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  1. #1
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    Knee pain/How to safely increase weekly milage?

    Hey
    I've been riding for about a year now. Usually about 60-80 km weekly of trail riding. Been constantly improving.
    To boost my training I bought an XC HT 29er. Its been about 3 weeks now that I added another city ride of about 50km on the 29er.
    After the rides I started noticing that my right knee hurts on the bottom outside part. The pain usually goes away after I rest 1 day or so.
    There are a bunch of changes that I made that could contribute to the pain:
    1. The new bike
    2. Started riding clipless on the new bike
    3. Never ridden such long distances before at such a speed. I do the 50 km with average speed of 26-28km/h. I rarely ever get that tired and fatigued riding local trails as I get riding the 50k in the park/street (basically I ride "all out" for the entire duration after the warmup of about 5-6 km).
    4. Used to ride 3 times per week, now ride 4/5

    I figured I will drop the milage down and increase it gradually since I don't want to get injured, I train for myself and have no plans to compete until the next year.

    Whats a safe % to increase milage per week? I am planning to drop the 50km ride to about 30km for a few weeks and then gradually increase it.

    When riding long distance, lets say I'm riding at a fast speed, should I try to ride at the biggest gear possible (harder gears?).. thats what I do and I wonder if that may attribute to the knee pain. My quads are literally fried after the ride.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    If you're having knee pain and want to increase your time on the bike then you need to eliminate the knee pain. Since the pain seems to coincide with the new bike I'd go in for a good fitting. Pain can be caused by seat height, seat forward/rearward position, bar position, and cleat position for starters. A good fitter can take some measurements and look at you while on the bike and determine what changes should be made. If you don't have a local fitter you may want to have an experienced rider check your fit out for obvious problems.

  3. #3
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    Certainly worth checking on your fit. But runners do this to themselves too, even without changing shoes. It could just be too much, too soon, at too high an intensity.

    Do a rest week this week.

    Next week, just ride your old volume.

    After that, start increasing your volume about 10%/week. Sprinkle in a rest week every few and don't do every ride like you're being chased. Do some at an endurance pace.

    Are you training for something?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    I am not training for a competition.
    I have some goals I want to achieve. I want to beat specific times on some local trails, get some strava KOMs on longer segments.

    Hopefully at some point compete at enduro events. Overall I have a blast improving my fitness and beating my PRs.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Then don't train - just go riding. I'm planning a season on the track next year and I'm just going riding right now; if I can, you can. There are a lot of dimensions to cycling, not just killing yourself to go faster. And with a year of riding behind you, you don't need to do much to keep improving.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Ok
    I will take it easier
    Thanks

  7. #7
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    Keep the mileage up but decrease the intensity and spin more. It's those hard efforts uphill that give me hints of tendonitis and I know I need to ease up.

  8. #8
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    Its the clipless pedals.

  9. #9
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    I went throguh all these thoughts too at some point and at one point I went to work with a sore knee and by the end of the day it was filled with fluid and pretty much locked up. I had knee pain on and off for years before that and generally rest, stretching, and Ice would cure get right back on the bike sometime with a brace and go until get slight pain again. I had a torn miniscus and some other things wrong that was possibly minor for years no way to tell. If you can visit an ortho do so just to be sure. Since I have researched and tried a lot of things for this I can give you my thoughts take them for what they are worth.

    So as recommend already but to help based on my experience:
    - Take rest as noted above, than jump back in but when jumping back in try other things
    - New Bike Do volume on it first than intensity, if you are not comfortable at the volume no way can you do intense volume
    - If you have your old bike after rest do a similar ride on that bike, do you get the pain than as well?
    - Never been to a fitter but don't be afraid to tweak your fit do one thing at a time and slowly determine if it helped or not
    - Dont always push big gears switch it up and do cadence days if you can track or at least mentally track your cadence on the smoother road sections do so. I know I always have one gravel section that I basically check my cadence on to be around 90. That way I can look through garmin data and know if I was faster I was pushing bigger gears and if comfortable start to pusher bigger gears more often on the trail (Side note just changed to 1x10 on the hardtail so will have to see how that work with this theory)
    - Foam roller, buy one and just do it
    - Stength training I am trying to incoporate some now with the thought it should make me better overall condition and less injury prone time will tell if thetime versus benefit will be realized.

    Good luck and dont over do above all else push yourself but listen to your body at same time.
    Last edited by HEMIjer; 11-25-2013 at 09:44 AM. Reason: typos
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    Its the clipless pedals.
    ^^^^This^^^^^^^^^^

    Most are surprised by how good platforms can be.

    I also suggest periodizing your volume, not just a steady ramp of increasing time over weeks. For example, in minutes months might look like:
    #1 360, 380, 400, 340.
    #2 380, 400, 420, 360 (or even lower)

    Recovery is vital.

  11. #11
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    Knee pain/How to safely increase weekly milage?

    If you've got a new bike and this is your first set of clipless pedals it could be a setup issue. If your cleat position is too far out that can cause knee issues.

    For cleat position you could align them using Steve Hogg's fitting method, as an initial setup for fore-aft position. Find your 1st metatarsal (the bony protrusion behind your big toe) and draw a mark on the shoe at that point. Find your 5th metatarsal (the bony protrusion behind your little toe) and draw a mark on the shoe at that point. Put a ruler between those marks and align the shoe cleat so that it's on that line.

    WHY BIKEFITTERS SHOULDN?T CHEW THEIR NAILS Bike Fit Feet Steve Hogg's Bike Fitting Website

    Steve Hogg fits cleats from Ron Heptinstall on Vimeo.



    Once you've done that note the angle that your feet and heels naturally align to when sitting with your legs hanging over the edge of a table. Try and get the same sort of angle relative to the crank arms when clipped in too. If you have a turbo trainer put your bike on that and experiment to see how it feels.

    For bike position I'd be inclined to try experimenting with fore-aft saddle position. Take some allen keys with you, make a change, ride for a bit considering how it feels and then try another setting. As you get closer to what feels right make smaller changes. I'd start by trying moving the saddle 1cm rearwards on its rails to see if it helps. Try a few variations to see what's best.

    When riding try not to mash or push big gears. If you can keep your cadence a bit higher (you'll often see around 80 to 90rpm recommended) that could help a little too, by putting less strain on your knees.

  12. #12
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    I have knee issues.
    I really wanted to get along with clipless pedals. Everyone else uses them and they seem so cool and they make you more nimble than a mountain goat and give you 30% more climbing power. BUT... the screw up my knee something fierce. Period. The finer points have been beaten to death so I won't go over them, but bottom line is they are rough on your knees because they throw off your mechanics and force you into an unnatural motion.

    I was really bummed about this, I felt like less of a man, some poser riding little kid pedals. Then I got some decent flats (Gusset Slim Jims) and decent shoes (5.10 Dirtbags) and they felt real good. My knee even feels better after riding in this setup than when I spend time off the bike. And that helping hand on the climbs? I typically pass my clipped in buddies as they teeter over on the uphills, so I don't drink that Kool-Aide anymore.

  13. #13
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    Hi, it's not clip less pedals per se that cause the problem, but the tendency for people to get the placement wrong with clip less then ride with it = injury

    WR304 may have just saved you an inordinate amount of time and pain.

    Personally, my knee pain is caused by 2 things, pushing harder gears, so is associated with quad pain, and also when my seat post has dropped low.

    Most mountain bikers ride with a seat too low and a seat too far rearward IMO for efficiency and will also be stressing the knee ligaments

    Set up set up set up, the spin - mashing is much harder on your knees and it is not efficient either.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    If you've got a new bike and this is your first set of clipless pedals it could be a setup issue. If your cleat position is too far out that can cause knee issues.

    For cleat position you could align them using Steve Hogg's fitting method, as an initial setup for fore-aft position. Find your 1st metatarsal (the bony protrusion behind your big toe) and draw a mark on the shoe at that point. Find your 5th metatarsal (the bony protrusion behind your little toe) and draw a mark on the shoe at that point. Put a ruler between those marks and align the shoe cleat so that it's on that line.

    WHY BIKEFITTERS SHOULDN?T CHEW THEIR NAILS Bike Fit Feet Steve Hogg's Bike Fitting Website

    Steve Hogg fits cleats from Ron Heptinstall on Vimeo.



    Once you've done that note the angle that your feet and heels naturally align to when sitting with your legs hanging over the edge of a table. Try and get the same sort of angle relative to the crank arms when clipped in too. If you have a turbo trainer put your bike on that and experiment to see how it feels.

    For bike position I'd be inclined to try experimenting with fore-aft saddle position. Take some allen keys with you, make a change, ride for a bit considering how it feels and then try another setting. As you get closer to what feels right make smaller changes. I'd start by trying moving the saddle 1cm rearwards on its rails to see if it helps. Try a few variations to see what's best.

    When riding try not to mash or push big gears. If you can keep your cadence a bit higher (you'll often see around 80 to 90rpm recommended) that could help a little too, by putting less strain on your knees.

    This should be required reading for people looking to go clipless.
    Editor In Chief, "Internet Tough Guy Magazine"
    "Home of Chuck Norris' Keyboard"

  15. #15
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    I would have it checked out by a dr. or physical therapist, -just to be sure you're not going to aggravate an injury. I have had some persistent knee pain that is mostly due to tight hamstrings, a physical therapist coached me on my stretching. It's a long road but getting better, and I am due for some easy riding weeks soon too.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the replies.

    Yesterday I rode my city bike with flat pedals and noticed that my feet are naturally pointing outwards \ / when riding. I will adjust the cleat position to suit the natural feet direction, hopefully that will help.
    It will be a bummer if I won't be able to get along with cleats as they are super fun and feel way better than flats.

  17. #17
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    I'm a bit duck-footed too. On the mountain bike, rotating the cleats to agree with my natural stance and the angular float my pedals have has been enough to address the angle.

    Another part of the puzzle is arch support. I use fancy insoles, and cant wedges in some shoes. Some shoes now have that built in.

    The road bike gets Speedplays, which have crazy amounts of float.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by we78 View Post
    There are a bunch of changes that I made that could contribute to the pain:
    1. The new bike
    2. Started riding clipless on the new bike
    3. Never ridden such long distances before at such a speed.
    Most likely it is a bit of all 3 contributing to your new knee pain. As has been mentioned, the new bike may not have the exact same fit as your previous bike. The cleats and amount of float your pedals allow may need adjusting. And your increase in distance and speed may not be providing enough rest and recovery between efforts for you to adjust and adapt.

    Quote Originally Posted by we78 View Post
    Whats a safe % to increase milage per week?
    There's more than sheer mileage to think about based on different efforts when building in recovery rides, rest and efforts with more intensity. Worth reading up on structured training. Sounds like you have been going hard and long with your new bike.

    If I had to grab a percentage out of the air, I probably would grab something like 10% as a figure to not exceed. Not only on a weekly basis, but also on monthly and annual if one has been training before.

    Quote Originally Posted by we78 View Post
    ...basically I ride "all out" for the entire duration after the warmup of about 5-6 km). Used to ride 3 times per week, now ride 4/5
    This is not really a good strategy to ride "all out" 4 to 5 times per week and could very well be contributing to your new knee pain. Learn about recovery rides, and lower intensity rides where you might ride 30-60-90 minutes in what is known as a recovery ride where your effort (wattage and heart rate) remain in Zone 1/2. Or even going on longer distance rides at a lower effort. Or rather than going "all out" once you warm up - maybe contrain your "all out" effort to a 20 minute interval, then back off and recover for 10 or 20 minutes before doing another interval with all of the riding before, between and after those efforts being backed off in terms of intensity.

    Regardless, it sounds like you ramped up your riding and effort all too soon and need to back off, and build things slower. This will allow your knee and body to recover and is pretty standard stuff when it comes to getting hours in each week on the bike.

    Best of luck healing that knee and getting things figured out, but it sounds like it is a combination of the 3 items you mentioned in your original post - new bike, clipless, and going too hard/too often.

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