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Is it asking too much, or just a matter of conditioning?

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Is it asking too much, or just a matter of conditioning?

Old 01-08-14, 01:54 PM
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thelazywon
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Is it asking too much, or just a matter of conditioning?

My commute is 20 miles each way, I'm in Honolulu, so it's flat to gentle rolling hills. I'm 36 years old, and have been riding 20 miles a day for quite a while.

I have been taking the bus to work and cycling home for a long time, but over the past month I have been trying to cycle both ways.

I started 1 day on week 1, 3 days on week 2, and this is week 3, I was trying for all 5. Mon and Tues weren't too bad, but I woke up this morning and my legs were exhausted and sore. Much to my chagrin I took the bus this A.M. After 800 mg of motrin, I'm feeling a little better, and will hydrate and cycle home in the afternoon.

Am I asking too much of myself to do 40 miles round trip 5 days a week? Will this be something I can maintain? Should I just do something like cycling both ways Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then just the afternoon trip on Tuesday and Thursday?

What are your thoughts/experiences?
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Old 01-08-14, 01:59 PM
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It may take more time to acclimate to your mileage than you've given yourself. For a healthy 36 year old, 40 miles a day is not asking to much if your body is ready for that mileage. My advice would be to drop back to the last level at which you felt comfortable and ride that routine for a bit longer and then add just one more trip per week until you were comfortable with that. Don't be in a hurry to bump it up. You'll get there.
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Old 01-08-14, 02:12 PM
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I started bicycle commuting when I lived 18 miles away from my office. I commuted both ways, nearly every day, without issue.

After about a year of that, I switched jobs to an office 26 miles away. I tried riding it every day and was worn out by Thursday. I found that making Tuesdays and Thursdays recovery days worked out best for me. Since my wife and I only had one car, if she needed the van, I still had to get to work, so Tuesdays and Thursdays meant riding just a few miles to the bus stop.

I think the biggest factor for me was that my old commute was practically flat while there are more hills, now. I had an accident in Spring of 2012 and was off the bike for almost a year. Initially, I was riding to work and then taking the bus home. It took me several months of riding to farther bus stops, each week to build back up to my full commute, both ways, three days a week.

Perhaps it's a pacing thing. Taking it a little easier might allow you to stretch it out, over the whole week. I've not tried this, but it sounds promising.

I'm 47 years old.
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Old 01-08-14, 02:24 PM
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Like NOS88 said you just need to increase the mileage more gradually. A 100% increase in weekly mileage over 3 weeks is too much for most people to handle, especially without rest days mixed in.

Back off on mileage a little and your pace too if you have to and build it up over a few more weeks.
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Old 01-08-14, 02:39 PM
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Thanks guys. I was getting a little worried because all of the people I'm surrounded by act like it's impossible. Of course, they acted like riding 20 miles home in the afternoon was impossible too.

Glad to hear that it's definitely obtainable, I may just need to ease into it a little slower. Maybe I'll take today as a rest day, then try for the Thursday and Friday round trip.
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Old 01-08-14, 03:21 PM
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+1 on working up to it, and designating an easy day or two during the week.

Originally Posted by thelazywon View Post
I was getting a little worried because all of the people I'm surrounded by act like it's impossible.
Most people avoid physical exertion at all costs. Like Vizzini, they find it "inconceivable."
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Old 01-08-14, 03:58 PM
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You can do it. I'm 53 and commute 20 miles each way. I used to ride in the morning and then take the train in the evening. Then I started going halfway home on the train and ride the rest. Then the whole thing. You just need to work up to it more slowly.
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Old 01-08-14, 04:22 PM
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I only have to ride 20km (~12mi) each way, and people in my office are agog at the prospect. I've just had to accept that being a cycle commuter will mean being an odd duck by the standards of most others, but the gas savings and my resting heart rate (I'm also in my mid-30s) objectively confirm it's been a good choice. That said, 20 miles is a long commute, even by the standards of our strange clan of daily cyclists; that doesn't mean you can't do it, but it probably does mean you'll need to work up to it. I don't take rest days mid-week, but I definitely do choose a recovery pace on some days, and plan my day so I can spend as long as I feel I'll need on the ride. Resting for even a few minutes to have a drink or just enjoy the scenery can really help with mid-ride recharging. Short answer: it's a matter of conditioning, not asking too much.
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Old 01-08-14, 04:41 PM
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Definitely a conditioning thing. I have a 16-17 mile commute each way with about 450 feet of climbing. I bike both ways. When I first started I was sore and tired after one day and didn't commute two days in a row. I slowly worked up, 2 days in a row, 3 in a row, 4 in a row. I still haven't done all 5 days in a week, but largely for other factors as I think I physically could as long as I didn't push to hard every day.

I discovered progress didn't come as quickly as I wanted, and for a while I would be sore after a few days commuting. I felt like I made some quick gains in fitness the first month or so but then the improvements got slower.

Stick with it and don't be afraid to slow down, take a day off, or do mixed mode commuting some times.
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Old 01-08-14, 05:56 PM
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My commute is 21 miles each way. I learned quickly that I couldn't go hard every day. I got a HRM and had to teach myself to pace myself with Zone 2 rides instead of always riding Fartlek.
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Old 01-08-14, 06:11 PM
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That's a really good idea. I can't keep myself from doing intervals all the way home. Get a little tired, slow down, then feel like I'm going way too slow, hammer for awhile, rinse, repeat.
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Old 01-08-14, 06:29 PM
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40 miles a day is a lot of miles for a body to do. I agree you can do it, but it won't be easy suddenly. And you might not be eating and drinking enough. People who ride a lot eat a lot. They have to. The quantity required may even be shocking. Eat while you're off the bike and also while you're on the bike.
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Old 01-08-14, 06:38 PM
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I was just in Honolulu last week for a day, and it didn't seem like it was flat, although I didn't really see much from the freeway on the way from the airport to Shangri-la on the other side of Diamond Head.

I'd rather be there than here in the 10 degree cold.
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Old 01-08-14, 07:07 PM
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I think you need to build up a little more slowly. My dad started commuting 36 miles roundtrip 10 years ago when he was 60
He went from 2-3 days a week to regularly doing 4 days a week over the course of a few months if I remember correctly. Take
it a little slower and you should have no problem. I regularly do 5 days a week at 24 miles roundtrip with a couple of longer days thrown in, with a physically demanding job , and there are weeks that are better than others. I try to take it a little easier in the a.m. as there are no showers at work. But in the afternoon I'll switch between sprinting for lights and slowly increasing my cadence in higher gears.
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Old 01-08-14, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I was just in Honolulu last week for a day, and it didn't seem like it was flat, although I didn't really see much from the freeway on the way from the airport to Shangri-la on the other side of Diamond Head.

I'd rather be there than here in the 10 degree cold.
Well my commute is from The Queen's Medical Center to Ewa Beach. Most of it is along the Pearl Harbor Bike Path and Nimitz Bike Path. There are probably only about 6 or 7 actual hills along that route. If you start going mauka (mountain) side, it gets very hilly.
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Old 01-09-14, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
You can do it. I'm 53 and commute 20 miles each way. I used to ride in the morning and then take the train in the evening. Then I started going halfway home on the train and ride the rest. Then the whole thing. You just need to work up to it more slowly.
Also 53 and commute 64km roundtrip each day. It took a while to get nutrition down so I didn't get fatigued but I think I have it worked out now. I just eat all day Some days I'll ride harder than others depending on how I feel. I usually end up driving one a day a week for one reason or another so usually average 4 days/wk of commuting.
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Old 01-09-14, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by DaHaMac View Post
My commute is 21 miles each way. I learned quickly that I couldn't go hard every day. I got a HRM and had to teach myself to pace myself with Zone 2 rides instead of always riding Fartlek.
This is the key to riding that kind of mileage 5 days in a row. Keep it to zone 2 with occasional spurts into zone 3. If you're going to do intervals try to have a rest day following them. Once you get really fit you can probably alternate fast and slow days (zone 2 is on the slow side FYI.) That is basically what racers do when they're training.
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Old 01-09-14, 03:38 AM
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Is it asking too much, or just a matter of conditioning?

Imo, it's more a case of going slow enough.
Compare with tourers who do twice that mileage day after day carrying 40 lbs of gear! Thing is they just plod along.
You even have 8 hours a day to rest and recuperate!
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Old 01-09-14, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by DaHaMac View Post
My commute is 21 miles each way. I learned quickly that I couldn't go hard every day. I got a HRM and had to teach myself to pace myself with Zone 2 rides instead of always riding Fartlek.
I love how you guys use that word

Sorry for the interruption, as you were.
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Old 01-09-14, 09:12 AM
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I think for the next couple of months I'm going to set Monday Wednesday and Friday as 40 mile days, and Tuesday Thursday as 20 mile days. That gives me some"lazy" time to look forward to each week. I think I need something like that as it's tough to convince myself it's smart to cycle 20 miles at 430 in the morning. If I have Tuesday and Thursday to veg out on the bus, it should give me the motivation I need right now.

As mentioned several times, I try to eat well but am also trying to lose weight. I'm about 30 pounds over my Army fighting weight and I've been slowly getting back trim. I love beer, and beer loves my gut! I need more fruit, but it's very expensive here. I make my own beer.
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Old 01-09-14, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by thelazywon View Post
I think for the next couple of months I'm going to set Monday Wednesday and Friday as 40 mile days, and Tuesday Thursday as 20 mile days. That gives me some"lazy" time to look forward to each week. I think I need something like that as it's tough to convince myself it's smart to cycle 20 miles at 430 in the morning. If I have Tuesday and Thursday to veg out on the bus, it should give me the motivation I need right now.

As mentioned several times, I try to eat well but am also trying to lose weight. I'm about 30 pounds over my Army fighting weight and I've been slowly getting back trim. I love beer, and beer loves my gut! I need more fruit, but it's very expensive here. I make my own beer.
Good plan. I wouldn't jump into a daily 40 miles round trip myself without working up to it and I've been commuting for years.

People will tell you it's crazy or impossible no matter what the distance is. I'd just ignore it, or accept as approbation for your awesomeness.
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Old 01-09-14, 10:25 AM
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45 y/o, started doing a 38 mi r/t commute about 8 years ago, along a hilly and flat route.

Started one day a week, next week two, next week three... There were a few weeks when I'd get in 5 or even 6 days (two jobs, same city), but most weeks, it was 2-4 days. There's no direct public transport for even part of the ride, so days I wasn't riding, I'd take our one car.

Pacing recovery days is important. My time on the road increased 5-10 mins as my legs wore down through the week. Bonus: eat like a pig! Downside: your body still wants all the food, even if you haven't been riding for a while, which can lead to putting on weight.

New job in Sep, 45 mi away, so my r/t commute is now 16 mi/day, 3 mi ride-- bus -- 5 mi ride. I'm enjoying the shorter rides. This Summer, I had planned to do the long r/t commute a few times, but things have changed, I will be moving, and I will definitely be choosing a place somewhere directly in between the two jobs I now have, 24 mi away from each other.
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Old 01-09-14, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
Imo, it's more a case of going slow enough.
Compare with tourers who do twice that mileage day after day carrying 40 lbs of gear! Thing is they just plod along.
You even have 8 hours a day to rest and recuperate!
+1. I forgot to mention that too. Slow down. I'm constantly amazed really at how much I can back off on the effort and still get to work within just a few minutes of a faster pace that feels like beating myself to death. Back off on the pace and make it an easy ride. Establish that as a comfortable baseline with no sore muscles. Do that for a couple weeks and then start turning the effort up depending on how driven you feel that day.
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Old 01-09-14, 03:19 PM
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Slow your pace. Riding hard every day is a recipe for over-training. I'm 60 and my commute is about 31 miles round-trip over hilly terrain. My goal is to ride every day but I average about 4 days a week due to bad weather and other complications. When I first started bike commuting 7 years, my route was about 20 miles RT and I got burned out by trying ride hard every day. I learned pretty quickly that I had to ride at a more modest pace if commuting regularly. When my commute distance increased by 50% two years ago, it took a few months to adjust but eventually I found it no more demanding than riding the shorter distance (except for the time factor).
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Old 01-11-14, 07:57 PM
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Aloha from Kakaako and Waikiki! I'm very impressed by your commute, keep it up! I wonder if the pain is not so much only the distance but the road conditions - the Pearl Harbor Bike path surface is really rough, I wonder if that is contributing to your wear and tear? Kam highway coming into town is not exactly a small hill, and neither is Radford, though it is short. What are you doing at Queens? If you're doing 40 mi of distance plus you're on your feet for a 12 or 14 hour day you might need to work in some additional light strength or bodyweight training to support the increased distance because you've got fatigue from the work day PLUS the ride to think about. Also, how is your water and electrolyte intake? I usually have to be very careful with this when training here (I am terrible about forgetting to hydrate), and with that much distance you probably need more than you think you do (I always do). Maybe add some coconut water in with your hydration on both rides? Add some Yoga or a similar low-impact stretching type exercise?
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