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I Suck at Rest Days

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I Suck at Rest Days

Old 11-17-20, 08:35 AM
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Cycletography
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I Suck at Rest Days

Following 10 years of no cycling due to chronic back issues and two back surgeries I've now been back on the road for 1.5 years. It took a long time to get to the point of being able to ride a bike, even for short distances. But once I reached that point I progressed much faster than expected. Within 6 months of getting back on the bike I was doing century rides again. For calendar year 2020 I've ridden more than 14,000 miles, which is many thousands more than I ever did prior to my first back surgery. I've been having so much fun riding my bike again it's been very hard to take rest days. I sometimes go a full month without a rest day; and when I do take one it really is just one day.

So, my question is: How "bad" is this practice (potentially)? I can tell from my heart data when I'm fatigued, but I rarely feel fatigued. I can also tell from my heart data how beneficial a rest day is, so I know I need to be taking them. I just don't have a firm handle on the long-term consequences (if any) of too much riding / not enough rest. Other than my back issues and chronic sciatica I'm pretty healthy (as far as I know). I'm 50 years old, about 5'6", weight range between 121 and 125 lb., resting heart rate 50-60 bpm, threshhold heart rate is roughly 170 bpm, mostly vegetarian diet (I eat fish occasionally), and I rarely comsume alcohol.
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Old 11-17-20, 12:54 PM
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I have a riding buddy who rode 30,000 miles two years in a row and worked up to that with 20,000 and 25,000 mile years. Obviously not every one can do that. He didn't overtrain or get weaker, in fact he got stronger and did some fast GR events, 1200k. IME you can tell if you need a rest day or probably easy week. Simple: you get slower or can't do the efforts you could do last week. In fact, in the normal training process, you look for that. You want to get tired, to get slower, so then you know you've hit your limit and need to rest. Doing that, you'll be stronger after the rest because you exerted yourself to your max. Can't do better than that. It's sorta like lifting weights where you rep until you hit failure, then rest a couple days before you lift again. Failure is the goal with that philosophy.


OTOH we don't need to do that that all-out training. It's a option. We can just do long steady distance every day like my buddy and that will get us stronger, too. "Ride lots" as Eddy said.

Meanwhile, watch your morning resting and morning standing HRs. As long as they stay fairly steady, i.e. they go up and down maybe 4 beats and the difference between then goes up and down maybe 10 beats, fine. But if you're watching your standing HR and it just keeps going up and up to over 20 beats above your resting, you probably need to rest and by that time I think you'd have noticed it in your performance anyway. The morning HR thing is sort of a back-up to failure-to-notice or possibly a reassurance when you're just feeling tired. I know when I'm in a build cycle, my legs hurt every day just walking around - but they don't hurt when I'm on the bike unless I deliberately hurt them with hard efforts. Yeah, that sucks but that's what works for me.
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Old 11-17-20, 01:47 PM
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Carbonfiberboy: Thanks so much for the feedback. Your response is actually quite comforting, as I expected a much worse prognosis. Nevertheless, I do know that I need to be taking more rest days and I'll be making more of an effort to incorporate them into my training plans. I primarily monitor my heart rate on the bike, but will start to pay more attention to my heart activity off the bike.

I just remebered that we have an oximeter in the house, so I pulled it out to take a reading. Resting pulse was 52 and oxygen level was 98%. I'll start making a practice to check these levels in the morning when I wake up.

Speaking of waking up, I've noticed a correlation between my sleep patterns and my cycling activity. More cycling + no rest days = Less sleep (generally speaking). In other words, when I'm riding a lot of miles and not taking rest days it's harder to fall sleep, I wake up every couple hours and I can't sleep past 4:30 am. This dynamic could be the result of other stress in my life, but I think it's safe to assume that my cycling activities and lack of rest days are making a significant contribution.
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Old 11-17-20, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
Carbonfiberboy: Thanks so much for the feedback. Your response is actually quite comforting, as I expected a much worse prognosis. Nevertheless, I do know that I need to be taking more rest days and I'll be making more of an effort to incorporate them into my training plans. I primarily monitor my heart rate on the bike, but will start to pay more attention to my heart activity off the bike.

I just remebered that we have an oximeter in the house, so I pulled it out to take a reading. Resting pulse was 52 and oxygen level was 98%. I'll start making a practice to check these levels in the morning when I wake up.

Speaking of waking up, I've noticed a correlation between my sleep patterns and my cycling activity. More cycling + no rest days = Less sleep (generally speaking). In other words, when I'm riding a lot of miles and not taking rest days it's harder to fall sleep, I wake up every couple hours and I can't sleep past 4:30 am. This dynamic could be the result of other stress in my life, but I think it's safe to assume that my cycling activities and lack of rest days are making a significant contribution.
That's a known issue. You can try taking 5mg of melatonin 30' before bed.
https://www.bodybuilding.com/content...melatonin.html
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11354528/

I don't think there is are big performance gains going beyond 500 hours/year - it's down to a few percent from there on up, big difference for racers, not so much for amateurs. My riding buddy got divorced, but maybe that was the point.
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Old 11-18-20, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
That's a known issue. You can try taking 5mg of melatonin 30' before bed.
https://www.bodybuilding.com/content...melatonin.html
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11354528/

I don't think there is are big performance gains going beyond 500 hours/year - it's down to a few percent from there on up, big difference for racers, not so much for amateurs. My riding buddy got divorced, but maybe that was the point.
Thanks for the links. The articles indicate that the efficacy of melatonin is "good for some, not so good for others". However, the downside (i.e risk) of giving it a try seems minimal.

As for the balance between training hours and performance, I have no doubt you are correct. If I were an athlete who regularly competed in events/races I would no doubt be more disciplined and adhere to an actual training plan. The fact that I ride primarily for fun (and absolutely love being on the bike) makes it easy to ignore (or at least discount) "good" training practices. However, I'm well aware this strategy will only get me so far if I wish to make continued progress on the bike.

Since I'm not fond of stagnation I'm sure I'll slowly start to implement more structure in my riding schedule. It's just going to take some extra motivation, focus and planning to add structure without decreasing the fun.
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Old 11-20-20, 12:33 PM
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find another activity for rest days, so in other words active rest
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Old 11-28-20, 10:28 PM
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You might consider getting a power meter. One of the under appreciated benefits of a PM is keeping you honest on easy days.

Last edited by caloso; 11-29-20 at 02:46 PM.
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