Stretch before you commute?!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Stretch before you commute?!

    So I have a question for all the commuters out there (Rodar this means you!)...

    My wife and I have been officially a one car family for going on 4 months now and we are loving it. She has even taken up commuting to her salon (about a mile from the house) on her beach cruiser when she is not crazy booked.

    Anyways, my normal commute is 3 miles one way and semi flat (I think, gonna Strava it tonight). I commute everyday and sometimes will run the occasional errand on the bike or will do a quick training run with a biker friend on lunch (we normally do about 10 miles on lunch but have done as much as 20).

    So this last weekend I had my first mtb race and really liked it (even though I placed 8th out of 9 in my class.. ouch) and would like to do it more. However, I am noticing that by the end of the week my legs are pretty much dead, like this morning when they really did not want to pedal.

    Now I am taking a promotion with another department in a couple weeks and my commute will literally be doubling. I am starting to dread this as if my legs feel this dead after only doing 6 miles a day, what the hell are they going to feel like after doing 12!!!

    So do you guys stretch at all before you jump on ye olde commuter bike? I really want to get stronger for mtb racing and everyone keeps saying that road biking is a good way to do that (really need to work on the endurance and climbing speed). Am I doing something wrong?

  2. #2
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    I stretch every morning so yeah....

    but that doesn't solve dead legs form "overtraining"....

    When you legs feel dead... back off the mileage and/or the percieved effort..

    Since you commute you "can't" stop completely.....

    Then when the legs come back you go harder again....

    It is called periodization in the training books and it works well...

    Start easy and increase...for 3 or so weeks... then back off for a week....then start ramping up again...

    Remember no more than 6 days a week...

    Remember no more than a 25% increase in mileage week to week....

    It gives the body a chance to heal, and grow stronger....much better training effect..

  3. #3
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    So basically I should push pretty hard for about 3 weeks or until the legs feel dead, then the following week just make sure I leave extra early and take my time getting there, right?!

    Yeah thing that sucks about Northern NV is right now is the windy season. So on most days on the way home this is what my ride looks like (this is a head wind the entire time)

    Untitled by renofizz, on Flickr

    It is a relief the days that I get below 15mph winds on the way home. This morning was especially sucky because I had 15mph headwind going to work. With the legs already feeling dead you know that sucked!

  4. #4
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    stretching before a workout has been shown to be pretty useless to the workout and may actually reduce your performance. now stretching is good in its own right, but if you're doing it to specifically reduce soreness from workouts, you're better off stretching after your workout once your muscles are already warmed up.

  5. #5
    Vincit qui patitur
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    I do stretch every morning whether I ride or not.
    I ride about 7 miles a day monday through thursday. Sometimes I just cruise and sometimes I race myself for a harder workout.
    I take friday off and ride hard on saturdays.
    Sunday fiancee and I ride 20-40 miles on our tandem cruiser.
    The aches will go away.
    I've been back riding for 4-5 weeks after being off for 20-25 years and thought the aches would never go away.
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  6. #6
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    I stretch before every ride, commute or training ride. Otherwise, I eat a lot of bacon, drink a lot of beer, and benchpress my two sons (30 repetitions of each) every evening (oldest son is 60 lbs., other one is 40 lbs.). Works great!
    Donít frail and blow if youíre going to Braille and Flow.

  7. #7
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    I wish I did, but I'm not really disciplined enough, unless motivated by a particular nagging malady. Then it feels great and I say "I should do this all the time" - oh well!

    The other thing I try to do if I feel wimpy is have a few higher protein meals.

    I think you will be fine on the longer commute, the warm-up is often the hardest part.

  8. #8
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    So I have a question for all the commuters out there (Rodar this means you!)...
    I feel honored
    ...which is why I`ll probably be disappointing when I say I`m sure the other guys (especially the competetive ones) undoubtedly have a better idea of what`s important along the lines of body and fitness stuff. Personally, I don`t stretch.

    Twelve miles a day are going to add up fast, but I`m sure you can handle it if you take it easy when you have to. Do you have any backup method to get in if you`re really beat?

    So, your wife is following your example by riding in sometimes? Cool!

  9. #9
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    I agree with NateHawk, stretching is more important after your ride, you can warm up by taking it easy at first but post ride when the muscles are completely warm its good practice to stretch.

  10. #10
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    I stretch after I ride.

    I'm no trainer, but I'd suggest adjusting your pace as you increase your mileage. Give yourself plenty of time to ride to work so you don't have to haul the whole way. Give yourself a couple miles to warm up. Jumping from 6 to 12 miles per day is going to be noticeable but should be doable if you eat right and give yourself plenty of time.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    So basically I should push pretty hard for about 3 weeks or until the legs feel dead, then the following week just make sure I leave extra early and take my time getting there, right?!Well pretty much

    Yeah thing that sucks about Northern NV is right now is the windy season. So on most days on the way home this is what my ride looks like (this is a head wind the entire time)Get aero and spin

    It is a relief the days that I get below 15mph winds on the way home. This morning was especially sucky because I had 15mph headwind going to work. With the legs already feeling dead you know that sucked!
    Whenever your legs are dead you need to back off....if you get everthing yet that might end up being about 3 weeks harder 1 week easy,

    In the wind most people will try to turn their normal gear which is way too high....back off and spin a low gear...this allows you to then get aero with the rest of your body....

    Then realize it is gonna be a longer ride than normal....voila you are home.

    To get aero straighten you back lean forward from the hips..(don't hunch)....

    Get the arms and legs straight and in tight to the body....relax the elbows and bring them in tight to the body...

    Then every twenty seconds repeat the mantra:

    straight back (pretend a helicopter is pulling straight up your spine through your head...

    lenn forward from the hips...

    Get the arms and legs in tight

    Relax the elbows bring them in tight..

    Oh yeah and find someone to draft with....works the best...

    I picked up a guy for 5 km out of 10 km into the wind last night...
    Last edited by jeffscott; 05-25-2012 at 07:50 AM.

  12. #12
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    When you stretch doesn't really matter...(nor does it fix dead legs)....

    As you get older....stretching starts to matter more and more...

    Yes you need warm muscles to reach maximum limits for a stretch...but you don't have to max stretch everytime.

    So do it when it is convienent...do it often...enjoy it like a cat....

    Same applies to rides you need warm muscles to go hard...but you don't have to go hard everytime...

    So do it when it is convienent...do it often...enjoy it like a lopping dog does.

  13. #13
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I stretch at random times when I'm sore or tight from riding (or most recently, running...not my thing but I'm trying it out). This usually means right after a hard workout or some random time in the evening around the house. I don't stretch prior to the ride/run. Originally I didn't because I was lazy, and now I don't because of what Natehawk said... I read an article or something that justified skipping it, so I latched on to that and haven't had to suffer through the pre-workout stretch since
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  14. #14
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    Ok so here is the Strava from this morning. Legs were feeling a bit better than yesterday but still not a lot of mustard, so I backed off and took it easier. I did hit one full red light but other lights were pretty quick (normally can time it right). There was a light breeze, probables >10mph.
    <iframe height='405' width='590' frameborder='0' allowtransparency='true' scrolling='no' src='http://app.strava.com/runs/9307454/embed/20a973f87453eebe2569addf367e68364237d5c1'></iframe>

    However, here is last night (had to run an errand and the wife had taken the car so just ran straight to her salon) comparatively with the 25+mph headwind. Once I get into the neighborhoods it isnt so bad as the houses and trees will break up the gusts, but when you hit crossings and what not, yeah that sucks.
    <iframe height='405' width='590' frameborder='0' allowtransparency='true' scrolling='no' src='http://app.strava.com/runs/9306031/embed/82d9fe3f7dc4ae0551501d3fcdf5dc06d74db699'></iframe>

    See the mph difference! In a normal straight where I can push up to 25mph when pushing hard, I was struggling to hit 15!

  15. #15
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    See the mph difference! In a normal straight where I can push up to 25mph when pushing hard, I was struggling to hit 15!
    Imagine that!
    Sorry to pick on you Greg, but noting that winds can cut your speed in half (or worse) is akin to going outside in the middle of the night and being surprised that you can`t see! It`s just a fact of life, and we all have to deal with it. On the bright side, even though we often say otherwise, you will sometimes get a magical tailwind. Well, maybe

    FWIW, we aren`t the only ones with wind. I`m sure there are places with less, but there are also places where it`s much worse. Hang in there!

    Hey, so you have some alternate method of getting to and from work "just in case"? Is the bus feasible? Maybe a rideshare option from the new location? If you can work something out, you might feel a lot better with a no ride day in the middle of the week, not to mention the next time you get up with a nasty flu and the idea of riding 6 miles sounds like a sentence.

  16. #16
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    LOL.. thanks Rodar, yeah I was doing that more to show that we really do have those winds.
    Anyways, yes I do have the car if I need it. The wife can always drop me off or I can take it and she has the option to ride to work. Like I said her salon is only about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile from the house so getting there is not hard for her, it is just lugging everything she needs to take with her. The first week of the new job I will be driving in as I will be doing all kinds of fun orientation stuff and working different hours for the first couple weeks as opposed to what the hours I do now.

  17. #17
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    I don't stretch myself, but I take the first 15 minutes of my commute on he flat to warm the legs up. I've also found that spinning a higher cadence stops my legs from burning out (and I also seem to get faster times).

  18. #18
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    I don't stretch before exercise. At least, for running, static stretching makes you go a little slower. Not sure about biking, but probably a similar thing applies. Stretching after is fine/might be helpful for you.

    Warming up with some easier effort before applying full power is a good idea.

  19. #19
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    I'm late to the party but I'll throw another vote for NateHawk. Cold muscles shouldn't be stretched. Start your ride at a noticeably slow pace. In a mile or so you will be able to push harder than if you started hard from the start. Here's the principal I follow.

    I do a Door Stretch (Second one down) after my ride if I'm not already late, so about 20% of the time.

    For days when your legs need a rest use active recovery, give yourself extra time and do a consciously easy ride. Pretend you are just out for pleasure and have all the time in the world. I generally ride fast trying to beat my times but I find rest days to be a nice change. Try to keep your heart rate below some minimum number like 60%.

  20. #20
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    "You ever see a lion limber up before it takes down a gazelle?"

    i usually start pretty slowly - am pretty braindead in the morning so i go easy for the first mile

  21. #21
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    I'm a little late too, but I've just got two words: Foam Roller

    Last year I started getting lots of fatigue and soreness, so I started stretching but didn't really see much improvement. I saw some raves on here about rollers, so I picked one up, and now I'm basically addicted to it. It's really painful when you first start, but it's amazing after you get used to it. I usually spend a few minutes on it sometime during the evening, and generally don't bother stretching much anymore.

  22. #22
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    Light stretching in the morning before my (modest) commute on a good day. More if I have time, but with two kids, I am lucky to get here on time so I am often just running out the door. My legs in particular do feel better when I have stretched as far as overall performance is concerned. For longer rides, I always stretch before Ė a little before leaving, then again after 10-20 minutes when muscles are warm. Thatís how long it takes me to ride to the trailhead from my house. And I stretch every night as well as periodically through the day (I have a few stretches that I can do surreptitiously at my desk. I love to stretch, so I do it when I can. I donít think you can really go wrong with (proper) stretching. Studies have been done about performance and stretching and all of that, but I am not a competitive professional athlete. All I know is it makes my body feel better, more aligned, more responsive and happier.

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