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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Recovery and training advice for distance

Old 05-08-18, 10:52 AM
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herzogone
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Recovery and training advice for distance

I'm pretty new to longer rides, having only done a few greater than 50 miles as of the last couple years. Recently, I did a couple randonneuring events (100k, 200k) where I finished but suffered significant discomfort, so I'm seeking some guidance.

I suspect my biggest mistakes were too quick a jump in mileage, and maybe bike fit. I ride year round, but my mileage in winter is modest from only my short commute and Tabata intervals on a stationary bike, maybe 20-25 miles a week total. I only had time for one training ride before the 200k, about 52 miles mostly to test out my fit on a new (to me) bike. Slightly too much saddle height and possibly cleat position may have also contributed to IT band syndrome that I developed on the ride. The training ride was two weeks before the 200k so I stayed off the bike about a week. Despite lowering the saddle, when riding the 200k my IT band started hurting again within the first 10 miles. I was able to finish, but exertion caused pain so I spun up the modest hills in very low gears. Walking was quite painful and I limped considerably. Afterwards, I wondered if my cleat position was a problem as well. My previous distance rides had been on plain pedals. I swapped on some plain pedals stayed off the bike for a week again and then a couple weeks later rode a 100k. Again IT band soreness within the first few miles. Confirmed by a doctor visit as IT band syndrome and was advised to ramp up mileage more slowly. I stayed off the bike and avoided squats and deadlifts for a couple weeks. I've since resumed my short commuting and usual weightlifting without pain, but I'm nervous to try distances again. I'm especially looking for advice on how to get back to longer distances after ITB syndrome?

Additionally, I had noticeable neck fatigue towards the end of the rides, especially on the 200k. My neck was stiff and slightly sore for the week following each, despite my position on the bike being considerably more upright than most. The tops of my bars are slightly higher than the saddle and the reach is pretty short. Aside from the obvious IT band issue and the neck fatigue, I was otherwise pretty comfortable on the ride so I'm wondering if the neck issue is simply a matter of riding more to build the endurance of my neck muscles?
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Old 05-08-18, 11:12 AM
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I can't address the ITB syndrome, but I certainly found that I needed to build up to centuries and then 200Ks. Have you had a bike fitting done? With age, I've found that I've needed to go to a higher stem and shorter reach.
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Old 05-08-18, 11:44 AM
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You didn't ride and you didn't stretch and you didn't go to the gym. All bad things. Try doing these stretches:
IT Band pain (during ride)
every morning just before breakfast. Do them in the middle of every longish ride.

Get rid of your flats and put on clipless with stiff-soled shoes. The flats are a big part of the problem. Practice not pushing down with your clipless. Push forward, pull back, only concentrate on pushing down when in extremis on a short, very steep hill.

Riding more: slowly increase your weekly mileage. Start at 50 and ramp it up. When climbing, watch your cadence meter. When it drops to 90, downshift, drops to 90, downshift, etc., until you can hold the mid to lower 80s or you run out of gears. Stand every 10 minutes, by the clock.


Check your saddle height using the heel-on-pedal method: Saddle height: How to get it right, and why it's so important (video)
while wearing your new clipless shoes.

Once you have this saddle height, while pedaling concentrate on pedaling with the heel cups with your ankle as relaxed as it will let you. Feel the heel cups all the way around the stroke.

On your trainer, put the bike in a very low gear and attempt to pedal at a 120 cadence. If you can't do that, take it up to where you start bouncing and hold just below that point for 15 minutes to start with. Do this once a week. Shoot for being able to hold 115+ for a solid 45 minutes, no break. Then you'll know how to pedal and be able to ride a 300.

More bike fit - look like this woman:

and set your bike up and get flexible so that you can do what she can do.

Note that all these suggestions are based on using clipless. People do brevets on flats, true, but they could also do them clipless no problem. For them, it's a choice. For you, not.
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Old 05-08-18, 12:14 PM
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^^That seems like pretty good advice to me.

Neck pain is familiar to me and, I assume, all of us. My neck was my main complaint when I did my first centuries. It gets better with practice, partly (I assume) because the muscles get stronger, and partly (I assume) you have to learn to avoid it. The way to avoid pain on the bike, once you have the fit somewhere near correct, is to move around a lot. Move your hands around the handlebar. Stand up for some of the climbing; sit and spin for some of the climbing. Do an aero tuck for some of the descending. Spend some time looking at the clouds, and look behind you every now and then. And so on. Don't ever let your body settle into one position for too long.

I mention this apropos neck pain, but it will help you to avoid all kinds of pain, hand pain, arm pain, saddle pain, whatever.
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Old 05-08-18, 01:19 PM
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For me, adding lifting was the key for neck pain, but if you're already lifting it might not help. (Shrugs, farmers walk, bent-over rows were the things I added specifically to target the same muscles as get tired being in riding position.)
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Old 05-08-18, 05:10 PM
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foam rollers also work for ITB. I have to use straps on my knee for patella tracking issues related to my ITB. KT tape also helps for that.

Pushups really help me for neck pain. I also get arm pain at the elbow, and pushups are good for that too. I have found that doing them on stairs makes it more palatable.
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Old 05-08-18, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
I can't address the ITB syndrome, but I certainly found that I needed to build up to centuries and then 200Ks. Have you had a bike fitting done? With age, I've found that I've needed to go to a higher stem and shorter reach.
I appreciate the suggestion, I haven't gone for a fitting. I've always just based my fit on a few basic guidelines and generally what I've found comfortable over the years. Of course, I was doing mostly shorter rides previously so I suppose I should try a fitting.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
You didn't ride and you didn't stretch and you didn't go to the gym. All bad things. Try doing these stretches:
IT Band pain (during ride)
every morning just before breakfast. Do them in the middle of every longish ride.

Get rid of your flats and put on clipless with stiff-soled shoes. The flats are a big part of the problem. Practice not pushing down with your clipless. Push forward, pull back, only concentrate on pushing down when in extremis on a short, very steep hill.

Riding more: slowly increase your weekly mileage. Start at 50 and ramp it up. When climbing, watch your cadence meter. When it drops to 90, downshift, drops to 90, downshift, etc., until you can hold the mid to lower 80s or you run out of gears. Stand every 10 minutes, by the clock.


Check your saddle height using the heel-on-pedal method: Saddle height: How to get it right, and why it's so important (video)
while wearing your new clipless shoes.

Once you have this saddle height, while pedaling concentrate on pedaling with the heel cups with your ankle as relaxed as it will let you. Feel the heel cups all the way around the stroke.

On your trainer, put the bike in a very low gear and attempt to pedal at a 120 cadence. If you can't do that, take it up to where you start bouncing and hold just below that point for 15 minutes to start with. Do this once a week. Shoot for being able to hold 115+ for a solid 45 minutes, no break. Then you'll know how to pedal and be able to ride a 300.

More bike fit - look like this woman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z04uoO7U_SA

and set your bike up and get flexible so that you can do what she can do.

Note that all these suggestions are based on using clipless. People do brevets on flats, true, but they could also do them clipless no problem. For them, it's a choice. For you, not.
Sorry, my wording was ambiguous. The not riding or doing squats/DLs was only after the ITB injury had occurred. Initially I was just going with my gut, but this was later confirmed as the right thing to do by the sports medicine doc who diagnosed it. In fact, he said the problem was that I hadn't let it heal and confirmed that too quick an increase in mileage could be to blame. I should have done stretching as you suggested though, and I have since the diagnosis. Thanks for the link also.

I was using clipless pedals (SPD) for both the training ride and the 200k this year. I suspect I had the cleat setup wrong though. I naively positioned them with my feet straight ahead, not considering that I naturally have a slight duck stance, which from what I've read since suggests I should have adjusted the cleats to match. It is apparently known to cause the type of ITB syndrome I experienced, at the outside back of the knee. When I said my previous distance rides were on plain pedals, I meant previous years. I never had any ITB pain then, but my previous years distance rides were also a less abrupt increase in mileage, coming later in the season. I switched to plain pedals this time just before the 100k to revert to what worked before, but I suspect I simply hadn't recovered from the injury enough yet, though it was slightly less painful than previous.

Thanks for the video suggestions, the heel-on-pedal method is the one I already use for saddle height. I also typically use KOPS as a basic guideline for saddle setback though I realize it has no scientific basis. I might be mistaken about the saddle height even having been a factor, but I lowered it a bit below full extension with heel-on-pedal after the training ride just in case.

I really appreciate the training advice, thanks.

Originally Posted by rhm View Post
^^That seems like pretty good advice to me.

Neck pain is familiar to me and, I assume, all of us. My neck was my main complaint when I did my first centuries. It gets better with practice, partly (I assume) because the muscles get stronger, and partly (I assume) you have to learn to avoid it. The way to avoid pain on the bike, once you have the fit somewhere near correct, is to move around a lot. Move your hands around the handlebar. Stand up for some of the climbing; sit and spin for some of the climbing. Do an aero tuck for some of the descending. Spend some time looking at the clouds, and look behind you every now and then. And so on. Don't ever let your body settle into one position for too long.

I mention this apropos neck pain, but it will help you to avoid all kinds of pain, hand pain, arm pain, saddle pain, whatever.
Thanks for the feedback. While I think I'm pretty good about moving my hands around all the usual parts of the drops, you made me realize my neck issue may have been partly made worse by the ITB issue since it hurt too much to stand at all on climbs, which I frequently do otherwise. I will definitely try to look around more also. I'm glad to hear that it can get better with practice.

Originally Posted by antimonysarah View Post
For me, adding lifting was the key for neck pain, but if you're already lifting it might not help. (Shrugs, farmers walk, bent-over rows were the things I added specifically to target the same muscles as get tired being in riding position.)
Thanks for the input, I suspect something along those lines could work for me. I've been doing Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program (BBB variation) for a few years now. It is based around deadlift, overhead press, squat, and bench press. Of the ones you listed, I do bent-over rows already. My neck fatigue is mostly in the back of the neck above my traps. I'll definitely try adding some additional exercises.

Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
foam rollers also work for ITB. I have to use straps on my knee for patella tracking issues related to my ITB. KT tape also helps for that.

Pushups really help me for neck pain. I also get arm pain at the elbow, and pushups are good for that too. I have found that doing them on stairs makes it more palatable.
I appreciate the suggestions. I'll try to pick up a foam roller. Pushups sound pretty logical for the type of neck fatigue I get. Maybe planks as well.
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Old 05-08-18, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by herzogone View Post
<snip>
I appreciate the suggestions. I'll try to pick up a foam roller. Pushups sound pretty logical for the type of neck fatigue I get. Maybe planks as well.
Another thing which works for some people for neck issues is slightly changing their position:
Riding Position Discovery
Works like a charm for many people.

Also shrugs, and all the dumbbell stuff: seated presses, lateral raises, front raises, bent-over (rear delt) raises. I super set the raises all same weight - quicker.

Since one can't stretch an ITB, the pain seems to come from where tendons/ligaments cross it, and thus I believe it's really swollen bursa. So with a foam roller, one is rolling those bursa which of course hurts like hell. Those stretches are designed to stretch the tendons around the knees. The ham stretches are particularly important. It takes a while for much to happen, maybe a month to really clear it up. Good luck.
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Old 05-08-18, 10:50 PM
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A rule of thumb is don't ride more in a day than you regularly do in a week.

Another rule of thumb is don't change anything going in to a big ride. Equipment, fit, food, etc.

Of course there are exceptions. Don't count on being an exception.

Ramp your miles up slowly. As problems arise with longer rides, sort them out before progressing. With each distance, learn how to finish that distance well hydrated, well fueled, and feeling good. Then move up.
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Old 05-09-18, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
A rule of thumb is don't ride more in a day than you regularly do in a week.

Another rule of thumb is don't change anything going in to a big ride. Equipment, fit, food, etc.

Of course there are exceptions. Don't count on being an exception.

Ramp your miles up slowly. As problems arise with longer rides, sort them out before progressing. With each distance, learn how to finish that distance well hydrated, well fueled, and feeling good. Then move up.
That first rule falls apart at 300k. No, you don't have to ride 300k in a week to do a 300k and up. 150 miles/week is really all you need, but one ride needs to be 4 hours or so with hard hill efforts, way beyond what you'd do on a brevet. You should be hardly able to walk at the end. You need to really draw it down, because that's how you build glycogen stores. If all you do is ride a lot slowly, you get good at riding a lot slowly.
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Old 05-09-18, 01:35 PM
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Everyone has offered pretty good advice here. I went from riding 200k's with IT band pain for 100 of the 125 miles, to being able to ride a 1200k IT-band trouble free. A lot of it for me was being hyper-cognizant of my pedaling, careful cleat placement, saddle height/tilt/etc, stretching often / during brevets, using "The Stick" to roll out my legs frequently, and realizing that staying off the bike without doing stretches and such doesn't actually help you recover. I needed to take a very active role in managing my knees, because I found the problem would rear its ugly head on the next ride.

For a little bit, I was suffering from flip-flopping IT-band problems. Lower the saddle; it's the left side. Raise the saddle; now the right hurts. Eventually I put a BikeFit leg-length shim in my shoe and it has seemed to help. I only feel a bit of a flare-up if it's an exceptionally nasty elevation profile and I'm getting fatigued and sloppy with my pedaling technique; spin-it-to-win-it has become my new motto of late.

I have shied away from professional fits for a few reasons, the primary one being financial. But also, I'm also nervous because my position that I've settled on has been refined and micro-tweaked after tons of brevets, and now I can do a 1200k. If it ain't broke...
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Old 05-09-18, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Another thing which works for some people for neck issues is slightly changing their position:
Riding Position Discovery
Works like a charm for many people.

Also shrugs, and all the dumbbell stuff: seated presses, lateral raises, front raises, bent-over (rear delt) raises. I super set the raises all same weight - quicker.

Since one can't stretch an ITB, the pain seems to come from where tendons/ligaments cross it, and thus I believe it's really swollen bursa. So with a foam roller, one is rolling those bursa which of course hurts like hell. Those stretches are designed to stretch the tendons around the knees. The ham stretches are particularly important. It takes a while for much to happen, maybe a month to really clear it up. Good luck.
Thanks for the follow up, I will focus on riding position more. I have been doing the stretches suggested by my doctor which feel like they target the right area. They are variations of hamstring stretches as you suggested. I'm fortunate my pain was gone after a week of rest, but I want to make sure it doesn't come back. I've since fully resumed my usual riding and lifting. I already do circuits for my volume lifting, but I plan to add in some of the suggested exercises as well.

Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
A rule of thumb is don't ride more in a day than you regularly do in a week.

Another rule of thumb is don't change anything going in to a big ride. Equipment, fit, food, etc.

Of course there are exceptions. Don't count on being an exception.

Ramp your miles up slowly. As problems arise with longer rides, sort them out before progressing. With each distance, learn how to finish that distance well hydrated, well fueled, and feeling good. Then move up.
I've never heard the mileage rule of thumb, but it sounds reasonable to me. I think I've proven I'm not an exception I was aware of the equipment change rule, it was my primary motivation for the training ride. I had ridden the bike previously, but only shorter distances where I didn't develop ITB pain. Thanks for the tips.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
That first rule falls apart at 300k. No, you don't have to ride 300k in a week to do a 300k and up. 150 miles/week is really all you need, but one ride needs to be 4 hours or so with hard hill efforts, way beyond what you'd do on a brevet. You should be hardly able to walk at the end. You need to really draw it down, because that's how you build glycogen stores. If all you do is ride a lot slowly, you get good at riding a lot slowly.
In his defense, I think most rules of thumb don't apply to all situations, but thanks for the clarification. I should clarify that my training goals are simply to be able to finish a 200k without pain, I'm not too interested in improving my speed substantially, at least not over my non-injured speed. I might someday attempt a 300k, but I don't have any aspirations of completing an SR series.

Originally Posted by seajaye View Post
Everyone has offered pretty good advice here. I went from riding 200k's with IT band pain for 100 of the 125 miles, to being able to ride a 1200k IT-band trouble free. A lot of it for me was being hyper-cognizant of my pedaling, careful cleat placement, saddle height/tilt/etc, stretching often / during brevets, using "The Stick" to roll out my legs frequently, and realizing that staying off the bike without doing stretches and such doesn't actually help you recover. I needed to take a very active role in managing my knees, because I found the problem would rear its ugly head on the next ride.

For a little bit, I was suffering from flip-flopping IT-band problems. Lower the saddle; it's the left side. Raise the saddle; now the right hurts. Eventually I put a BikeFit leg-length shim in my shoe and it has seemed to help. I only feel a bit of a flare-up if it's an exceptionally nasty elevation profile and I'm getting fatigued and sloppy with my pedaling technique; spin-it-to-win-it has become my new motto of late.

I have shied away from professional fits for a few reasons, the primary one being financial. But also, I'm also nervous because my position that I've settled on has been refined and micro-tweaked after tons of brevets, and now I can do a 1200k. If it ain't broke...
Thanks for sharing, this gives me hope and confirms what others have suggested. Spin-to-win was the only way I even finished the 200k, walking or standing hurt severely by the halfway point, but I could still spin gently. Used a 28-32 ratio on most of the mild hills I can relate to the reluctance about professional fitting, I don't have a lot of disposable income. My plan is to consult my preferred laid-back LBS for some general fit advice given my goals, not go in for one of the "system" fits. If I were in your situation, I would definitely do as you are and not mess with it.
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Old 05-09-18, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by herzogone View Post
I appreciate the suggestions. I'll try to pick up a foam roller. Pushups sound pretty logical for the type of neck fatigue I get. Maybe planks as well.
Pushups and planks are great too. If you get lower back pain/tiredness they help with that too/even more than the neck stuff, plus stuff like glute bridges/bird dogs.
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Old 05-09-18, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
That first rule falls apart at 300k. No, you don't have to ride 300k in a week to do a 300k and up.
Can't disagree with that.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
150 miles/week is really all you need, but one ride needs to be 4 hours or so with hard hill efforts, way beyond what you'd do on a brevet. You should be hardly able to walk at the end. You need to really draw it down, because that's how you build glycogen stores. If all you do is ride a lot slowly, you get good at riding a lot slowly.
I'm with you, but that's about my goals. Some people want to ride a leisurely pace, and my hat's off to them for having the nerve to run close to time cutoffs. If the OP just wants to finish, slow and steady and smart will get the job done.
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Old 05-11-18, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by antimonysarah View Post
Pushups and planks are great too. If you get lower back pain/tiredness they help with that too/even more than the neck stuff, plus stuff like glute bridges/bird dogs.
Thanks for the suggestions, I wasn't familiar with bird dogs, but they look like a great compound exercise for cycling. I will definitely give those a try. Much appreciated!

Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Can't disagree with that.



I'm with you, but that's about my goals. Some people want to ride a leisurely pace, and my hat's off to them for having the nerve to run close to time cutoffs. If the OP just wants to finish, slow and steady and smart will get the job done.
Thankfully, even with the injury, frequent breaks, and being the last to finish the 200k, I made the time limit with more than an hour to spare. If there were more climbing it might have been different, but as you suggested my main goal is just finishing while enjoying the ride (i.e. without pain). I suspect without the injury I would have been at least an hour faster. The 100k I finished with plenty of company despite still hurting, albeit a bit less.
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