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  1. #1
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    Dead legs for first 10-15 miles after rest day

    For the past couple weeks, my legs have been dead - even sore - for the first 10-15 miles after a day or more of rest. It's not just tired and stiff... they actually hurt. Last week, it was so bad, I decided at the upcoming turn-off point, I was going to bail on the ride - figured I was doing more harm than good. But before I got there (about 15 miles into the ride), I felt good. In fact, it was like I was just getting warmed up. I finished strong.

    This past weekend, four of us did 80 miles. For the first 15 or so, my legs hurt. I was having that same "damn, I'm going to have to turn around" feeling. Then, pain was gone and I felt fantastic and finished the ride strong; pulled an inordinate amount

    On one hand, not a big deal. It's a bit of that "wait for it... wait for it... there it is". But when my weekday rides are only 26 miles, feeling like crap for 15 of them kinda sucks. And the mountain bike racing demands a 100% effort from the start line - and the races are only 2 hours long.

    There must be something I can be doing on the off days? Stretching? 30 minutes on the trainer at a very low effort?

    The facts...
    - 43 yrs. old
    - Ride, on average, 4x/week.
    - Weekday rides are 26 miles.
    - Weekend rides are 45-80 miles. Usually a small group, e.g. 4-8
    - Short ride pace: 22-23 mph
    - Long ride pace: 20-21 mph

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I agree, keep the really hard days to 3 a week. I know a number of racers around here that really overdue it, doing training races Tues/Thurs and then racing Sat/Sun. For me, that's just too much. I like the Sat/Sun/Wed. schedule myself for hard days.

  3. #3
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    From your typical ride schedule...it appears, you never have an easy/recovery day. Maybe you are an undiscovered pro. I ride 5-6 days a week and on 4 out of 6 days, I ride real easy...like 14-16 mph easy on my road bike. Just for some perspective, I am a category 3 road racer.

    One day a week, I do a fast group ride where we average about 23 mph the whole ride and all of us are hurting the whole ride with many surges at 35+ mph...you state your short ride is 22-23 mph by yourself---so you must be a bada55 on your bike...but unless you are a category 1-2 rider on the road bike, your training seems to be only fast and hard only which is for most normal racers unproductive.

  4. #4
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    If you've done a few hard training days and then take a day off, all that junk just pools and fills your legs making them feel hurt on your next riding day before they "open up." Some of my best races have been days during warm up I am thinkin "oh boy this is really going to hurt."

    I agree with OP. I am a cat 1 and my solo days average in the high teens. I don't really look at speed as it is a horrible indicator of effort, but to compare apples to apples . . . I ride 6 days a week. Race most Sat and Sun and have one hard day a week. The rest are just getting the junk out from my legs.

    One thing that has worked for me recently is after a weekend of hard racing or a training block/stage race, I will do a "clean" out ride the next day rather than take the day off. I'll ride super easy for say 1-2 hours, but so 2x8 at high tempo (I have an SRM so I know the numbers) but I'd say 6 out of 10 effort. This still lets me recover but also helps clean out the legs. I will then take the next day off. I have seen great results from this and no longer have that flat/hurt feeling the day after a rest day.

    YMMV

  5. #5
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    Wow... a range of advise here, e.g. 1-3 hard days. I guess "hard" is nebulous term too. The Tuesday and Thursday (26 miles at 22 mph) are hard, but an hour later, I don't "feel it", e.g. it's easy to forget I rode that morning as I move around the house, stairs, etc. The long weekend rides are quite different - stairs are tough the REST of the day.

    Based on ^ that ^ does it seem like I'm overtraining? Should I add a "clean out" ride?

    Thanks guys.

  6. #6
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    I've run into the same issue with dead legs, especially after two days off. The soft pedal ride the day after a fast 40 or long challenging ride seems to be key to"flush" the legs.

  7. #7
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    Is this idea of stuff "pooling" in the muscles true? Could someone explain this for me. Is it lactic acid? Is it just retained in the muscle cells? Does oxygenated blood (slow, easy ride) force this out? It's just one of those terms that's been around... that I've never quiet grasped.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, you don't say which of those weekly rides are done entirely at recovery pace. Unless you're Spartacus, or all your rides are entirely downhill, I'm guessing none.

    Sounds like you need to balance your training more. With hard days, recovery days, and endurance days.

    You should pick up a copy of The Cyclist's Training Bible.

  9. #9
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    I fully admit this idea of crap in the legs might be on old wive's tale, but doing some sort of ride after a hard day/block of training seems to help many . . . I have no scientific basis for my feeling that it works, and maybe it is just a placebo . . . but hey, whatever works . . .

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    Wow... a range of advise here, e.g. 1-3 hard days. I guess "hard" is nebulous term too. The Tuesday and Thursday (26 miles at 22 mph) are hard, but an hour later, I don't "feel it", e.g. it's easy to forget I rode that morning as I move around the house, stairs, etc. The long weekend rides are quite different - stairs are tough the REST of the day.

    Based on ^ that ^ does it seem like I'm overtraining? Should I add a "clean out" ride?

    Thanks guys.
    I think you should put in at least one recovery ride, maybe two. If it were me, I'd also slow down one of the weekday rides - not to recovery pace, but to a fairly comfortable endurance pace. But, as you say, there's a range of advice here, and that's because everyone is different.

  11. #11
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    Try stretching before your rides.
    Personally I'm useless for 15 miles if I don't stretch regardless of how well rested, or not, I am.

  12. #12
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    foam roller works for me to prevent it
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  13. #13
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    Ride slowly enough that you can hold a converation without being out of breath, Then, when you go hard on "suffer" days, go HARD.

    My slow days are often "wife" days. She keeps the conversation going, and we go 14 to 15 mph. Keeps the recovery days just that.
    Just ride.

  14. #14
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    My guess is depending on your fitness level and how long ago you entered the sport, you might actually be having hard days everyday! In this sport it's really easy to overdue it because at the end of a ride you can shift gears and soft pedal after a hard/long ride and not even know how exhausted you are until the next day.

    If you are new to the sport or gained a little fitness it's really easy to make everyday a hard. In my case, I weigh 205 lbs and even on my easy days cresting a hill, stopping and starting a lot due to intersections, etc. I will see 600-850 watt mini efforts being made that I never realized I was doing until I got a power meter. It was a revelation to see that my "easy day" of riding through the neighborhood and local bike trails were actually interval efforts because I wasn't really resting and taking it easy. After analyzing my power files, I saw that my 10-15 miles of "easy" riding was a day filled with 40 efforts of 750+ watt standing starts.

    So in conclusion, I learned that depending on your weight, you really may have to consciously "soft pedal" even more to make your recovery days real recovery days.

  15. #15
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    I think one of the most difficult things for new riders/racers to learn is how to go easy...Everyone knows how to go hard

    I know I use to think I was doing recovery rides, but compared to what I do now those were not recovery rides...They were your basic junk miles, doing nothing but wearing me out more...

    The thing is that once you start to figure out the recovery thing then you can actually go hard on the hard days...Which in turn really makes you want to recover on the recovery day...

    Getting a powertap and a coach were the two best decisions I made...

    Sticking to a structured plan, self-coached or with a coach, is the only way to go in my book...

    BTW, sorry that this isn't directly related to the OP's question...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbart4506 View Post
    I think one of the most difficult things for new riders/racers to learn is how to go easy...Everyone knows how to go hard

    I know I use to think I was doing recovery rides, but compared to what I do now those were not recovery rides...They were your basic junk miles, doing nothing but wearing me out more...

    The thing is that once you start to figure out the recovery thing then you can actually go hard on the hard days...Which in turn really makes you want to recover on the recovery day...

    Getting a powertap and a coach were the two best decisions I made...

    Sticking to a structured plan, self-coached or with a coach, is the only way to go in my book...

    BTW, sorry that this isn't directly related to the OP's question...
    A lot of truth in that. Isn't the saying that if you go too hard on your easy days, it'll only make you go too easy on the hard days.

  17. #17
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    I suggest the 30 minute easy spin on your off days.

    When I used to run and race I was similar. When I was tapering for a race, I'd take my complete off day on Wednesday, then run on Thursday and Friday with a few short but hard efforts. If I took a rest day on Friday before a Saturday race, my legs always felt dead. I knew that the first day back after a missed day or off day was going to be sluggish for me.

    Many people just do better when they keep their body in a rhythm. A key is to make those 30 minutes of easy spinning super easy. You should be thinking to yourself "this is stupid I'm not possibly pressing the pedals hard enough to do anything." But it will make a difference.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gatorback View Post
    If I took a rest day on Friday before a Saturday race, my legs always felt dead. I knew that the first day back after a missed day or off day was going to be sluggish for me.
    I'm on the fence with this, at least in my case. I'd often take a light week, but I wouldn't always have the luxury of doing an opener the day before, due to work obligations. This year, I don't seem to notice much of a difference with race day performance given an opener or day off. I still try to do an opener if at all possible.

  19. #19
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    The one and only time I've ridden a century (so far) I was sure to take someone's advice of doing an hour's recovery ride the next day. It seemed mad at the time to even look at the bike again but I felt a lot better for it.

    I suspect I'm another rider who doesn't go easy enough on 'rest' or recovery days, but my miles aren't even close to the OPs. I'll put a copy of the Cyclist's Training Bible on order...
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  20. #20
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    The study that is considered one of the most thorough to compare active vs. passive recovery is the one below, which measured neuromuscular, biochemical, and subjective aspects of recovery. Their conclusion:

    :There were no significant differences in the recovery pattern between the active and passive recovery groups." Neuromuscular fatigue and recovery in elite female soccer: effects of active recovery.

  21. #21
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    But there is a difference between recovering and feeling good on the bike the next time out. Your legs may do just as much recovering with passive rest, but feeling sluggish following a day off is a different matter than recovering. Most people would feel sluggish after a week off the bike, even though they would be well recovered. For some people they take one day off and they can feel it. There is a reason grand tour riders put in a couple of hours of riding on the rest days even though their bodies need rest. They need to keep their rhythm.

  22. #22
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    Question for OldZaskar

    Do you use Sportlegs?

    I have the same sensation you are experiencing during my warm up. I have found that I experience this whether or not I have significant rest or no rest prior to a ride.

    My timeframe/miles is shorter than yours, but similar experience. At about mile 2-3, my legs feel like they are cramping. If I didn't know better, I would think that I'm experiencing electrolyte depletion or severe fatigue. Then after about 5-10 minutes, it goes away and I feel great.

    What I have found is that mine is worse when I 1) take sportlegs before a ride and 2) warm up too hard.

    A hard warm up has been the most significant factor. I ride into a group ride. When I'm running a later, I ride the 6 miles in harder than if I'm not running late. When I ride in harder, my cramping is more severe. Slower is less severe, but still happens.

    I've never really known why this occurs, just that it does and I do what is required not to experience this during a race (time to warm up).

    Sorry, I don't have any answers, just sympathy.
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