Going Downhill(not the fun way)
Last summer I reached a level of riding that I've never experienced. It was great. Cleaning climbs that were impossible before, riding faster than ever, riding 3-4 times longer than before with ease, and enjoying my ride time alot more because of it. Then Fall/Winter came around and I have had a dramatic downturn in my performance and ability on the bike. Even though Im riding the same trails, same bike, same weekly mileage its become extremely difficult, to the point that I can barely finish 5 miles when before, 30 miles was no problem.
Its gotten to where I feel like Im dragging a buick behind me even on easy flat trails. My pace has dropped, my legs ache constantly(on and off the bike), and i have a hard time breathing while riding. When I do ride my legs feel like stumps for at least 10 miles, then they only slightly start to feel ok. I can barely hang with people that before I could easily pull away from. Any thoughts on causes/solutions to this?
Im 28 years old, ride 60+ miles a week at a high speed(for me), eat very healthy(veggies, fruits, lots of water, whole grains, lean protein), I eat recovery post ride foods(pnut butter sandwich/skim chocolate milk), I get at least 8hrs of sleep every night.
Things I think might be causing this:
Work: Im a Park Ranger and Im on my feet 7 out of 8 working hours, usually doing rounds or physical labor. I havent changed My boot insoles in 8 months, they are gone and there is no padding in them. This leaves my legs and feet very tired. I usually ride right after work on the trails at the Park.
Ride frequency: I ride 5-6 out of 7 days, usually 15-20 miles at a time. I dont really do "recovery rides" and hammer pretty hard most of the time.
Pedals: I switched to flats about 6 weeks ago and they might be working different muscles causing the soreness and fatigue in my legs.
Any advice ya'll can offer would be greatly appreciated. Im doing a big race(PMBAR) in may and at the rate Im going I doubt I'll make it an hour into it before Im done.
I would take 2 days off in a row each week. To shake a plateau take a full week, maybe 2, from all but leisurely stuff. Don't know your climate but regardless, from what you describe you may benefit from switching up a couple of days a week with some other type training for a while, and some new shoes, lol
Maybe get a blood test to make sure you are not suffering from a case of anemia? Always a good thing to check if you notice a dramatic dropoff in fitness.
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I'm always looking for new people to ride with. If you are on the Front Range, shoot me a PM and let's go ridin'.
That sounds like overtraining to me. Google it. I'd start by taking at least a week off the bike and then doing some easy rides at very low intensity for at least another week. Do you track your heart rate at all? That would help confirm/disprove that theory.
If it is overtraining, it's no joke and it will take you a good number of weeks to recover.
I'd see a Doc and get a thorough blood test. Talk about measuring testosterone levels, too. Take some time off as mentioned above.
Need a lot more recovery time.
Also.....don't know if you're doing a proper warm-up before, and stretching after, but if not that can help big time with progress and recovery times.
Staying hydrated enough, slow and steady, on and off the bike, as well as adequate before bed nutrition can also help.
Once you get back to normal this can be avoided in the future by simply taking enough recovery time, and alternating training type, duration, and intensity.
Bmi is another factor, and much more a factor for some. Once i get down into low teens I feel my long term energy falls off but still doable, if I get down into single digit territory it falls off a cliff and my recovery suffers both during and after exercise. Whereas some may feel the opposite, and the extra weight just slows them down and tires them out. It's also a matter of training and what you get used to.
I got in a situation similar to this last year, although not nearly as severe as what you are talking about. For me I think it was over training. The harder I pushed myself the slower and more worn out I got. It was frustrating. By the time I got to race time I was exhausted and my performance was less than stellar. I haven't figured out what the solution is really since I still feel like I need to ride longer and harder to be able to do some of the races I have coming up this year and haven't figured out the whole recovery aspect bit but I'm working on it. You have already gotten some good advice and I am sure more will chime in also. Something that hasn't been mentioned and for me it played a huge part is mental fatigue. I tend to get stressed and I got so stressed about my race last year and the fact that my performance was lagging and I wasn't ready and that whole bit that I got totally mentally out of sorts and that just made things worse. So try not to stress out about it too much if you can help it. Make sure you are still having fun.
If worse comes to worse you will have friends along with you at PMBAR that will encourage you (point and laugh at you) while you are bonking on the side of the trail.
Going Downhill(not the fun way)
Might be an un diagnosed case of mono. That's a lot how I felt this past summer and it was because I had mono. I'm finally back up to my normal exercise energy levels 6 months later. I never had the debilitating mono that some people get, just felt like a cold until I was constantly exhausted and that's when I went and got bloodwork done.
What goes up must come down.
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