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Commuter Legs Getting Smoked!

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Commuter Legs Getting Smoked!

Old 04-24-13, 04:28 PM
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Beezus
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Commuter Legs Getting Smoked!

First Post!

Any advice for a newly converted commuter who's legs are getting smoked? I have been commuting for a month now, about 13 to 15 miles/day, and I feel like my legs are getting more and more tired every day. Even after taking the weekend off.

Is there anything I can do (aside from resting, not really an option) to help keep my legs/body in permanent commuting shape? I am loving the rides and I am going to stick with it. Just looking for something to make it a little more enjoyable.

Thanks!
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Old 04-24-13, 04:31 PM
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It takes time. Try going slower in the mornings, faster on the way home. Your ride in while serve as your recovery ride, and perhaps you will gain fitness a little faster from the harder PM efforts.

Depending on your bike, there may be some things that can be changed or adjusted to make it roll better.
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Old 04-24-13, 04:38 PM
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There may be an adjustment issue that could help with this problem - there's lots of good advise about proper saddle height etc that may help. Keeping your tires inflated and your chain lubed will also help reduce the effort required. But if it's just a "not yet in good shape" thing, then there's not a lot to be done but push through it until you are in good shape.
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Old 04-24-13, 04:39 PM
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I am riding a Surly Crosscheck and everything but the seat and my rear derailleur is stock (have a 105 in the back). Just about to throw some 23c Continentals on. Will try to take it easier on the morning ride.
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Old 04-24-13, 04:40 PM
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What are your recommendations for seat height? I have noticed my knees getting a little sore here and there and have wondered if that may be the culprit. I was told your seat should be set so your leg is at full extension at the bottom of your pedal cycle. Is that correct?
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Old 04-24-13, 04:44 PM
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Are you eating properly?
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Old 04-24-13, 04:49 PM
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I am sure I could do better there. Eating bananas, yogurt, and oatmeal daily. Then it's up for grabs lunch and dinner. Pizza, pasta, sandwiches, etc.
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Old 04-24-13, 04:55 PM
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I used to go downhill all week and somewhat recover over the weekend.

I found that especially in the summer I had to eat extra salt. I sweat a lot, and once I started dumping an extra packet or two of salt into my lunch every day, I was much less fatigued at the end of the week.
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Old 04-24-13, 04:56 PM
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Wow, interesting. Never would have thought of that. Will have to pay more attention to my sodium intake.
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Old 04-24-13, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Beezus View Post
What are your recommendations for seat height? I have noticed my knees getting a little sore here and there and have wondered if that may be the culprit. I was told your seat should be set so your leg is at full extension at the bottom of your pedal cycle. Is that correct?
You want your leg at full extension when the crank arm is parallel w/ the seat tube, which is to say when the pedal is at 6 o'clock you should have a bend in your knee.

In general I would recommend spending time in lower gears, make yourself go faster by pedalling faster rather than gearing up. You will tire your lungs/heart out (and build them up) rather than your legs that way.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:01 PM
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If your fit is okay, drinking and eating okay, then I'd guessing you're pushing yourself more with each ride, as you get stronger. Which is fine, but take a rest every other day for awhile. Meaning, ride your bike, but just noodle along at a speed that is practically effortless. 10 or 12 mph on the flat, maybe. Are there big hills or a constant headwind on your ride?
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Old 04-24-13, 07:08 PM
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Ok one month in, I'd say maybe take it down a notch at least temporarily. I have a 300 to 400 ft climb into work every day and for the first week or two, it kicked my ass every day because I went the most direct route. For the next couple months, I found a longer but less steep route. Now I'm back to the shorter route.

Regardless, keep it up and you'll be racing Cat6 in no time.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:17 PM
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I started riding and resting more. I started putting an extra 30-45 minutes on the bike a couple nights a week, rested on weekends, and took a day off or two every now and again during the week. Once my body got used to my 25 minute commute + 45 extra minutes, the commute itself became less of a problem.

I also found that a complete week of rest does wonders. I ride a ton in the week before I go on vacation, and don't ride at all while I'm gone. When I get back, I feel a lot stronger than I did before I left.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:19 PM
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First of all, extreme leg fatigue can result from having a low cadence. You may well be straining your muscles (small injuries that get inflamed). Raise your cadence to about 90 rpm or higher. You'll be doing the same amount of work, but with more power strokes to do it and thus lower peak loads. The higher your cadence, the more you are forced to use a clean, efficient pedal technique. If you're bouncing on your saddle, you're doing it wrong.

Secondly, if you can tolerate it, a bit of aspirin or other anti-inflammatory in the evenings might be in order. Inflamed tissues don't heal as quickly.

Last, but not least, if you want to do your commute in comfort then you're going to have to ride more than just your commute. If you have an eight mile one-way commute, you're never going to get fit enough to do that with ease if that is all you do. If you don't want to add some longer rides just yet, that's understandable. But you will eventually need something more.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:22 PM
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Is this round trip?

I usually have a kind of break in period when I start commuting again in the spring (18 miles RT), but after a couple of weeks I'm usually in good shape again. So I do think it's probably something other than the mileage, as others have suggested - like a fit issue with the bike. It could also be that you're just pushing too hard...I don't have a lot of experience with that, as I tend to kind of take it easy on the ride.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:29 PM
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To get in shape for commuting I don't put in extra miles but I put in extra effort as my body says I can. I keep my spin rate the same but gear up and just hit it. Then the next ride (or maybe two) I ease off. Slowly over a period of time my easy rides are a bit faster yet I don't notice it.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:40 PM
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For the first few months just set your goal of getting to work and back - Go slow - Especially in the morning - Make sure you get nutrition, Hydration and good circulation to your legs after your ride - In other words don't get trapped with your legs behind a desk cutting of circulation after your morning ride - Eat as soon as you get to work and home - Water Water Water - Try compression leggings for the soreness in your legs or just go get some cheap plus size womens compression leggings and wear them in the evening (no high heels required) - Commuting is worth cometment...
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Old 04-24-13, 07:43 PM
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Restating what's already been said, slow down. You're riding for transportation now, not sport. Give yourself some time to get used to the commute!
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Old 04-24-13, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by arsprod View Post
Restating what's already been said, slow down. You're riding for transportation now, not sport. Give yourself some time to get used to the commute!
I know I find that hard to do.... have to force myself. I want to turn it into a personal race.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:50 PM
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Beezus, if all the other factors brought up thus far are okay- diet (alcohol consumption can have a negative effect as well), staying hydrated, sleep, bike fit, if its really troubling you- have you had a physical in the last couple of years with blood work? etc. And if your job is not the issue- are you on your feet all day? Is it a physical job?

If all of the above is okay...

I'd actually recommend more miles per week for a couple of weeks. Do some "training" recreational rides. Do a 35 miler or more one weekend at pretty strong pace. One nice evening after work do an extra 10 miles. Do a few of those over the next couple of weeks. You'll suffer a bit more and then taper back to your regular mileage and see how you feel then.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:04 PM
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strength training on the legs on days you're not riding.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:28 PM
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HTFU. google it.

Edit:
That was a bit rough for the commuting board. So I should explain. It just a way of saying you keep pushing your self. I think you're using it as an exercise opportunity. 13-15 miles a day is not something an untrained body adapts to in a month. 75 miles per week is strong effort. As your body strengthens you keep pushing it harder with no time to really recover and adapt. Can you take a week where you only ride in 2 times for that single week?

In time your body will adapt, but be sure to feed, hydrate and suppliment(if neeeded) properly. Ensure you have a bike that fits. get in a 30 miler on the weekend and soon you will feel like your 15 miler is a breeze. but it takes some time to recover and adapt.

Last edited by Vlaam4ever; 04-24-13 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 04-24-13, 09:03 PM
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You need to stretch. And 1-2 minutes isn't enough. 15 minutes-45 minutes a day yoga imo. Eat banannas. And take rest days.
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Old 04-25-13, 07:15 AM
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There is good advice here.

Seat height
Nutrition
Cadence (don't mash and don't spin)

FYI... Its takes my leg muscles around 4 - 5 miles before they start to get in the zone of strength and endurance. It is very noticeable when this happens. Let your muscles warm up and don't go 100% right out of the door.
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Old 04-25-13, 07:58 AM
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Proper rest, hydration, and food, good start. My commute is 18 miles one way, 2 - 6 trips per week, plus mt biking on the weekends. Is your gearing low enough if you have big hills?
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