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Did I blow my legs up or am I just a wuss?

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Did I blow my legs up or am I just a wuss?

Old 08-23-14, 01:24 PM
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Did I blow my legs up or am I just a wuss?

I've been riding consistently for about a month. I started with my wife who averages about 10mph... then I went out on my own and averaged just over 12mph over 20 miles and the next day about the same over 16... but my legs were done at that point. I could barely walk. So I took a few days off and tried to do shorter stuff. Now i'm finding that I'm really pushing to stay at 12mph and my legs are burning like crazy. Some of this is probably because i'm trying to push myself to harder cadence but is it possible that I pushed myself too hard and damaged the muscle too much?
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Old 08-23-14, 01:28 PM
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I won't say HTFU. I would say go at 10 mph for longer time. Once you can do that without pain or difficulty, add more speed OR time.
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Old 08-23-14, 01:30 PM
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No it's most unlikely that you've done any damage.

Ypu need to be clear about what you mean by "harder cadence". Do you mean higher cadence, which means pedalling faster but in a lower gear for a given speed, or harder pressure on the pedals, which generally means a higher gear, pedalling slower, for the same speed?

If your legs are burning it's probably the latter, and you're trying to push too big a gear. Change down spin the pedals a bit faster.

And be patient. Don't worry about speed, just build up your time on the bike. Stamina and, later, speed, will come naturally.
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Old 08-23-14, 01:56 PM
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Take a couple of days off and don't ride at all. It will give your muscles time to heal and you will be good to go.
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Old 08-23-14, 02:42 PM
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Ride shorter with light pressure on the pedals. Speed should not matter. As you build your base you will get faster and stronger. Since you already tried taking a few days off I think it is doubtful you have damaged yourself and does sound to me that you are trying too hard of a gear.
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Old 08-23-14, 03:06 PM
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If my seat is too low, my quads kill me. My knees aren't too friendly either. Too high, the tendons behind the knee gripe, as do my hips. But if I'm in a narrow range of 'correct', no pain beyond reasonable soreness. Something to look at?
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Old 08-23-14, 04:37 PM
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how many miles total have you logged? I didn't do my first 20 mile until about 6 weeks in about over 200 miles total. I would say you prob just need to recover from doing more. I went hiking 2 weekends ago and had to take 3 days off of riding because I was so sore. Get plenty of rest and the 20 will come without any issues and no soreness the next day.
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Old 08-23-14, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
No it's most unlikely that you've done any damage.

Ypu need to be clear about what you mean by "harder cadence". Do you mean higher cadence, which means pedalling faster but in a lower gear for a given speed, or harder pressure on the pedals, which generally means a higher gear, pedalling slower, for the same speed?

If your legs are burning it's probably the latter, and you're trying to push too big a gear. Change down spin the pedals a bit faster.

And be patient. Don't worry about speed, just build up your time on the bike. Stamina and, later, speed, will come naturally.
My harder I mean faster... less pressure faster legs. But my endurance can't handle that kind of cardio over that distance. Whoever said that I was pushing too hard when I first went out was right. pushing hard for anything but a short hill seems to blow my legs out in a way that hurts for a couple of days. I've been trying to remedy this but it seems that i'm going slower overall. I suppose it could just be that I've always had more strength than endurance so teaching my legs to cycle "right"(using a quick steady cadence on a easy gear) will take some time.
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Old 08-23-14, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by salreus
how many miles total have you logged? I didn't do my first 20 mile until about 6 weeks in about over 200 miles total. I would say you prob just need to recover from doing more. I went hiking 2 weekends ago and had to take 3 days off of riding because I was so sore. Get plenty of rest and the 20 will come without any issues and no soreness the next day.
I did my first 20 having logged about 50 miles total the 3 weeks previous. I've been aiming for 70 miles / week every since.
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Old 08-23-14, 07:17 PM
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I remember the same thing happening to me when I first started riding. Read spinning is better than mashing so I tried to keep a higher cadence, but was only able to keep it up for so long. Then I would have to go back to my natural cadence. However, I really haven't tried to keep a higher cadence as much as try to use gears where I spin more on purpose. And by doing that, I natural cadence has increased. when I first started, I was about 65 rmp and I just finished my 30 miles today with an average of 80 rpm. Learning how to use my gears and realizing that spinning up a hill recovers quicker than mashing has made all the difference. Now I feel more comfortable spinning but it did take time before I had the endurance to do it for a longer time.
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Old 08-23-14, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut
Ride shorter with light pressure on the pedals. Speed should not matter. As you build your base you will get faster and stronger.
^ this. Work on building that base with easy miles, have fun.
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Old 08-23-14, 07:47 PM
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Many good points here. Keep in mind that regular riding builds up fatigue even if not pushing it. That built up fatigue is a reminder that you need to take rest days and don't push it every ride.. If I ride every couple of days I can ride faster than if I ride every day.
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Old 08-24-14, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by AcousticRanger
My harder I mean faster... less pressure faster legs. But my endurance can't handle that kind of cardio over that distance. Whoever said that I was pushing too hard when I first went out was right. pushing hard for anything but a short hill seems to blow my legs out in a way that hurts for a couple of days. I've been trying to remedy this but it seems that i'm going slower overall. I suppose it could just be that I've always had more strength than endurance so teaching my legs to cycle "right"(using a quick steady cadence on a easy gear) will take some time.
Yes, it will.

Don't be in too much of a hurry. Those who encourage new, unfit cyclists to ride at high cadences mean well, but often miss the point that you have grasped, namely that one can't maintain a high cadence until one's cardio fitness has improved enough to do so.

Mix it up. If you're starting to get breathless, change to a higher gear and slow the cadence. If your legs are starting to burn, change down and spin for a while. It's all good, you'll gradually find yourself being able to cope with much longer efforts.
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Old 08-24-14, 11:53 PM
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I think you're just a wuss! That being said I'm basically in the same boat as you. I've been riding about a month and a half now and for a while there my legs felt weaker everyday. But it's getting better now but I still ride in pain most days I started doing intervals and that is truly rough every time (3 times a week.) But I can feel the improvement so I'm staying with it. These guys who have posted above know of what they speak, take their advice and be all the better for it.
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Old 08-25-14, 05:55 AM
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Things will get better the more you ride. I remember my first 20+ mile ride. The first 2 weekends my wife and I ended up taking 3 hr naps after. Then i didn't need any naps. Now I rode 30 miles last two weekends and could keep on the day as if I didn't ride. I get fatigued now but not sore.
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Old 08-25-14, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by AcousticRanger
I've been riding consistently for about a month. I started with my wife who averages about 10mph... then I went out on my own and averaged just over 12mph over 20 miles and the next day about the same over 16... but my legs were done at that point. I could barely walk. So I took a few days off and tried to do shorter stuff. Now i'm finding that I'm really pushing to stay at 12mph and my legs are burning like crazy. Some of this is probably because i'm trying to push myself to harder cadence but is it possible that I pushed myself too hard and damaged the muscle too much?
CONGRATS!
AWESOME PROGRESS!


Originally Posted by spdracr39
Take a couple of days off and don't ride at all. It will give your muscles time to heal and you will be good to go.
This can work.
If it hurts a lot very short slow spin with very light pedal pressure (so rather slow ride). Increase blood/fluid flows improve healing.
Epsom Salt bath... Stretching. NSAIDS are good for short duration, like less then 3 days.

This is the pain they talk about. In the "No pain, No gain" crowd. DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Two distinct kinds second day and third day DOMS. They have different characteristics, but if you get 3 day DOMS, likely you've had 2 day DOMS as well.

But studies show you can make better long term progress by not seeking it out... Some will happen.

Just keep it on the good pain side, and rigorously avoid bad pain.

Originally Posted by bbeasley
^ this. Work on building that base with easy miles, have fun.
FUN!
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Old 08-25-14, 10:16 AM
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First it sounds like to me you are pushing too hard too fast. You are not going to get instant results, ease into cycling and build your endurance and strength overtime. My other advice, forget about speed. It means absolutely nothing. If you want to concentrate on numbers then look at your cadence and distance, but even then in the beginning you should be listening to what you body is telling you and not the bike computer.

With that said one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet (all great comments), was nutrition. Are you eating and hydrating properly before these cycling sessions? Basically your legs could give out if they are out of fuel, much like the engine in your car will quit if the gas tank is empty.

Rest between sessions is important, I feel the best (i.e. strongest) with a day or two between long sessions then trying to go back to back days. Also keep in mind 3-4 medium length sessions per week is better than one super long session.
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Old 08-25-14, 10:40 AM
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After a hard ride, its best to go out for an easy short ride (<1 hr) followed by stretching. Pick a nice flat route and just take a nice cruise. You want to maintain a nice steady cadence (~80 rpm) in a nice easy gear. The most important thing is that it feels easy and natural. The purpose of a recovery ride is to work the lactic acid out of your muscles.

For the first 15 minutes, your legs will ache and it will suck. After you get off the bike you'll feel far better than you did before you started.
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Old 08-25-14, 10:55 AM
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Are you using clipless pedals or at least straps? Reason I ask is one thing that can cause the situation you describe is when your foot is not positioned properly on the pedal, leading you to pedal inefficiently, etc.

The pain you describe is certainly not unheard of. I got back into cycling in '08 following a great excursion cycling the Sonoma Coast on a guided tour. We did around 20-30 miles daily. While that's nothing for me now, at that time, I would lie in bed with searing leg muscles. I still sometimes get muscle pain because I'm not able to ride as often as I was because of work commitments, but I can usually "take care of it" with a shorter recovery ride the next day.

Give it some time, rest a day or two after a hard ride and ramp up again based on how your body is responding. Good luck!
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Old 08-25-14, 11:41 AM
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Hi, AcousticRanger - Lots of good advice in this thread. I'm not an expert on anything but myself, and somewhat doubtful about even that, but one thing you could try is to get a fluid trainer so you can do some practice inside where the A/C and fans are. One benefit is that you can work on your rhythm and spin without distraction AND you can do it in moderate bursts. Apply your learning on the trainer, at the same time improving your stamina, and then put it into practice on the road. It also has the benefit of never having to wonder if you're going to make it home.
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Old 08-31-14, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Dirt Road
Hi, AcousticRanger - Lots of good advice in this thread. I'm not an expert on anything but myself, and somewhat doubtful about even that, but one thing you could try is to get a fluid trainer so you can do some practice inside where the A/C and fans are. One benefit is that you can work on your rhythm and spin without distraction AND you can do it in moderate bursts. Apply your learning on the trainer, at the same time improving your stamina, and then put it into practice on the road. It also has the benefit of never having to wonder if you're going to make it home.
I'm looking for a trainer... until today I didn't know fluid trainers existed. What is the benefit over a mag trainer? I can imagine that a slow speed the mag has potential for jerkiness but I would assume that it smooths out as the tire gets moving.
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Old 08-31-14, 07:31 AM
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I'll have to let somebody else talk about the magnetic trainers, as I've never used one, but what I like about the fluid trainer is that's it's an almost linear drag. In other words, the "pull back" is pretty constant, so the effort to be expended depends on what gear you're in. This makes it easy to make it harder or easier on the fly. With that said, I tend to use the gears where my drivetrain is the quietest.

Mine is the CycleOps with the flywheel on the right. You can find some videos on Youtube of it. The newer model has the entire kinetic unit mounted in rubber. It should be a lot quieter.

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Old 08-31-14, 08:57 AM
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Been using a fluid trainer for years and love it (for as much as one can love cycling in one spot for hours). It works well and is quiet, which was my primary reason for choosing fluid initially. I liked the idea of being able to change the resistance with the Magnetic system, but lower sound won the day.
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Old 09-03-14, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Ernest_T_Bass
I think you're just a wuss! That being said I'm basically in the same boat as you. I've been riding about a month and a half now and for a while there my legs felt weaker everyday. But it's getting better now but I still ride in pain most days I started doing intervals and that is truly rough every time (3 times a week.) But I can feel the improvement so I'm staying with it. These guys who have posted above know of what they speak, take their advice and be all the better for it.
All the coaches that push intervals for bike performance, emphasize base miles prior to adopting intervals.

Haven't seen recommendations for just plan health improvement though.

Last year I figured a couple thousand mile year following a few years of around a thousand or so... would be base miles. 2 month medical layoff ( gout and cold weather, as well as BP med Russian roulette) with only like 50-100 miles month.

Well, the coaches, as well as all the good people here were right in spades. I rapidly over-reached, it's before over-training in trained people, but for me, well it hit hard. Fortunately, I dialed it back and recovered enough for the event. A 200k brevet hilly for me, where my goal was not to finish in time, but to just make the miles.

So please listen to your body, if you get tired, depressed, a persistent cold, demotivated, and etc. please dial it back a while to preserve you gains... Pushing more, well, be pleasant, nor profitable.

I'm restarting after another 1,200. Wish me luck...
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