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Why do we have to recover after training much harder than usual?

Old 07-22-20, 05:03 PM
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DreamRider85
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Why do we have to recover after training much harder than usual?

Iím a little discouraged because yesterday I felt amazing. Went really hard and my training has been improving. Today I couldnít go. When I woke up I felt fine but once I got on my bike I didnít feel right. My butt was a bit sore, legs felt kinda sluggish going through the motion, though not sore. I only rode for about 45 minutes instead of 3 hours and I had enough. Yesterday I felt like I was flying, today I felt like a snail.

Why does the body do this to us? What exactly is happening? When can I expect to bounce back?
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Old 07-22-20, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
Why do we have to recover after training much harder than usual?
I know. It's so counterintuitive. Who would have thought recovery would be proportional to effort?
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Old 07-22-20, 05:47 PM
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I don't know how old you are, but it's the same no matter how old you are, only it's more if you're older like me. Heat affects you more, extra miles affect you more, and climbing affects you more. The physiology of stressing muscle tissue is out there if you want to research, but for me, it's about my muscles repairing the damage done the day before, flushing the lactic acid and other waste products of muscle activity. Recovery rides such as you described are valuable. Plan on them.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
I’m a little discouraged because yesterday I felt amazing. Went really hard and my training has been improving. Today I couldn’t go. When I woke up I felt fine but once I got on my bike I didn’t feel right. My butt was a bit sore, legs felt kinda sluggish going through the motion, though not sore. I only rode for about 45 minutes instead of 3 hours and I had enough. Yesterday I felt like I was flying, today I felt like a snail.

Why does the body do this to us? What exactly is happening? When can I expect to bounce back?
Oh. Might this possibly tie into your previous thread? Could be a lot of things. It's hard to climb a million feet in a year. Ya gotta have a little more respect for the adversary, which is nature, There are many reasons we need to rest. This particular time it might be glandular, or then again it might not. W/r to training, it's called overreaching, which is a good word for it. You did more than your body is currently capable of, or even may ever be capable of, which is yet to be determined. In any case, you have to rest to replenish whatever it is that you're out of. One can only replenish off the bike. The amount of rest required has to do with how far in the hole you are. This can only be determined by personal experience.

Do you have a heart rate monitor (HRM)? If you don't, get one. One needs some means of tracking what's going on internally. An HRM is the cheapest. A power meter (PM) is also good, but it doesn't give the same information as an HRM. Both are best at what they do, the HRM at assessing the body's internal state, the PM at assessing the body's output.

If you had a HRM, you would have noticed that your HR today was much below your HR yesterday. There several reasons which could have caused that, but for this discussion I'll assume it is hormonal. You know "flight or fight" hormones, right? They raise our HR and enable us to do difficult things. When they're depleted by overuse, over-dependence let us say, they're just not there. HR doesn't come up and suddenly we can't do difficult things anymore. Rest is what one needs.

How to tell how much? Take it easy tomorrow, don't ride at all. The next day go out and head for a hill. If you had a HRM, you could see whether your HR came up normally or not. Without, you'd try to see if you felt OK yet. If things weren't OK, you'd ride home easy and try again the next day or the day after that. It's also possible to have only a partial recovery, to be OK on the first 1000' and then fall apart. The HRM would help with that, too.

Overreaching is not to be avoided, BTW. The whole idea of training hard to to reach that point and recover from it, then have at it again. That's how one gets stronger. Just like in the gym, one gets stronger by taking it to the limit. That said, one doesn't want to do this all the time. Every 3rd or 4th week is traditionally a rest week, which means cutting back by maybe 30% on both intensity and volume. This might be a good time to insert a rest week.

Note that the cause of this overreach might not be hormonal, it could also be nutritional or some of both.
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Old 07-22-20, 06:01 PM
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Pretty much anytime you exceed your norm, your body will rebel a little. If you make the harder efforts your norm, then your body will get used to it and it'll take an even harder effort to make you feel bad again.

Sort of the philosophy behind getting better and faster at riding.

There is a lot of physiology and nutrition stuff to read to help your body out. Don't look for magic potions or stuff to make it easy.
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Old 07-22-20, 06:21 PM
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Well tomorrow I have several of things to do, I guess I'll just take it easy. Maybe go for a walk. My mind thinks I can do it, but my body wasn't letting me go hard today. Yesterday I felt invincible. I'm not really sore today and I'm feeling lighter, so it's weird how my body is still not up to it. I used to think that cycling was different from weight training, in the sense you weren't progressively overloading your muscles.
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Old 07-22-20, 06:22 PM
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It's called " being human"....The reality of training is that no matter how fit you are and how much you improve, there will always be those days where your body will rebel against you, your energy levels will be lower and life will suck.
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Old 07-22-20, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
Well tomorrow I have several of things to do, I guess I'll just take it easy. Maybe go for a walk. My mind thinks I can do it, but my body wasn't letting me go hard today. Yesterday I felt invincible. I'm not really sore today and I'm feeling lighter, so it's weird how my body is still not up to it. I used to think that cycling was different from weight training, in the sense you weren't progressively overloading your muscles.
That last is true to some extent, though you'll read TdF riders reminiscing about how their legs were just dead after a hard stage. In aerobic endurance sports like cycling and long-distance running, it's the entire energy extraction and delivery system which gets tired. It takes many marathoners a month to recover.
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Old 07-23-20, 01:54 AM
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This is literally the most normal response, are you just venting your frustration or is this a serious question?
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Old 07-23-20, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
Why does the body do this to us? What exactly is happening? When can I expect to bounce back?
Evolution.

To prevent you from killing yourself/being killed from continued over-exertion.

Makes a lot of sense, actually.

Obviously this isn't the first time this has happened in your life, so like ZHVelo said, is this a serious question?
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Old 07-23-20, 11:42 AM
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Recover harder? I think you have to try hard not to try. .
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Old 07-23-20, 01:57 PM
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There is a time to listen to your body, and a time to tell it what to do. Sounds like your body is overly dominant and wins the argument too many times.

Resting your body doesn't mean doing nothing. Just means don't ride all out HR busting pace for a day or so. You can ride a easy leisurely pace for an hour or two. Just tell your body to get off it's duff and out there.
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Old 07-23-20, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Resting your body doesn't mean doing nothing. Just means don't ride all out HR busting pace for a day or so. You can ride a easy leisurely pace for an hour or two. Just tell your body to get off it's duff and out there.
This is just one of the many things I prefer about cycling as compared to running. You can do really super easy rides. I could never do that with running (I'm not lightweight or a natural runner). It switches over to walking there (which is ok too but it's not running). The only problem I've got with super easy rides is that my hands and butt don't like them as much.
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Old 07-24-20, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
There is a time to listen to your body, and a time to tell it what to do. Sounds like your body is overly dominant and wins the argument too many times.

Resting your body doesn't mean doing nothing. Just means don't ride all out HR busting pace for a day or so. You can ride a easy leisurely pace for an hour or two. Just tell your body to get off it's duff and out there.
Indeed, not sure about cycling because yes you run the same routes again but so many other factors influencing it, but in the gym, I sometimes had my greatest improvements the week after resting for a week.
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Old 07-28-20, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
I’m a little discouraged because yesterday I felt amazing. Went really hard and my training has been improving. Today I couldn’t go. When I woke up I felt fine but once I got on my bike I didn’t feel right. My butt was a bit sore, legs felt kinda sluggish going through the motion, though not sore. I only rode for about 45 minutes instead of 3 hours and I had enough. Yesterday I felt like I was flying, today I felt like a snail.

Why does the body do this to us? What exactly is happening? When can I expect to bounce back?
I eat a meaty meal before I ride out and then have another meaty meal on my next meal after coming back.

I experience most of the pain and soreness (A LOT !) during the ride and I ride really hard until I feel like I'm suffocating and dripping wet all over in sweat.

But I can recover (soreness and weakening) gone in just few hours (I'm 38 yo). Maybe you only need to eat and make sure it's high in protein and get plenty of sleep

It may also help to periodically stretch your leg muscles too while riding, especially when coasting on your bike.
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Old 07-28-20, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
It may also help to periodically stretch your leg muscles too while riding, especially when coasting on your bike.
I didn't think coasting is allowed. Certainly not for any more than two or three seconds, unless the brakes are also being used. <grin>
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Old 07-28-20, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I didn't think coasting is allowed. Certainly not for any more than two or three seconds, unless the brakes are also being used. <grin>
I deliberately wear loose jacket and shorts that flaps and balloon in the wind, big skateboard helmet, and full fenders and mudflaps on my 37 lbs bike. In addition to wide, knobby tires. Coasting at 25 mph will slow me down in a jiffy! Add a bit of headwind and I'll coast to a full stop in a red light in just a couple seconds!

Lots of drag on me and my bike (so I don't get too fast training in city traffic), I suppose that counts for braking!
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Old 07-29-20, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
Iím a little discouraged because yesterday I felt amazing. Went really hard and my training has been improving. Today I couldnít go. When I woke up I felt fine but once I got on my bike I didnít feel right. My butt was a bit sore, legs felt kinda sluggish going through the motion, though not sore. I only rode for about 45 minutes instead of 3 hours and I had enough. Yesterday I felt like I was flying, today I felt like a snail.

Why does the body do this to us? What exactly is happening? When can I expect to bounce back?
As others have said: whether you chalk it up to evolution, or a protection mechanism, or simply the body's "recharging" mode ... recovery needs to occur before we're top-notch again.

Back in the day, as a half-decent middle-distance runner, I'd gotten to the point where fairly hard training could occur ~2-3x per week on average, with most of the rest simply very fast on the flats or longer/slower "base" mileage. (These were years when I'd often do 150mi or more cycling each week, as well; not a lot, but enough to get the legs' attention.)

Very hard efforts required another day+ of recovery. On those "off" days, I'd ratchet-back the intensity to be something much more sedate, but likely much longer distance. I'd call those "recovery' runs. Challenging runs, from a distance or overall time perspective, but nowhere near as hard-hitting as a "hard" training run (hills, hard intervals, switchback climbs, sprints, etc). The first several years I was running, I couldn't tolerate the tougher sequences that frequently. At my peak, 2-3x per week for the tough stuff was typical, sometimes with a fourth rough session tossed in to see if I could tolerate it.

Point being: the body knows, and it'll tell you when it's zapped. No matter the level of fitness or strength you have, your body needs to recharge its reserves, rebuild the minor damage you've done to muscles so they're ready for the next hard efforts. Focus on your stretching, nutrition, soaking/massage, and "off" effort exercising ("recovery" rides or runs or some other physical activity that'll get the blood pumping but won't be nearly so hard on the muscles as that hard effort that got you achy in the first place).

Typical for me, back in the day:

* Running -- if a couple of harder days resulted in the body feeling a bit "flat," then the next couple of runs and rides would be longer, slower, on flatter routes. Still good exercise, but focusing on something not so muscle-intensive. Good stretching, "recovery" nutrition to rebuild, good sleep. Might take a couple of days, depending on the intensity of that "hard" effort that was so painful.

* Cycling -- most "hard" rides (for me) in the 20-40mi range, flatter and faster, with a couple of 200-300ft climbs. Occasional hard rides, hills or very fast. Generally required a couple days' of recovery, doing much slower and varied activities until the legs "had it" again. Could ride hours and hours, but the harder stuff I'd generally limit to <40mi.

^ Not very scientific, I know. But through experience I learned quite a lot about how my own body would tolerate certain levels of training, and how much recovery (and of what types) that seemed to work best. Found that a good base of "cross" training with various types of exercise helped quite a bit. Found nutrition and sleep mattered more than I expected. Found that doing a longer/slower effort could itself be one of the best ways to recover from an early hard stint. As fitness improved, the amount of time to recover fully would decrease, and the amount of reduced-intensity exercise I could do while recovery would improve.
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