing slower, but that is really interesting that it can speed it up. Would taking a long walk help as well, or do you want to be doing the same activity? I guess I haven't been doing it since I hit hills here no matter which way I ride. Maybe I should just walk the bike for the hilly portion so I'm not straining anything.
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Old 06-26-08, 03:26 PM   #12
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It's DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - due to microtears in your muscles. It's not lactic acid (or more properly, lactate.) So the more you work your torn muscles, the more torn and weaker they become. So you have to rest them. You can also rest them by riding easy, well below the pain threshold. You should notice that they hurt less as your easy ride goes on. If they start to hurt again while you're riding, you either need to quit or cut the speed way back. A recovery ride opens your capillaries and flushes your muscles with fluid and nutrients. I think it also helps your muscles heal in a way that makes them more efficient for riding, but I don't know the mechanism.

But, and this is a big but, you need to get your weekly miles up to build base and get into condition. So if you are hurting yourself so badly that it's cutting into your weekly mileage (counting recovery rides) you need to ease off on the intensity of all your rides until you can get some base. Once you have a good base, you should be able to recover from an ordinary hard ride in a day. Intervals may take longer.

It gets harder in summer, when many of us schedule a killer ride in the mountains of 100-250 miles or more every weekend. Those rides may take a full week of recovery riding to recover from. Or even longer.

A long walk does help. I often go hiking in the mountains the day after a hard ride, but at a relatively low exertion level. That really makes my legs sore, but they seem to recover stronger and with more endurance.
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Old 06-27-08, 07:32 AM   #13
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I guess I haven't been doing it since I hit hills here no matter which way I ride. Maybe I should just walk the bike for the hilly portion so I'm not straining anything.

it's the same for me. I live in the mountains. I have a bike with touring gears I use for recovery rides

honestly, of all the things that made the biggest difference in my riding, learning how to take an easy recovery ride paid off more than most anything else.
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Old 06-27-08, 08:08 AM   #14
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In bodybuilding there are various schools of thought regarding protein and amino acid uptake within a certain "time window" after exercise to speed the recovery and muscle building process.

I'm new to cycling, but wonder if there are similar thoughts in cycling regarding recovery and building of leg muscle after exertion?
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Old 06-27-08, 08:26 AM   #15
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In bodybuilding there are various schools of thought regarding protein and amino acid uptake within a certain "time window" after exercise to speed the recovery and muscle building process.

I'm new to cycling, but wonder if there are similar thoughts in cycling regarding recovery and building of leg muscle after exertion?
Yeah, there's a lot of talk about that in cycling as well. It's mainly about getting the proper recovery nutrients into your body at a specific time after the ride. And of course, recommended food and times vary depending on what you want to accomplish and who you ask.
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Old 06-27-08, 08:54 AM   #16
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In bodybuilding there are various schools of thought regarding protein and amino acid uptake within a certain "time window" after exercise to speed the recovery and muscle building process.

I'm new to cycling, but wonder if there are similar thoughts in cycling regarding recovery and building of leg muscle after exertion?

Dr. Ed Burke's book "Optimal Muscle Recovery" is a good source. It is referenced by alot of the training books out there, including the Friel book. I have the 2003 edition.

Monique Ryan's "Nutrition for Endurence Athletes" is also a good source. She writes a column over at VeloNews.
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Old 06-28-08, 08:18 AM   #17
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Well, whatever I'm doing seems to be working out alright. After the 18-mile ride on Wednesday, I took a day off the bike completely and stretched a lot and used the massager on my legs and they were in good enough shape for a 25-mile ride yesterday. This is the most wiped out they have felt, so I am going to just take some walks this weekend and try it again on Monday.
I'm going to start thinking of ways to work recovery rides in. One thing I noticed yesterday was that during the first 3/4 of the ride my legs felt the best they have on any ride to date, so I think I'm making some good progress.
My ride day routine consists of eating a big turkey sandwich and a banana after work and making sure I'm hydrated, stretching and riding for 5 or so mile blocks at a time. I then stop for a minute or two to stretch my legs and drink water. I eat a banana every 8 miles or so and it seems to really help me keep going. I think in time I'll be able to ride in ever larger blocks and just drink while I'm riding.
After the ride I do a lot of stretching and try to eat a lot of lean meat and fruit. I wanna say the massager is speeding up recovery, but I might be imagining it.
One thing that really sucks is that I've had two flat tires in the front and two in the back in the last week. I think there must be a lot of glass or something on the trail. I didn't realize it until just now, but I think since the previous owner of this bike rode so little and put the bike up in his garage for 7 years, the tires probably have the original inner tubes. Instead of repairing them, I'm just going to replace them and see if it helps. I also finally adjusted the derailleurs to shift perfectly, so I'm really liking this Sora thumb-shifting.
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