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Old 06-20-09, 08:12 PM   #1
NewOnthePedals
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New to Biking & Struggling (fatique, etc)

Hello Everyone,

I'm brand new to the forums and wanted to jump right in and get some feedback from those of you more experienced than I.

I have led a very (very) sedentary life. I was not active as a child and have certainly not been active as an adult. In fact, I spent most of 2008 in a basement not moving off my computer chair for days at a time. I realized that my lifestyle was not good and have made some major changes in my life. Got divorced, found someone new, changed my eating habits completely... and started daily exercise.

I have a hip injury which has limited me, but it's finally getting stronger. My new husband and I try to walk for 45 minutes to an hour several times a week and then we alternate with bike rides. I've now been at it consistently for three months. My pulse is lower, my blood pressure is lower, my weight has dropped and my legs are more toned than they have been in probably a dozen years.

The problem is, I feel like I'm struggling all the time. Sometimes I get on my bike and my legs instantly feel fatigued. Going up hill in 2nd gear still makes me pant and my legs get very sore and crampy. My recovery time now is much better. Three months ago it'd take me nearly an hour to get my heart rate and pulse down, now, after a brief rest I'm ready to go again.

But, I still can't go long in higher gears, sometimes my legs feel super fatigued and I just feel like I'm not making the progress I should be? In three months... shouldn't my legs not get as fatigued any more? Should I push myself for longer distances or keep them small? We walk from 2 to 3 miles when we walk and we bike around 5 miles or so when we do....

I just now feel like my cardio can handle longer lengths, but any major up hills and I'm just dying. Any advice for me? SHould I be adding any vitamins... should I bike longer and harder?

What advice might you have for someone who really is training their body just to work properly?

Thank you all, very much, for your time and attention.

Cheers!
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Old 06-20-09, 08:20 PM   #2
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I am not qualified to give you any of the answers you need... but let me be the first to congratulate you for the work you have done already. Probably a fitness doctor would be the safest bet to guide you, but there are no doubt people here with similar experiences. I am someone who used to be fairly fit but the last ten years have been career driven and I am out of shape now. My personal feeling is that things just take time, so keep up the good work.
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Old 06-20-09, 08:24 PM   #3
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I was sick for 4 years before I got into riding.
It takes time to get up to your potential.
Go slow. You are trying to hard.
It took 500 miles for my legs to get strong.
18,000 miles and I am still getting stronger.

The trick for hills is to see how slow you can go up and use the lowest gearing you have.

Ride more, rest one day each week.
The more you ride the stronger you will become.
Endurance and some speed will come as you get stronger.
Your First Goal is to always Ride Safe.
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Old 06-20-09, 08:30 PM   #4
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There is a lot of info not provided -- age, additional contributing health factors (diabetes, other) starting weight, type of bike you are riding, terrain and road surfaces, etc.

Anyway, I had been oozing along like mud for about five years before I started riding last year, and one of the first things I did was go in for a simple physical and blood work. The doc gave me a clean bill of health and his blessing on hitting the road.

What I am suggesting is that if you have not had a physical in a while, you might need to take this same info to a doctor and get a real medical opinion, plus undergo the tests that can uncover the causes of the fatigue if they are out of the range of normal.

That said, it can take a while before you cross the fitness threshold and no longer feel fatigued. I joined the USMC in 1972 and thought I was in fair condition until I got to boot camp. Eventually (some time after graduation) I caught my personal pace and was able to stay on top of my required training program, but three months into it at graduation I was still feeling like it was on top of me.

And there was a guy in our platoon that we picked up from the conditioning unit. He had been at PI for months and had lost 100 lbs when he joined our platoon, and then spent three more months with us. Keep in mind that this was mostly young men between the ages of 18 and 25.

My point here is really a reiteration of what I said above -- it will no doubt be a while before you cross the line from "it's killing me" to "I'm over the hump and on the downhill track."

Stay with it. It does get better!
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Old 06-21-09, 12:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by NewOnthePedals View Post
Hello Everyone,

I'm brand new to the forums and wanted to jump right in and get some feedback from those of you more experienced than I.

I have led a very (very) sedentary life. I was not active as a child and have certainly not been active as an adult. In fact, I spent most of 2008 in a basement not moving off my computer chair for days at a time. I realized that my lifestyle was not good and have made some major changes in my life. Got divorced, found someone new, changed my eating habits completely... and started daily exercise.

I have a hip injury which has limited me, but it's finally getting stronger. My new husband and I try to walk for 45 minutes to an hour several times a week and then we alternate with bike rides. I've now been at it consistently for three months. My pulse is lower, my blood pressure is lower, my weight has dropped and my legs are more toned than they have been in probably a dozen years.

The problem is, I feel like I'm struggling all the time. Sometimes I get on my bike and my legs instantly feel fatigued. Going up hill in 2nd gear still makes me pant and my legs get very sore and crampy. My recovery time now is much better. Three months ago it'd take me nearly an hour to get my heart rate and pulse down, now, after a brief rest I'm ready to go again.

But, I still can't go long in higher gears, sometimes my legs feel super fatigued and I just feel like I'm not making the progress I should be? In three months... shouldn't my legs not get as fatigued any more? Should I push myself for longer distances or keep them small? We walk from 2 to 3 miles when we walk and we bike around 5 miles or so when we do....

I just now feel like my cardio can handle longer lengths, but any major up hills and I'm just dying. Any advice for me? SHould I be adding any vitamins... should I bike longer and harder?

What advice might you have for someone who really is training their body just to work properly?

Thank you all, very much, for your time and attention.

Cheers!
I am not a doctor, so this advice is merely my opinion, follow it or listen to it at your own risk.

Your initiative is great, but sometimes cycling is not the best thing- or it is not for everyone. I happen to love it and thatís why I do it. Now vitamins are a good thing but they will probably not get rid of your fatigue. It sounds to me like you need to build muscle, like you need to get used to feeling your body work- it is painful to pump up a steep hill, but it does get better. You certainly need to consult a doctor on the issue because there is a possibility that it is bad for your hip? I donít really know.

Do you ride every day or just once a week, once a month?

Warming up is one of the hardest parts about riding a bike, but once you are warmed up the fatigue feeling should turn into rhythm, you have to look for the motion, feel the motion, get into the rhythm, lose yourself in the ride, forget about your legs. Listening to music is the way I ride and I never ride a bike without music.

It sounds to me like you are experiencing something you have never experienced before- pushing your body to do what it doesnít want to do in order to increase your bodies strength and ability? Good for you!

Do what you can and donít hurt yourself. When you know your legs have been worked out and you feel they will be sore the next day, then stop; take it up tomorrow.

Respectfully
Jack
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Old 06-21-09, 05:23 AM   #6
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I guess my mind does work while sleeping, because I got up this morning with another thought.

There is a positive correlation about cycling and fitness -- particularly for those of us who include (fatty) weight loss in our goals. The correlation is this: at the same time strength and muscle are increasing useless weight is coming down.

However, exercise will also make you hungry, so if a balanced diet is not part of the plan, including caloric intake that builds energy reserves, you could be creating some of your own barriers.

My thought here is to do a bit of general health and fitness reading -- in particular on the topic of diet. The issues you are experiencing with fatigue may resolve their selves.
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Old 06-21-09, 05:52 AM   #7
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One thing that new riders learn over time is to pedal faster, and not push hard on each stroke. It's called "spinning" as opposed to "mashing" - pedaling slowly with a lot of force on each pedal stroke.

It doesn't mean that you speed up. Pushing hard? shift to an easier gear. No force at all on each stroke? shift to a harder gear.


Do you have a bike computer or a watch? On flat ground, count the revolutions of your right pedal for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. The goal is to regularly be pedaling 80 to 90 rpm.
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Old 06-21-09, 07:24 AM   #8
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I remember that.

You have a crappy bike. don't you. I did too, when I started riding again.
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Old 06-21-09, 08:53 AM   #9
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I remember that.

You have a crappy bike. don't you. I did too, when I started riding again.
I think we need an emoticon for "random," 'cause otherwise I don't understand your comment.

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Old 06-21-09, 12:36 PM   #10
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Congratulations on getting out on the bike!

I went from sedentary to being able to finish centuries, the Death Ride, and racing. I'm much fitter but I still get tired and my legs still hurt. It takes a lot more to make them hurt now, but I can do a lot more, so they wind up hurting just as much as when I could barely do six miles. That's ok; it's good pain. Stretching and a day off lets them recover.

Many new riders use too tall a gear, try shifting down to an easier gear and spining the pedals faster to maintain the same speed. On hills, shift down as needed to maintain a comfortable pedalling cadence. Going for longer distance on some rides will help your improvement but remember that you have to meter your effort, you can't go all out and expect to last for a long distance. It will take time to learn how to pace yourself for distance and up hills. You will get it wrong on some rides, that's ok, it is a learning process.
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Old 06-21-09, 12:49 PM   #11
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I think we need an emoticon for "random," 'cause otherwise I don't understand your comment.
Some bikes stink. I had this hybrid and it took a lot of work to get it to go anywhere.
When I replaced it, I nearly doubled my mileage overnight.
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Old 06-21-09, 02:18 PM   #12
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Some bikes stink. I had this hybrid and it took a lot of work to get it to go anywhere.
When I replaced it, I nearly doubled my mileage overnight.
Okay. I understand.

When I moved from my old bike to the Giant, it was a difference that could not be explained to someone who had not experienced it.

Onward...
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Old 06-21-09, 08:21 PM   #13
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Excellent information you guys. I find it very helpful. I think I have been "mashing" a bit and pushing too hard sometimes. I will also count my rpm's as that will be something I can do to keep an eye on it.

As far as the other questions that I received. I am 32 years old, mother of two. My physical I had a year ago came across as healthy. My pulse at rest in January was 90 and has been consistently 90 for the past couple of years at the doctor's office. My last appointment it was at 80. My weight was 200 pounds and I am 5'8". I'm now down to 190 or so... my body shape has changed quite a bit, my legs are smaller, as is the rest of my body. I'm not diabetic nor do I have any overall illnesses, other than I'm prone to migraines.

My hip injury was from a fall and tilted my pelvis. I'm under the care of a physical therapist who has given me a green light to continue walking and bicycling.

My bike is a Trek 7200 hybrid. I prefer to ride on paved trails and around the neighborhood.

Again, thank you all for the thoughts and feedback. I appreciate it
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Old 06-22-09, 06:22 AM   #14
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Do intervals. What? Yeah, but what I mean is get rest in between hard efforts, and by rest I mean 3-4 days. IOW, ease into it. Congratulations on your weight loss and getting up and doing stuff!
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Old 06-24-09, 01:00 PM   #15
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You have to remember to rest. Resting and sleeping and eating well will give you strenght. Go slow and you'll get there.
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Old 06-25-09, 01:00 PM   #16
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mix in some walking with your riding, and ignore those high gears. lots of us don't use them, and when we do, it's not all the time
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Old 06-25-09, 03:52 PM   #17
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Huge grin for you! Way to go! Vast quantities of positive feedback coming your way. At 50, I stumbled one day on the way to the mailbox. The next day I bought a bike. That was 14 years ago, and I'm still getting stronger. So it takes a while. No, 3 months is not going to do it! Ease off on yourself a bit. My legs will get so fatigued it's all I can do not to sleep the whole next day. Of course that's from a very long ride in the mountains, but it's the same idea.

What you want to watch is: are you getting stronger or weaker, especially on the hills? If you're getting stronger, even very slowly, you're doing it right. If you're getting weaker, you need to rest more, not exercise harder. I'm a bit of a maniac, but what I did starting out was to ride away from home until I was exhausted, then ride back. You can keep going a lot longer than you think you can.

Important things in order, IMHO: clothing, food, heart rate monitor, bike. You want clothing that keeps you comfortable in any weather you'll encounter. Do not be afraid of rain. You will not melt. You'll need to learn to eat and drink on the bike as your rides get longer. And they will, more quickly than you might suppose. A heart rate monitor is very handy to help you from working too hard, and also from working too little. You'll know when you want more bike.
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Old 06-26-09, 12:06 AM   #18
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My sage wisdom: congratulations on adopting a more active lifestyle - enjoy what you have. We all have our limits and we all run up against them regularly, and every day is different. if you can decide to enjoy working at your limits, regardless of what those limits are, then thats about more than half the battle there.

I'm 45 myself and have been pretty fit and healthy most of my life, and I can still ride most of the guys I know into the ground, but there's no denying I'm not 25 anymore; that the future is not as bright as the past and that the bright opportunities I passed up when I was young are just not there any more. Regardless, every day I take what I have and enjoy it. I wake up every morning looking forward to the day, because anything else is a waste.

Good luck!
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Old 06-26-09, 06:47 PM   #19
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New I agree with all the congrats! What you have accomplished is fantastic - most people don't get off the couch! Just the mere exercise will improve your overall health - heart rate, blood presssure and trauma to your hip.
Proper nutrition is essential to you getting stronger and recovering from workouts. Make sure that you stay in touch at least yearly with your doctor. Medical problems can creep up slowly and confound your efforts - ie. low thyroid. Hopefully also, if your hip injury was to the bone, you have had a bone mineral density scan (looking for osteopenia or osteoporosis) and your vitamin D levels checked! Also take CALCIUM - now and forever!
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Old 06-26-09, 06:57 PM   #20
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How about your sleep - is it adequate and restful? Any snoring?
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Old 06-26-09, 10:53 PM   #21
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Fun. Don't forget to put "fun" into your exercise program. You'll relax more and look forward to having fun. You may be overusing some muscles after a long period of neglect. I'd add, put in a variety of exercises to prevent overuse.

Enjoy the ride.
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Old 06-26-09, 10:59 PM   #22
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Congratulations on your progress.

There are two things that can make your legs hurt. The more familiar one is fatigue - when you lift the same weight over and over, eventually your arms start to hurt. As you get stronger, this one happens less.

The one that I think you are running into is an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. If you exercise at easy levels, your body can easily remove the lactic acid that is produced, but as you work out harder, you reach a point where it accumulates in your muscles and it hurts. This happens to all of us when we push it, so welcome to the club.

I have two suggestions.

First, riding for longer periods (focusing on how long you ride is more important than how far), and trying to ride at an easier exertion level. Second, for hills, the lowest gear that you can find is a good idea, though you'll have to learn to ride slower. If you're in your lowest gear, a bike shop may be able to modify your bike to give you a lower gear.
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