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  1. #1
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    How often should you take a break? (for the over 40 crowd)

    After having several humbling racing experiences early this past season I decided it was high time to make some improvements. I wasn't in bad shape last year but certainly not where I though I was. Over the last several months I've been pushing myself a bit harder and have been following a loose intervals schedule sprinkled with some longer low intensity rides.

    Heres' the rough breakdown: 3 20 mile mountain bike rides with mixed terrain of short punchy climbs, rolling singletrack and one 15 minute technical lung burner at the end. Usually one longish road bike ride and a few road bike rides in lieu of the trail riding during the week of approx 30 miles with some pretty decent climbs. So I'm normally getting out 4 times a week 2 hours minimum at a shot.

    The last few weeks I haven't been riding as much and when I do I feel totally beat the next day, like I need to sleep in until noon. I normally get a full nights sleep but as of late I feel like my level of fitness is going backwards and I just feel tired a lot. Is this just my body telling me to take it easy for a bit or the deeper issue of age creeping up on me?

  2. #2
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    how many total hours per week are you talking about?
    how many hours is "haven't been riding as much"?
    Your lack of specific metrics is what I am noticing. Do you have a system for tracking your riding?
    I am a fan of Strava for gauging personal perfomance. I have segments set up for all my regular climbs etc, and I can see how I am doing compared to past efforts very easily. And it precisely tracks the ride time. For me, the more I ride, the stronger I get. I am no pro, and a big week is 8+ hours. Once I get over the 7 hours per week mark, I get a lot faster. That seems to be my threshold.

    Also, I too have humbling racing experiences, despite riding just as much as others in my classes. For me, I weigh 195 lbs. This alone puts me at the back of the pack (unless it is an endurance race where I end up mid pack). Weight is a big deal in cycling.

  3. #3
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    8 hours a week is not much....even at 40. There are guys in their 60s hitting it much harder than that.

    Maybe you are just getting a little run down and perhaps your body is fighting something off sorta thing.

    If you have always been able to do 8 hrs a week at this same intensity and just can't seem to get over your current run-down feeling, go to a doc and get checked out.

    Good luck.

    .02

  4. #4
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    probably moreso than "hours" us old farts need to keep track of intensity/training load. If you don't have a powermeter, you can use the FREE version of TrainingPeaks to estimate your "TSS" scores from your ride (or other exercise) based on HR.

    Last year my coach switched me to a 2 on / 1 off during the build period as recovery from the higher intensities slowed down enough.

  5. #5
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    Watch the intensity

    50+ here with nearly 30 years of road and MTB racing and training:

    I now find that, while intensity is critical, my recovery is not what it once was day-to-day.
    I also have some 20-30 mile MTB rides outside my door that fit your ride description, and those rides always leave me flat the next day (or maybe two).
    I find that managing intensity on MTB rides in such terrain to be difficult.
    The only time I do such rides on successive days would be during a buildup to one of my infrequent races.
    On the flip side, taking the off days "off" leaves me flat for the day following the off day.
    So, instead of taking days off, I usually do an hour on the trainer in the early(!) morning at an easy aerobic pace (Z1/Z2, no hard breathing) while catching up on my TV watching. I find that I feel much better recovered after such trainer sessions, and better able to handle the upcoming intense or long rides.
    The only reason I take days completely off is for family, work, or other life reasons. Keeping the old body in motion is helpful. It feels better.
    The trainer is the best way I know to manage the intensity properly during off days.

    Good luck,

    BP

    Quote Originally Posted by PdlPwr View Post
    After having several humbling racing experiences early this past season I decided it was high time to make some improvements. I wasn't in bad shape last year but certainly not where I though I was. Over the last several months I've been pushing myself a bit harder and have been following a loose intervals schedule sprinkled with some longer low intensity rides.

    Heres' the rough breakdown: 3 20 mile mountain bike rides with mixed terrain of short punchy climbs, rolling singletrack and one 15 minute technical lung burner at the end. Usually one longish road bike ride and a few road bike rides in lieu of the trail riding during the week of approx 30 miles with some pretty decent climbs. So I'm normally getting out 4 times a week 2 hours minimum at a shot.

    The last few weeks I haven't been riding as much and when I do I feel totally beat the next day, like I need to sleep in until noon. I normally get a full nights sleep but as of late I feel like my level of fitness is going backwards and I just feel tired a lot. Is this just my body telling me to take it easy for a bit or the deeper issue of age creeping up on me?

  6. #6
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    I don't keep a log and chart my progress per se however I ride the same rides frequently and use Strava as well. Perhaps I should take a more regimented approach. I have been consistently hitting the 6-10 hr a week mark up until the last 3 weeks or so and have backed down to 5-8 hrs with some trainer time. I do have a fairly physical job and sprinkle in some upper body weight training as well. I'm 5'7" and 162 lbs. I'd like to be 155 but I'm not really restricting myself to get there. My diet is pretty good as well, not perfect but I'm certainly not living on fast food.

    The strange thing is that I felt better last year but only put in 1/2-2/3 the effort. I'm not looking to be a cat 1 podium placer but I'd still like to be able to mix it up from time to time. My goal is to be much closer to the front than I was last year at the Stoopid 50 coming this June. I know that's a far a way but it kicked my ass last year and I want to be ready this time around. I tend to overdo it from time to time and I just don't want to burn myself out between now and then.

    B Parr you nailed it with keeping the old body in motion. I had a long lay off from riding until 4 years ago. I have arthritis and was stiff weak and miserable. Getting back in shape has given me many more good days than bad. If I sit around very much the stiffness creeps in rather quickly and I don't want to give up any hard earned ground to that enemy.

  7. #7
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    I'm nearly 47 and I find that I can handle pretty good training hours.

    I typically do 10-14 hours "on" weeks and 7-8 hours "off" weeks. 2-1 schedule like Walt Disney but all season long. I really concentrate on getting good aerobic riding volume with specific interval work sprinkled in. I definitely don't go crazy with the hard riding which causes problems with us older guys. I do most my riding bike commuting in the aerobic zone with intervals or speed work thrown in. I usually get on the MTB once or twice a week. I ride 6 days a week, Mondays off.

    I believe the main reason I handle it well is because I have no kids at home, and low stress job. My employer is super flexible with the work hours. I go to work after I wake up (I don't even use an alarm), which is usually early anyway.
    Head Coach, Ben Lomond HS MTB Team
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  8. #8
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    At 45 turning 46 next week, I have a full time job, a 7 year old and 2 dogs. My time is fairly tight. I went with a coach to fine tune my training, and get the best punch out of my time training. With saying that I normally do not take breaks with training,( unless I'm sick or holidays of some sort) just mental intensity breaks while training. I have a good coach who will actually take the time to make sure there is some "fun" in the training part of riding. I mean why do it if it can't be enjoyable.

  9. #9
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    I'm far from qualified to speak on training or physiology -- but when has that ever stopped anyone from making comments on the Internet. So with that caveat, I think it's difficult at best to get an opinion on whether you need a break, have too many hours in, etc. over the Internet. Not only do we are all different as far as the training loads that our bodies can handle, but our non-training hours are different as well. If you take two people that would otherwise be identical in what their optimal training loads would be, but one works a 40 hour week in a low stress job and doesn't have kids is going to be able to handle a higher training load than the other fellow who works a 55 hour week in a high stress environment and then goes home to deal with the "logisitics" of 4 kids.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by PdlPwr View Post
    Is this just my body telling me to take it easy for a bit or the deeper issue of age creeping up on me?
    It's a good question, a simple question, but it can't be answered on this forum, or any forum. Why? Because nobody on a forum will ever get to know you well enough to give you individual advice that has a high probability of being relevant to your specific circumstances. General advice can be helpful, but just as easily it can be harmful (depending on the advice and how it is deployed). Over the years I've seen some real good advice on these forums, but I've seen some absolutely terrible advice.

    Here's the thing... every single athlete is different from the person standing next to them. Not only different physiologically, but also emotionally and psychologically. Just looking at the physiology aspect; are you on meds, is your pre and post nutrition what it needs to be, do you have a thyroid issue, are you getting enough deep REM, do you have recovery protocols, hydration, low level inflammation, anaemia, good on-bike nutrition, stress responses, and etc, and etc, and... etc. There are soooooo many reasons that you could be feeling the way you do. Physiological, emotional and psychological are pretty big subjects.

    And then there's trg. Riding a bike is easy and fun, racing is hard (but should still be fun). Riding and/or racing was easier at 30 but it gets more complicated at 50. Training for races, and healthy results, is more complicated than 'just hours'. Every week it's a balance between the correct volume, intensity and targets for that particular week, based on what preceded that week and what's coming up over the next couple of weeks. Structured, goal oriented, specific, measurable, challenging, realistic, fun, plateau busting, when to do HIIT and when not to, how to combine things in order to keep forging ahead, when to go into recovery, determining baseline shifts, knowing when to add pressure etc, etc, and etc.

    Self coaching is hard, but it can be done. Self coaching isn't the optimal path to your best performances, but if you have lots of time to experiment, the experience, knowledge, and insight to recognize when things are going well or going off the rails... it might work out. It doesn't sound like it's working well for you at the moment, maybe you should start asking around your region to see if anyone has any recommendations for a real good coach who can help sort some things out. Maybe think about 2-3mths of coaching so you can get on top of things again.

    I could write another 30 paragraphs, and I would, but sadly I don't have the time. I do get what you are going through. I'm 50yrs old, and I race a fair bit, with most of it being 24hr Solo based. I race for the podium and sometimes I get lucky. It's not easy, and it doesn't get any easier the older I get. More appropriate to this topic, I coach a lot of 'over 40 crowd' most of them being high performance road and mtb racers, I see quite a lot of age related issues and opportunities for improvement that requires intelligent handling. Not everyone can squeeze onto a podium, but in my opinion it's not so much about podiums, rather it is about executing to the best of your ability week after week, year after year. Then one day, with a bit of luck, that podium gets a whole lot closer.

  11. #11
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    It may have been mentioned already in the words above, but do you take your heart rate in the morning?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PdlPwr View Post
    After having several humbling racing experiences early this past season I decided it was high time to make some improvements. I wasn't in bad shape last year but certainly not where I though I was. Over the last several months I've been pushing myself a bit harder and have been following a loose intervals schedule sprinkled with some longer low intensity rides.

    Heres' the rough breakdown: 3 20 mile mountain bike rides with mixed terrain of short punchy climbs, rolling singletrack and one 15 minute technical lung burner at the end. Usually one longish road bike ride and a few road bike rides in lieu of the trail riding during the week of approx 30 miles with some pretty decent climbs. So I'm normally getting out 4 times a week 2 hours minimum at a shot.

    The last few weeks I haven't been riding as much and when I do I feel totally beat the next day, like I need to sleep in until noon. I normally get a full nights sleep but as of late I feel like my level of fitness is going backwards and I just feel tired a lot. Is this just my body telling me to take it easy for a bit or the deeper issue of age creeping up on me?
    I can vouch for the creeping up of age and needed time for recovery (I'm in the over 50 crowd), but remember well what it has felt like going from age 40 and mountain biking to age 52.

    Have you read Joe Friel's The Mt. Biker's Training Bible? He, and others, call our age as a unique need and use the label veterans or masters athletes. Friel, as well as others, will talk about the more frequent need of recovery for an athlete this age and guide one in how to structure a training week, block, season, and year in terms of details.

    Good for you that you are getting in a minimum of 8 hours on the bike every week, but how does this fit into your overall training blocks, season, year, etc...? Do you do every ride at the same intensity and cover the same ground more or less the same way every time? Do you ever do a 5 or 6 hour week with a lot less intensity?

    One of the ideas promoted by Friel and others is that for the master or veteran athlete, a difference may be that during a training block, rather than training 3 weeks followed by a recovery week, the older athlete will train for 2 weeks followed by a recovery week. A lot of that has been discussed here with regard to that, but you might want to review what you have done over the past few months of pushing yourself a bit harder to see if you did allow for recovery weeks following some of that hard pushing week after week.

    It's pretty hard to recover on a mountain bike ride on singletrack, so if you are knocking out 3 rides on the dirt per week with a minimum duration of 2 hours per ride, and on your longer distance road ride each week hitting the hills hard, I'd say you don't have enough recovery rides structured into your week. If it were me, I'd yank the middle one of those 2 hour dirt rides out of your week, and do a 30 - 90 minute recovery ride on the road bike staying in Zone 1/2 (easy riding) to start things off.

    Your current minimum of 8 hours which include intensity in all rides could be contributing to your body wanting to sleep in until noon and feeling generally tired. Too much information lacking to make any sort of a diagnosis, but the nutrition and hydration element is also key in your recovery.

    I'd suggest reading Friel, and or purchasing a training plan(s) from Training Peaks for the over 40 veteran or masters athelete that fits what you are trying to accomplish (XC, endurance, build, base, etc...).

    BB

  13. #13
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    To the OP: I actually purchased and followed the following plan this past year, so can attest to having the structure mapped out for me rather than guessing and formulating my own as being a nice way to go. I continued with her build, peak, race plan which also was beneficial. Lynda designd the plan with the CAT 1 XC racer in mind, but it also works for the CAT 2 Masters athletes as well.

    Here's part of the description of the base plan from Training Peaks...

    Masters 40+ Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan

    Author: Lynda Wallenfels

    12 weeks - $99.99
    Total Hours: 134

    Consistency – Strength – Skills – Intensity - Recovery


    This plan is designed specifically for the Masters athlete. A 20 year old athlete has different natural abilities and training requirements than a 40 year old athlete and will thrive on a different training plan. The most obvious change with age is a slowdown in recovery. With age there is less time and room to absorb training mistakes. A Masters athlete excels on a targeted and specific plan. This LW Coaching masters XC Base training plan works on a three week training cycle, two training weeks then one recovery week, to match fitness development and recovery cycle of the Master athlete.

    Athletes “age” at different rates. This masters 40+ plan might be appropriate for a 30 year old with natural slow recovery.

    Consistency: This the most important factor for a masters athlete. “Use it or lose it” is a big element in continued performance with age. The more frequent recovery weeks in this plan promote increased consistency by keeping the athlete below the overtraining, injury and burnout threshold.

    12 week periodized strength program: This masters base plan contains a 12 week periodized strength program. Aging is linked with loss of bone and muscle mass in sedentary adults over the age of 35 years but not in active athletes. Use it or lose it. Increasing muscular strength increases resilience to injury, contributes to consistency and keeps you in the game as you age.

    Weekly technical ride skills practice: Weekly skills practice is in this plan. Use it or lose it definitely applies to technical mountain bike ride skills for masters racing at cross country speeds. This season, train to be the athlete who can make up time in the technical areas.

    Weekly intensity sessions: This plan contains weekly on the bike intensity sessions to increase threshold, increase testosterone release, maintain muscle mass and lower the likelihood of injury. Focus is on higher quality and less quantity. Weekly training plan hours range from 9 to 12 hours/week.

    This plan is paced by Power (watts), heart rate and perceived exertion. A heart rate monitor is recommended to follow this training plan. A power meter is an optional (and highly advantageous) extra. A power meter is not required to successfully follow this training plan. Most cycling workouts in this plan contain both power and heart rate pacing instructions. In week one you will set heart rate zones, power training levels (if you have power available) and a performance benchmark with a field test. This test is repeated in weeks 6 and 12 to track performance improvements, power increases and check your heart rate zones are accurate.

    Visit the LW Coaching website LW Coaching - Mountain Bike Training and Racing to ask training plan questions on our forum, read mountain bike specific training articles, learn new workouts and see what events our coaches and athletes have been racing.

    After completing this 12 week training plan progress to the LW Coaching Masters 40+ Cross Country Mountain Bike, Build, Peak and Race plan or the Masters 40+ 100 miler Personal Record training plan.

  14. #14
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    48yrs old here; like many of the others above 2 weeks on 1 week recovery. I noticed that you didn't mentioned recovery at all in your initial post. My normal weeks are in the 12hr range; recovery will be down into 8hrs and not much if anything over zone 2. It is a painfully slow week.

    If you haven't done a recovery week, then that is the problem. If you are doing these, then you are likely just fighting off a bug.

  15. #15
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    OP:

    Also, after just scanning through everyones' solid responses, I did not see any mention of recovery methods.

    Perhaps you already have this dialed, but you desperately need to pay attention to this is it is being neglected.

    A effective recovery drink consumed right after workout can really help you feel better the following day....especially after a higher intensity workout.

    Also proper food shortly after can play a major role in recovery.

    Hydrate also properly during and after rides!

    Fish oil helps and so does branch chain amino acids imo.

    I remember being in my 20s and pretty much neglecting all of the above items and feeling just fine the next day. Now at age 40, I need to pay attention more or else I pay the consequences...lethargic with hurting legs.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Perhaps you already have this dialed, but you desperately need to pay attention to this is it is being neglected.

    A effective recovery drink consumed right after workout can really help you feel better the following day....especially after a higher intensity workout.

    I remember being in my 20s and pretty much neglecting all of the above items and feeling just fine the next day. Now at age 40, I need to pay attention more or else I pay the consequences...lethargic with hurting legs.
    I can't comment on the aging issues as I am only 30, but I can vouch for the importance of proper recovery as I tend to train using a few consecutive hard days, followed by a few rest days. Use of a recovery drink enables me to tackle the next day feel pretty fresh.

    You doesn't need to take an expensive protein powder however AIS has done research that suggests 500ml of chocolate milk is just as good (I use this), but also foods high in protein will help post workout.

    Rest as hard as you train; if I am feeling flat on the day a proposed intense workout and I am not hitting the mark, I will back off and make it a recovery ride. There are plenty of miles in a season, and that 30 miles isn't going to make or break it for you (unless it's a race :-P); quite often the day following is one of the best!




    Linda W's plans are good, I used one a few years ago - she also offers quite a bit of support if needed once the plan is purchased. I emailed her quiet a few questions, about various workouts, shuffling days, etc... and was always responded with a friendly email, very helpful.
    Cul is a regretted trademark of the CulBaire Co'op Pty Ltd, as are his random ramblings and associated ********.

  17. #17
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    I don't think I'm doing the recovery ride part of the equation properly. I pretty much have been doing the same rides but had been pushing for an over all faster average pace and really focusing on pushing through the recovery after a hard climb. I felt I had sort of plateaued and was just pushing a faster pace to move beyond. Maybe just asking a little more than my body could give and still feel ok. I can't really do dairy so that limits my recovery drink options a bit. Diet includes mostly rice, beans, nuts, fruits, lean meats and steel cut oats. (and some greens too)

    I do have some structure to the routine but it sounds like I may need to put a bit more emphasis that and keep an actual log of my progress. I know it's hard to really give exact answers with a little information on a message board. I was mainly curious as to whether or not I'm just getting older and need to accept what comes with that and if it's normal to feel a bit run down after a hard effort. I've kind always though of getting older as something for other people not myself.

  18. #18
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by PdlPwr View Post
    I don't think I'm doing the recovery ride part of the equation properly. I pretty much have been doing the same rides but had been pushing for an over all faster average pace and really focusing on pushing through the recovery after a hard climb. I felt I had sort of plateaued and was just pushing a faster pace to move beyond. Maybe just asking a little more than my body could give and still feel ok. I can't really do dairy so that limits my recovery drink options a bit. Diet includes mostly rice, beans, nuts, fruits, lean meats and steel cut oats. (and some greens too)

    I do have some structure to the routine but it sounds like I may need to put a bit more emphasis that and keep an actual log of my progress. I know it's hard to really give exact answers with a little information on a message board. I was mainly curious as to whether or not I'm just getting older and need to accept what comes with that and if it's normal to feel a bit run down after a hard effort. I've kind always though of getting older as something for other people not myself.
    1. Dairy is not the only source of protein.

    2. Properly trained, you are not old enough to be so "run down" after such minimal riding.

    3. When most of us speak of "recovery", we are not talking about recovery DURING the ride, but instead right when the ride is OVER....nutrition/hydration-wise!!

    It sounds more like you are looking for a reason...a convenient one! Again, there are guys in their 50s and 60s that would laugh at this. I personally know quite a few.

    Dial it all in and read some books or articles if you really want to improve and not feel so beat after your rides.

    I hope that does not sound mean....just trying to help. I hope it works out for you.

  19. #19
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    How often should you take a break? (for the over 40 crowd)

    How many weeks at a time do you do a hard effort week? Most training plans follow Joe Friel's advice on periodization - 2-3 hard weeks followed by one light week. Interesting thread...
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
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  20. #20
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    I'd only been feeling really tired the last month or so. I'll agree I wasn't really taking any easy weeks. It's snowy and pretty cold this week so I'm just doing some light work and I'll see if that helps. Sounds like I need a more structured plan and to pay closer attention to the post ride meal, I don't always eat right away. I do have arthritis and during the colder temps that can flair up, which it has and the low grade pain can cause some fatigue as well.

    I don't mind taking a little break from the bike over the winter not that I won't ride at all. I just don't want to take a big loss on what I've worked for over the last year (sure we've all been there).

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PdlPwr View Post
    I'd only been feeling really tired the last month or so. I'll agree I wasn't really taking any easy weeks. It's snowy and pretty cold this week so I'm just doing some light work and I'll see if that helps. Sounds like I need a more structured plan and to pay closer attention to the post ride meal, I don't always eat right away. I do have arthritis and during the colder temps that can flair up, which it has and the low grade pain can cause some fatigue as well.

    I don't mind taking a little break from the bike over the winter not that I won't ride at all. I just don't want to take a big loss on what I've worked for over the last year (sure we've all been there).
    A recovery week is typically 4, 5, 6 days (depending on one's needs) where you use active recovery (spinning in Zone 1/2) on the bike for shorter duration.

    Joe Friel - Recovery Week Design

    Slow Spin Recovery: Bicycle Training Tips | Bicycling Magazine

  22. #22
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    Pretty sure not taking enough recovery time is part of the problem. I sort felt if I wasn't out bouncing off the rev limiter a couple of times each session I wasn't doing enough. I guess you really shouldn't do that day in and day out.

  23. #23
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    Joe Friel put together a bunch of articles for the past few months on older athletes, it now looks like he is writing a book now specific for athletes over 40. Pretty interesting stuff to read:
    Joe Friel

  24. #24
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    How often should you take a break? (for the over 40 crowd)

    Quote Originally Posted by PdlPwr View Post
    Pretty sure not taking enough recovery time is part of the problem. I sort felt if I wasn't out bouncing off the rev limiter a couple of times each session I wasn't doing enough. I guess you really shouldn't do that day in and day out.
    Yeah, it is surprising how tiring the high intensity work can really be. In one sense that's a good sign that it is working. But those easy zone 1-2 rides and good sleeps are really important afterward. The body needs rest to repair itself and regenerate which is actually what builds up strength. Unfortunately the older we get the longer this takes. Friel's book or Linda Wallenfels plans are really helpful.
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  25. #25
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    I am 43, usually when I feel like this my diet or sleep has been changed. I ride 8-15 hours per week. The only thing I do is always mix up different styles of riding to build in recovery rides.

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