I want ride bikes more, but can't recover enough
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  1. #1
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    I want ride bikes more, but can't recover enough

    Hello i have a couple questions, that bother be for quite some time. I (43yrs old and not a lifetime athlete) have been riding mtb for 7 years and road for two..and road cycling made me want more fitness. Mtb used to be "earning privilege for DH by pedalling uphill"...so speed uphill wasn't any of importance. That changed with road bike...i came to point, where it seems i can't ride more than say 5-8hours per week(3-4 rides a week and i don't do regullar centuries, which i'd be glad to ride in this life)....just can't get enough rest to be able to ride more...is really all i can do for extra hours to ride at "active recovery", which i find almost boring as sitting on the couch..? I guess not, but how do recreational cyclist manage to do 10 or even 15 hours a week, without over training? When/how do they rest? I do understand every third week should be recovery, but still..I'd also guess majority of stronger cyclist do have other obligations in their lives, so not all time can be invested in cycling and resting...
    Having first "indoor" bike makes these questions even more relevant to me this winter...
    Any thoughts about this from more experienced cyclists would be more that appreciated.
    Roots
    Last edited by ROOTS; 12-30-2018 at 05:47 AM. Reason: misleading centuries statement

  2. #2
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    First, this could be a complicated issue or as simple as pie (a complicated pie)

    There are too many variables to give concrete info given the OP. Attaining fitness is generally cumulative, but there may be several plateaus and there are physical limits that vary by individual and even day to day.

    While we might designate a "recovery" day within 7, it may not be that simple... depending on your goals, "recoverery" may occcur within a given ride or training!

    Seeing a Century ride as a goal will prolly allow a focused approach and is doable for most folks willing to commit a bit of time and effort.

  3. #3
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    Doing a century ride will extend your endurance, so I like to do a couple a year or some really long solo rides.

    For me, I look just as hard at recovery time as I do 'go' time! Otherwise I'll get totally drained. And everyone is different on this issue. If your on steriods, no problem, just go. If your old and aged, different story.
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  4. #4
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    I also transitioned from mtb to road and all I can say is that endurance takes a long time to gain. When I first started riding, a hard 20 mile was all I could do...Short steep climbs and sprints were no problem, I assumed they were the carry-over from mt biking, but long rides took a few years to finish strongly. At summer peak I'm probably at 12-14 hours/week and currently @ 52yo. Stick with it.
    In reference to the Assault on Mt Mitchell...
    Quote Originally Posted by merckx56
    The easier solution is to find a biker bar in Spartanburg the night before, go in and pick a fight. The ass-whipping you'll get will be far less painful than the one Mitchell will give you the next day!

  5. #5
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Oddly enough there is a section of the forum dedicated to questions just like yours...

    https://forums.roadbikereview.com/ra...on-triathlons/
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  6. #6
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    Stretching and eating like there's no tomorrow seems to help. Sleep too.
    Understanding that 100% all the time is stupid helps too. In other words manage how much need for recovery you create not just the recovery itself.
    Learn the line between fast enough to have fun and fast enough to destroy your legs for three days. Don't cross it unless you don't want to have fun riding for three days.

  7. #7
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    I have the same problems.
    1) Recovery drinks after a ride help
    2)Not every ride can be hard. You should mix in short and flat rides between the harder ones.
    3)Everyone needs to rest. You're not 20 anymore. It's only natural that as one ages more recovery is needed

  8. #8
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    As someone who is 42 years old, a longtime mountain biker riding road a lot more, here is what I do. I ride 4-5 times per week.

    Long rides at a slower pace 25 miles plus on Fridays and Saturdays

    Short rides harder pace under 25 miles after work Sunday through Weds.

    After ride recovery drink and some food

    Plenty of rest. This is important. You need more rest than you think to improve. Everyone is different, but you must take at least 1 full day, maybe 2.

    My road rides are more pleasurable, mountain bike rides are longer and faster.

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  9. #9
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    The fitter you become, the more volume you can handle and recover from. A couple of things to add to the above - you may already know but just throwing them in there

    1. Nutrition - Timing for recovery drink is important - do it within 30minutes of the end of your ride to help speed recovery - a banana smoothie is a good choice for glycogen replenishment, add some why protein to help also. Eat a good meal within a couple hours. You don't need to gorge, just a good balanced meal.

    2. REST - If you are riding hard enough to be equivalent to doing an interval session, you probably need a day off or easy spin day (feels like soft pedaling almost)between your hard days. Getting a good night sleep is key also to recovery - not less than 7 hours, preferably 8 or more of quality sleep. You may or may not need a full week easy every 3 weeks, I can get by with 5 days of easy riding and I'm 62. That week really shouldn't be zero riding, and it shouldn't be ANY hard riding - as in it should all be zone 1 / 2 and the low end of zone 2.

    3. Interval training will help accelerate how fast you are improving your fitness. It's not as fun as just riding with friends but it's very effective. If you want to get better at hills, do hill repeats, and drop weight. Its not a requirement to have long rides (like over 2 hours) to get fitter.

    4. Once you get fit enough to add to your training load, you may have to make compromises in your personal life to cycling into your life to meet your performance goals. It's a choice, it can be done, those changes obviously need to be weighed carefully and make sure your family is supportive. Personally I go to bed very early and get up very early to get my riding time in without interfering with family time.
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  10. #10
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    Search the racing/training forum, I bet you can find a training schedule that fits your needs and goals. But for simple advice...

    You really don't need more than 7 hours a week given where you are, but you have to use those 7 hours wisely, with no waste of time, to get the most out of those hours.

    Ride harder on your hard rides, and slower on your recovery rides. That's my simple advice.

    For example, there is nothing wrong with a 30-60 minute easy spin on a recovery day, outside or on a trainer. Move the legs, get the blood flowing, but don't even think of breathing hard. Most MTBers don't ride slow enough on recovery days. In large part because there are no easy MTB rides (if you are doing it right ). Most casual road cyclists don't ride easy enough either, btw. Riding slower on recovery days will let you ride harder on the hard days compared with not riding at all. It's worth it, completely, but you have to keep it easy for it to work.

    To ride faster, you need to ride faster: speed work. Intervals. That kind of thing. There is no reason you would need more than an hour ride for that.

    Long endurance? Nothing but working up your saddle time, which takes time. Take a long ride on the weekend, and make it longer (in time terms) over time. 2-3 hours.

    I'd work my 7 hours around those types of rides, were I trying to advance and only had 7 hours a week to ride.

    So do more with your shorter rides, by riding harder AND easier. Avoid in between for the most part. Speed work will make you faster over time. Easier recovery will help advance your fitness. Gradually longer and longer rides will get you to the 3-4 hour range with reasonable comfort. And then you will be able to do a century without killing yourself or abandoning the attempt.
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  11. #11
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    I will echo others here who emphasize the importance of getting enough sleep and good balanced nutritious meals.

    You did not state other items like your height, weight, BMI, meds you are on and other health issues which may have an affect on your stamina.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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  12. #12
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    with the info you gave, here's my take (and I could be wrong of course):

    a 43 yo male who's been riding 7 years mtb and 2 years road should be fit in such that riding 5-8 hrs/wk should be absolutely no problem. In fact, with only 5-8 hours/wk, at least 50% of these hours should be spent in higher intensity efforts, the other 50% IS your recovery. But yet here you are saying that you cannot recover enough?? 43 is not that old, I mean there are and have been many NFL and NBA players close to this age. Chris Horner won the Vuelta at 41. Granted that these are outliers and in the case of Horner doped up, but still, 43 isn't old that one could not recover from 5-8 hours/wk of exercising.

    could there could be other issues that you're not telling us or not aware of? Do you have a night job? how is your sleep quality? do you have a heart condition? do you have a weight issue? any medical condition? If you have none of these and are an otherwise healthy individual, I find it odd that you can't recover fast enough.

  13. #13
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    Or consume alcohol? If so, how often and how much each time? It does affect your recovery rate.

    43yrs old and not a lifetime athlete) have been riding mtb for 7 years and road for two

    Now that you are 9 years older than when you started riding MTB, it's an important factor too, especially after the age 23 (physically detriment from there on) .

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    The fitter you become, the more volume you can handle and recover from. A couple of things to add to the above - you may already know but just throwing them in there

    3. Interval training will help accelerate how fast you are improving your fitness. It's not as fun as just riding with friends but it's very effective. If you want to get better at hills, do hill repeats, and drop weight. Its not a requirement to have long rides (like over 2 hours) to get fitter.
    Thanks everyone - interesting thread. I turned 50 a few months ago and am having similar issues trying to optimise recovery.

    Any recommendations about where to start with interval training? I've been mountain biking on and off for the last 12 years or so, and for the last 6 months been doing 60-90 min road rides as well as a couple of mtb rides per week. Thanks.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murf58 View Post
    Thanks everyone - interesting thread. I turned 50 a few months ago and am having similar issues trying to optimise recovery.

    Any recommendations about where to start with interval training? I've been mountain biking on and off for the last 12 years or so, and for the last 6 months been doing 60-90 min road rides as well as a couple of mtb rides per week. Thanks.
    Assuming you have a good solid base a typical starting point would be doing a variation of Tempo intervals with 4:1 or 5:1 work to recovery ratio totalling 60 minutes at intensity. So as an example 4x15 with 5 minute recovery, 3x20 with 5 minute recovery etc. 3 x per week, with 3 rest days and one 2 hour endurance pace ride the day after one of your interval rides. 3 weeks of this, then 1 rest week. Rest days and rest week are low intensity zone 1, spinning at 85 to 90 rpm. After doing a few blocks of this, start doing the same thing with steady state intervals and change the rest / recovery ratio to 2:1 so your 3x20 would be 20 minutes at power, and 10 minute recovery. If you are doing these right, you will really struggle to finish the last one, and might have to drop the power a little bit to finish. Every 4 months or so, do a 2 week block of VO2 max intervals - like 6x5s. Of course this is a very generic plan, not specific to any event but it will definitely deliver results - you don't do this kind of work without improving.
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  16. #16
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    Thanks Srode - much appreciated.
    Ill begin with some tempo intervals as suggested.

  17. #17
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    Other factors, i haven't mentioned178cm, 58kg(125lbs) since ever, healthy otherwise...i do eat meat and pay close attention to what and when i eat/drink (learned it the hard way.. what it means not eating good enough for biking, before and after)...i do get 7-8hr sleep every night, which should be enough...there can be a night a week, when one of two (2 and 5yrs old) boys need some attention at night..i do have a beer or two a week, probably less...I spend every afternoon with kids and wife.and majority of evenings (21-23h) at the office, noodling with music.. I work as self-employed, behind the desk, making my own schedule.
    I think i know, when i am not rested enough to avoid too hard rides...or i thought i knew...
    Having such low weight, even struggling not to lose it, makes me a climber type of cyclist. I live under hills, which are heaven for mtb and road cycling. Riding flats is what i fear the most, since keeping a decent speed (compared to all decent cyclists i know) on a flat road is really hard to me (they even advised me against deep rim wheels at LBS - due to my weight)...But i like doing and do solo TT kind of rides too..and sometimes combine them with smaller climbs..i fear high summer temperatures and don't mind too much sub zero winter ones...
    Normal bigger road type of ride is about 60km with 1000m of steep climbs (8-25%grade) with at least 35kms of flats...and when i feel like i want some more, i climb a hill or two more, never more than say 80km all together...but that takes me 3 days off for recovery..i tend and like to push myself on these days (no pain no gain)..
    Recovery ride (i like to call it easier ride) is normally a local mtb in the woods, never longer than 75mins and not more than 600 vertical m...some short uphill parts can be up to 40% slope, but i don't push more than what is needed to climb them...when recovering..

    I did 3-4 over 100km rides in last couple years, but always got so tired, it took me two days off the bike and than easy riding for a day or two..to get back in normal state(that is more than half of the week!!!)..this is what turns me off doing that...on the other hand i have friend at my age(drinks, smokes), who weights almost double my weight, who can make a 130km's road ride like nothing...and hates climbing..
    I spent last winter's sport hours in gym, doing cycling interval trainings as well and there was a result in spring (highest FTP so far), but it was all gone by summer(due to just riding?)..i think i had power in legs, but no real endurance stamina...i peaked in fall (did several PB's on local road and mtb climbs)...i did several interval trainings in summer on the road too...
    I preferred not doing recovery rides as i thought I'd recover better off the bike and optimise time for everything else...

    Regarding centuries, i wouldn't mind them, but they are not goal; i just find it awesome to see so many (some a lot older) people ride them so regularly...does that become effortless with time, when you invest so desired 10-15hrs/week?
    I did search the forums before, but 10-15hrs a week isn't something majority seem to have problems with, when there is a will and time.
    Do you think training for up to 30min steep climbs excludes training for longer distances at endurance tempo? One must pick one and stick to it? How do you ride 4-5hr ride, never attack a hill or any part of route?
    My goal is simply to be faster all over, to be able to ride more, before I'd be to old to dream about it, whenever that might come..
    I wish i could conclude this pile of * in shorter manner and pardon my nonnative English and so many "my's & I's"..

    Thank you all and i wish you the best NY party ever :-)
    Last edited by ROOTS; 12-30-2018 at 05:41 AM. Reason: grammar

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ROOTS View Post
    Do you think training for up to 30min steep climbs excludes training for longer distances at endurance tempo? One must pick one and stick to it? How do you ride 4-5hr ride, never attack a hill or any part of route?
    My goal is simply to be faster all over, to be able to ride more, before I'd be to old to dream about it, whenever that might come..
    You can train for both at the same time, a 30 minute climb is largely aerobic as are long rides - you just need the right gearing to keep you aerobic on the climb.
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  19. #19
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    Generally speaking all my rides are done at a pace where I either push the pace, or ride hard, or ocassionally throw in race segments along the ride.

    I never do recovery rides. I recover simply by the number of days between rides. I'm old as dirt and these past two years have slowed down. Now I ride at least twice a week with my total miles being a MINIMUM of 60 miles combined between them. (Until this year past I did a minimum of three sometimes four rides a week with a minimum total mileage of 150 a week. I recently put a limit on the length of my ride at 75 miles.

    I fully recover simply by resting enough and eating right. I work out with weights at least once every five days. (I don't do legwork--just upper body.)

    The above works for me.

  20. #20
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    in your quest to ride more, beware of junk miles. they're not fun nor productive.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek_5200 View Post
    in your quest to ride more, beware of junk miles. they're not fun nor productive.
    One mans junk is another mans treasure.
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  22. #22
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    Excellent advice here. Above all Ö listen to your body talk. You can run, spin on a trainer, ride a fixed gear, etc. even on ďrecoveryĒ days. Often your body just wants a break from a repetitive exercise, not -0- exercise.

    Also, while YMMV, I inadvertently discovered after breaking some stuff a few years back that I benefited immensely from just taking two weeks off from all exercise once a year. It allows lots of nagging pulls and tears to resolve themselves.

  23. #23
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    hmm I think there are several different topics going on here. And here's my comments, in no particular order

    1. you're 178cm tall and only 58kg. This is very light given your height. So, you will always going to struggle on the flat due to a relative high air resistance (due to height) and relatively low power output (due to light weight). So it is what it is here.

    2. "recovery" is sort of a loose term used by many people. You say you feel fatigued after a long ride that you'd need 3 days to "recover". The fact is, you probably don't need 3 days to recover. You can still train after 2 days EVEN IF your legs feel tired and heavy. Now, if you say your energy is very low and you feel like you have no motivation to do anything, then that's a different story, then you probably an overall central nervous system fatigue (but I don't think you have this). So do not judge your "recovery" by how your legs feel alone. And doing a low intensity 1-hr "recovery" ride after a previous day hard ride is not a bad idea. This serves to clear up some lactic acid, and low intensity training does serve to increase capillarization, even if your legs feel like they're burning.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ROOTS View Post
    178cm, 58kg(125lbs)


    Thatís really light! Your BMI is in the ďunderweightĒ range. So I wonder about doing some off-season weight training and trying to add a bit of muscle.

    Iím the exact height as you, 47 years old, and Iíve only been riding for about 5 years. Iím better at climbing than hammering on the flats, and Iím not all that fast. But I can do lots of very long rides without even a day off to recovery. Most summers I do 4 or 5 centuries, and Iíve done a couple of double centuries. In September I did 425 miles in 7 days, and I actually felt better on days 4-6 than 1-3.

    My off-season weight is about 145-147, and I feel that Iím at my best on the bike when Iím at about 142-144. A couple of times I got down to 138 during the late summer, and I was definitely slower and weaker at that weight than I was 5 pounds heavier than that.

    At 140 my friends continually tell me that Iím under-weight and I continue to tell them they are wrong. But you weigh 15 to 20 pounds less than me, so I have to wonder if you really arenít a bit under weight.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek_5200 View Post
    in your quest to ride more, beware of junk miles. they're not fun nor productive.
    Power meters help-feel frustrated pedaling up a false flat or into what looks like a light headwind at 12mph? You could easily be cranking out 250 watts or so.

    On the other hand, turn around in the opposite direction and feel like a rock star with your speed in the low 20s? Guess what, you're barely making 100 watts.

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