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Thread: Weary legs

  1. #1
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    Weary legs

    When I ride long hard rides like 50 miles and up+climbs, my legs
    become so weary and it takes them days to fully recover.
    So it's not that Im not in shape because I can ride long distance
    and climb too, and my cardiovascular fitness is good too, I rarely
    feel out of breath, but the legs...sigh.
    After a long hard ride it would take at least 48 hours to get 80% recovery
    and maybe 4 days to full recovery.

    It really bugs me because not only my legs are weary but it radiates on
    other parts of my body too and I feel exhausted even in the morning after
    I slept well.

    Is anyone here familiar with this problem ?
    I really need some good advice.

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    Maybe a lack of lactic acid, the stuff that makes your muscles do what they do. Do you take your vitamins and drink milk?

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    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    Sounds like you just need more time spent on the road. If you do these rides with regularity your body will become accustomed to it over time. If the 50+ mile distance is something you do only occasionally your body won't bother to adapt to it.

    Here are a couple of ideas that have helped me:

    • Don't work on improving speed and distance at the same time. Pick one or the other and focus on it. If you are buiding endurance, start with long rides at a relatively slow pace. If you are building speed, don't add mileage. Do interval work or hill repeats.
    • Fuel: For any outing over 90 minutes find a gel, sports drink, or food that works well for you. At the completion of a long ride try to find foods to refuel that have a 4:1 carb to protein ratio, yogurt works for me, but there is an expesive sports drink called Endurox R4 that some folks like better than yogurt. During the first post-ride hour your body more or less "sponges up" protien to rebuild muscle. This is kind of a "magic hour". The same drink taken several hours later will not assist recovery nearly as well.
    • Stretching. Post-ride stretching will help with muscle soreness.
    • Cold shower after a ride. If you are like me you will hate it but your legs will thank you later.


    Dan
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    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    message. deep message.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronyex
    Is anyone here familiar with this problem ?
    I really need some good advice.
    Try and take advantage of the 20-minute or so window for getting those simple sugars into your blood, and muscles. As soon as your ride is done, down the sports drink of your choice, and perhaps even includes some protein with it. I do 20oz of Gatorade, and 1/2 of a protein bar. This has helped with my recovery. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    At first glance, I would probably say that although you may have the cardiovascular fitness, you lack the strength to do long rides. If the legs are weary and you are unable to bounce back from a ride, perhaps you do need to scale back on the intensity and length of the rides and then build up your strength and stamina to the point to where you can bounce back within a day of exercise. Also, consider that you'll need to hone your recovery- I don't know what you do for recovery, but you will want to do whatever you can to maximize your recovery process. Four days is way too long to fully recover from a 50 mile ride. I would think 12- 24 hours should be enough time.

    As far as your length and intensity of your rides, why not try to scale back to a 25 mile ride? Then, every week, work to increase your mileage by 10% per week. As you increase your mileage, pay close attention to your recovery. If you aren't recovering, stick with the current mileage until you can recover sufficently. Once you can, then the next week, increase your mileage by 10% for the week and ride it again, paying attention to your recovery. If you feel like you're adapting and able to recover, then you'll increase the workout by 10% the next week. If you're not recovering, then you stick with that current mileage until you've found you're able to recover aptly. And when that happens, you increase your mileage the next week by 10%. Repeat this process over time, and your body will have the time necessary to adapt, and not only that, you'll find that over the long run, you'll be able to take your fitness to a much higher level then going full out all the time. It's called PERIODIZATON. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

    As far as the recovery process, you can also aid the recovery process in a number of different ways. First off, replace the glucose and electrolytes lost with some kind of electrolyte drink, like Gatorade or Accelerade. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water- the amount of water lost during riding is more than we think. Every day, you should be drinking at least 100 oz of water every day. For stretching, what do you do? After your ride, I would recommend 40 minutes of stretching. In fact, I would recommend everyone do 45 minutes to an hour of stretching every single day. You can also add in massage. Massage is a great way of releasing chemicals and toxins that have built up from your rides- it would have to be more than getting one of those electric massagers from Walgreens. I'm talking about deep, penetrating massage from a professional. Massage will work to relax the muscles, and in doing so, will also help vasodilation of the blood vessels that supply blood to the muscles. This should increase blood flow to the muscle, which will aid in replenishing the muscles during recovery. Massage can be cheap- call around to the massage schools and see if any of them have a student clinic you can go to. They are usually about half the price of a professional or cheaper, and the massages are just as good. You can also try heat and ice. You can either alternate between heat and ice (something like for every 4 minutes of heat, you do 1 minute of ice). This alternating of heat and ice encourages vasodilation and vasoconstriction of the blood vessels supplying blood and nutrients to the muscles. Or you can try heat- go to any whirlpool or steamroom or sauna. If you use a sauna or steamroom, do make sure you place a cool towel around your head- that should help your body from overheating. Also, do make sure that you are getting enough carbohydrates- I don't know what your diet is, but when you're eating, 60- 65% of your diet should consist of carbs, 20- 25% of your diet should come from fats, and about 15 percent of your diet should come from protein. With cycling, you actually don't need as much protein as people think- it IS important to have protein for muscle repair and muscle building, but excessive protein will be excreted in the urine and/or stored as fat in the body, so do make sure you are balancing out your diet correctly.

    There is a lot to consider when it comes to the recovery process. To maximize your recovery, you'll need to do as much of what I suggested as possible.

    Good luck with it all.

    Koffee

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    N/A-forgot
    Last edited by shokhead; 04-07-04 at 10:06 AM.
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    Dude who rides bike BikeInMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronyex
    When I ride long hard rides like 50 miles and up+climbs, my legs
    become so weary and it takes them days to fully recover.
    So it's not that Im not in shape because I can ride long distance
    and climb too, and my cardiovascular fitness is good too, I rarely
    feel out of breath, but the legs...sigh.
    After a long hard ride it would take at least 48 hours to get 80% recovery
    and maybe 4 days to full recovery.

    It really bugs me because not only my legs are weary but it radiates on
    other parts of my body too and I feel exhausted even in the morning after
    I slept well.

    Is anyone here familiar with this problem ?
    I really need some good advice.
    If you're going full out for 50 miles and trying to do this every ride, that sounds like the problem in itself. You just cannot go hit the road full throttle all the time and expect to feel good or get better. You also don't mention anything about how you plan your recovery or what you eat. One thing for sure is spending 3+ hours at a hammering pace for a recreational rider is going to take a good amount of time to recover from. Sometimes you need to go slower to get faster.

    My average weekday training ride is around 50 miles but on easy days, I'm not beating my self up over that distance. On rest or easy days my heart rate will rarely even see 140 (average Hr for ride will be under 130) unless I'm on a climb and then it's barely higher than that.

    On interval days, I do between 30-40 minutes of speed work at heart rates of 170+. Either 2x20 minute sets with 5 minutes rest between sets or 6x5 minute sets with 2-3 minutes rest between sets with a complete ride time of around 3 hours. I go hard enough that I need 48 hours to fully recover with the day after being a 2-3 hour recovery ride. If I tried to go full gas for 3 hours twice a week, I'd never recover and eventually get slower.

    So a couple of questions to ask yourself are
    1 - what am I doing to help aid my recovery from my hard workouts (refueling, sleep and recovery rides)
    2 - am I riding smart (allowing for ample recovery from very strenuous rides and not riding so hard that I cannot recover in a timely fashion)

    Everyone is different and recovers at a different rate. I personally need lots of R&R time (easy rides and sleep) as I spend 15+ hours in the bike weekly in season. I may only do two hard workouts and possibly one group ride a week during preseason training in addition to my easy endurance miles but that's how I build strength that lasts all season.

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    As soon as possible, take an ice bath. Keep a 10 lb bag of ice in the freezer for this reason.
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    I here sex is a great recovery tool.
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

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    Thanks alot for all the info.
    I really wasnt giving enough attention for
    my diet and recovery process but now I will try
    to follow your advice ie Dan,Koffee &BikeinMN.

  12. #12
    rider of small bicycles geneman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    ... it IS important to have protein for muscle repair and muscle building, but excessive protein will be excreted in the urine and/or stored as fat in the body, so do make sure you are balancing out your diet correctly.
    ...
    Koffee
    Koffee,

    My Biochemistry may be rusty, but I'm pretty sure protein metabolism does not provide for conversion of unused amino acids to fat. Hence the success of all-protein diets in reducing fat.

    -mark

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by geneman
    Koffee,

    My Biochemistry may be rusty, but I'm pretty sure protein metabolism does not provide for conversion of unused amino acids to fat. Hence the success of all-protein diets in reducing fat.

    -mark
    My biochem is just as rusty, but first, I'm not going to hijack a thread to argue for or against the high protein diet. If you feel like you have to debate it, start another thread on the topic.

    I do believe I oversimplified- proteins are long chains of amino acids, but at the same time, we have to consider the protein diet itself, as well as what's beinc consumed with the high protein diet. As far as the "success" of the all-protein diets in reducing fat, a protein diet often results in an increase in fat intake. Excess protein is not used efficiently by the body, and can promote an increased metabolic burden on the kidneys and liver. A high protein-high fat diet, deficient in carbohydrate, causes a metabolic shift in favor of ketosis.

    Besides that, when we eat protein in our diet, the main source of protein is from animal fats. There are not many people on Atkins who are vegetarians! When proteins are ingested, they are broken down into water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. The nitrogen part of protein metabolism is used for amino acids in muscle and tissue repair, as well as to drive the Krebs Cycle (to a small extent). BUT we are not just ingesting long chains of amino acids- often, these animal fats are higher in saturated fats. As we overconsume protein, we increase the amount of saturated fats in the body. I remember hearing once that people on high-protein diets are consuming up to 34% of their total calories in the form of protein and up to 53% of total calories from fat. So, if someone is eating a higher protein diet, they're actually consuming more fat, which will be stored in the body in excess. Since there isn't a lot of energy expenditure promoted in Atkins, then if you think about it, there will be excessive amount of fat storage in the body.

    Beyond this, there is more to it with Atkins and other high protein diets, but I'm not going to discuss it in this thread. The point of THIS thread is to discuss recovery, not the alleged success of protein rich diets. I had hoped to skip a longer explanation of proteins, so I did simplify things a bit, but I suppose I should have just broke it down so I wouldn't have to then hijack a thread about the "success" of protein diets.

    Koffee

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    Dang Koffee- he was just using the diet as an example.
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    Isnt she sweet?
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

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    rider of small bicycles geneman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Isnt she sweet?
    It's all good.

  17. #17
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    From my end, I'm talking about protein strictly as a recovery. If someone comes in talking about the benefits of high protein diets for weight loss, that's something totally different, and at that point, I have to take the time to backtrack so that people can see what I'm talking about with diet intake for recovery. To that end, if people want to talk about protein diets, don't confuse the issue with a diet for aiding in recovery- what's the point of even bothering with an explanation?

    Regardless, from now on, I'll limit myself to 2 sentences or less when I bother. That way, there's no room for debate, and I won't have to deal with sarcasm when I'm simply trying to clarify.

    Koffee

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronyex
    When I ride long hard rides like 50 miles and up+climbs, my legs
    become so weary and it takes them days to fully recover.
    So it's not that Im not in shape because I can ride long distance
    and climb too, and my cardiovascular fitness is good too, I rarely
    feel out of breath, but the legs...sigh.
    After a long hard ride it would take at least 48 hours to get 80% recovery
    and maybe 4 days to full recovery.

    It really bugs me because not only my legs are weary but it radiates on
    other parts of my body too and I feel exhausted even in the morning after
    I slept well.

    Is anyone here familiar with this problem ?
    I really need some good advice.

    One thing not mentioned so far is cadence. If you put in too much effort uphill, and really strain the legs, then after just a few hills, legs will be knackered. Keep the low cadence for a few more hills, and it then hits the body. I'm in training for a gruelling ride, and I am hitting the hills with higher gears now, but this is to strenthen the legs. not for normal riding. I have a cadence of 90/95, and although I normally would keep this cadence up for the hills, by changing down a gear, I currently find that I drop to 75/80 with the higher gearing, and that burns a bit. I get rid of the lactic, over the top of the hill by spinning faster, up around 120, until the legs recover, and this is working for me. This is further proven because at the gym I am pulling higher weights at present, and recovery from the gym is taking too long again. Roll on another month, when I can get back to normal cycling, away from my Body building exercises.

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    Senior Member Lonestar1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronyex
    When I ride long hard rides like 50 miles and up+climbs, my legs
    become so weary and it takes them days to fully recover.
    So it's not that Im not in shape because I can ride long distance
    and climb too, and my cardiovascular fitness is good too, I rarely
    feel out of breath, but the legs...sigh.
    After a long hard ride it would take at least 48 hours to get 80% recovery
    and maybe 4 days to full recovery.

    It really bugs me because not only my legs are weary but it radiates on
    other parts of my body too and I feel exhausted even in the morning after
    I slept well.

    Is anyone here familiar with this problem ?
    I really need some good advice.
    Remember that even the pros don't take the day off when they have a "rest" day during any of the grand tours. BikeInMin & Koffee gave you some solid advice about ride intensity,maximum effort, recovery,etc.
    I would just have to echo what the others have said. Try fewer miles @ less max. effort, throw in some real recovery immediately upon finishing the ride, try a recovery ride the next day. Very easy effort. Don't
    freak out because you're not pushing 19-20+ mph. The idea is to flush the remaining built-up lactic acid from the system.
    "...You ask me what I like about
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    be here...all night long."

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    From my end, I'm talking about protein strictly as a recovery. If someone comes in talking about the benefits of high protein diets for weight loss, that's something totally different, and at that point, I have to take the time to backtrack so that people can see what I'm talking about with diet intake for recovery. To that end, if people want to talk about protein diets, don't confuse the issue with a diet for aiding in recovery- what's the point of even bothering with an explanation?

    Regardless, from now on, I'll limit myself to 2 sentences or less when I bother. That way, there's no room for debate, and I won't have to deal with sarcasm when I'm simply trying to clarify.

    Koffee
    You only get what you ask for. When i bother,come on,light'n up,please!
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  21. #21
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    Sure, as soon as you get some better grammar, dood.

  22. #22
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    You call your elders dood, wow.
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

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