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Commuting vs Training vs Staleness

RutlandGavRutlandGav Posts: 144
edited August 2015 in Commuting general
Hi all,

Since February I've been clocking up about 90 miles a week commuting to work on my rigid mtb. It's a longish route yes, but the roads are quiet and quite scenic.

I've started to add some longer rides on my days off, my I'm now at a point where i can go for over six hours before even a hint of muscle soreness kicks in, and I seem to have gotten better at burning fat as fuel , i can stave off the bonk consuming only a quarter of what i'm burning in the form of sports drinks, even though i've not eaten yet that day.

However, I find my commute rides really suffer for at least a week afterward. I just don't feel into it at all, every turn of the pedal feels like a chore, heart rate barely goes above 110 no matter how hard i try push.

Even when i've overcome the muscle fatigue and even if i try eating a few high carb meals , it doesn't seem to help. Since my HR is so low, I doubt these rides are achieving much, besides putting me off cycling. Well, that and a bit of weight loss.

So, it's a case of either cut the commutes after a long 'un, or cut the long rides and stick to commuting.

The thing is, if i only commute, i'm missing out on the most fun part of cycling. OTOH, commuting is guaranteed mileage, I'm very leery of skipping the commute for a promise to do another ride on my next day off, which may not actually happen.

Is it just a case of "patience, Padawan" as it was with the chronic bonking that plagued my earlier efforts?

I'm also wondering if the fact that the commute is inevitably going to be a well-worn route amplifies feelings of staleness. I did try taking a detour on my way home having done a long ride 5 days previous, but still didn't enjoy it much. Then again, i'm at the stage where there are no unexplored routes home left, merely ones that only get used on a fortnightly basis.

Perhaps I'd cope better with "stale" feelings when heading out into undiscovered country. I work 4 on-4 off 12 hour shifts, maybe try to rejig the training schedule to do the long ride on my first day off, i'll be a bit tired from the commute but i should deal with it easier because of all the entertaining scenery, plus i get maximum recovery time before it all starts again?

Posts

  • I am no expert on this, not even a little bit, but my guess is that you're not actually eating enough. I do similar miles commute in a week and run or circuit most days; and I eat loads, even on the off days. I could be a little slimmer maybe but I'm really not bothered now (lost 3 stone over the last year). I enjoy the exercising and the eating!

    All IME / IMO of course. A grown up may well be along to refute this at some point soon.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    I'm commuting about 134 miles a week plus doing other ride, it's easy to get lazy on your commute, you need to think of things to make it more interestin.

    Do things such as aiming to set a PR on a particular strava segment, chasing down another cyclist (helps when they are young, female and pretty for me!) and so on, imagine you're a solo breakaway on the tour and work is the finish and your adoring fans but the peleton is chasing hard - whatever works for you!
  • imatfaalimatfaal Posts: 2,716
    agree with bits of both above posts.

    Out of curiosity why are you pushing yourself so hard on the weekend ride? If you eat less than you burn you will lose weight even if during the exercise period you do keep yourself comfortable. Or is this some fiendish trick to avoid the bonk? And if it is - can you be sure it is working as it should if it screws you up for the next few days cycling.

    I do 200-300 km a week commute - mornings I am still fasting cos I cannot be bothered with brekkie and prefer just to get on my bike, evenings I have a banana before I set off. I do drink a litre of water each way though. Most weekends I do either a 100k or a 100miler - and keep topped up with dates, bananas, and skittles for when I start to flag. Huge amounts of fluid with SiS tabs in. But the amount you eat on a 100k ride to stay comfortable is a small fraction of the energy used - and similarly porridge or muesli before you set off is not going to ruin your fat burn.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    The key is pacing and not just riding as hard as you can all of the time.

    I'm doing about 180 miles a week commuting and it's all about knowing when to ride 'recovery pace' and when to go flat out. If you ride the same all of the time you'l plateau.
  • imatfaalimatfaal Posts: 2,716
    The key is pacing and not just riding as hard as you can all of the time.

    I'm doing about 180 miles a week commuting and it's all about knowing when to ride 'recovery pace' and when to go flat out. If you ride the same all of the time you'l plateau.

    This morning was recovery pace but maximum effort with that horrible headwind - and I say that in the knowledge that most of the posters here were hitting PBs with that lovely tailwind
  • RutlandGavRutlandGav Posts: 144
    re: food

    The middle age spread hit me hard and i'm working it off. Lost over 10kg since i started in Feb, but i'd gotten lazy over the past month's 'staleness' and have stagnated.

    I work 12 hour shifts 4 days on 4 days off so it's a 5am departure , shower at work, return home 8.45pm , quick bite to eat then straight to bed. I don't really feel like eating before 5am and I was advised to do "bonk rides" anyway on this board to improve my stamina, it took about four months but it has started to have an effect i think.

    I'm rather familiar with what happens when i run out of glycogen - symptoms of low blood sugar begin to appear then become like a bad acid trip in the space of about 5 minutes , also when my glycogen is depleted by ride my blood sugar can get low between mealtimes. Beyond "critically low" however, i'm not sure how glycogen levels affect how i feel during the ride. Up to the point where the symptoms of low glucose first appeared, i'm usually feeling on top of the world. I've also done rides not adequately refuelled, and gone into bonk prematurely - but up to that point felt really strong.

    It seems the whole good session/bad session thing is just a die roll. You can load the odds in your favour with certain factors, but there are no guaranteed wins.

    Anyway, this week I seem to have rediscovered my mojo. Last week, I only cycled 2 days and drove the other 2. Didn't feel enthusiastic, couldn't get my HR up, even when walking to the canteen and back i walked slowly and muscles i used for walking felt sore.

    This week I rode all 4 days, for only the second time since i started commuting. Last time i tried it in June, it was a big struggle, i was just hanging on for the last couple days and my work performance suffered. This week i pretty much enjoyed every ride, got into a "race" with another rider a couple times, average hr over 125 for each journey, peaks at 150. On the last day at work, they told me to go help out in the warehouse, s o spent 10 hours walking , climbing ladders, crouching down, lifting boxes etc and i took the scenic route on the way home. Still felt fine after.

    Only thing I can think of that's different, days been getting shorter so the journeys coincided with dawn and dusk, plus the weather's been glorious. Made it a lot more interesting than riding along with flat lighting. Or maybe i was fighting off a low level infection?

    Spent most of yesterday sleeping, but i've got a 3 hour jaunt planned for later.
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,529
    Just two points.

    Are you getting enough rest days? I assume your first day off is generally taken up with catching up on your sleep, but do you get a rest day between your big rides and your commute? That's the time when your body makes the big recovery - rebuilding muscle that is used up on the big efforts.

    Secondly, if you have the space and the money, I think you owe yourself a nice weekend bike. A rigid mtb is fine for the commute, and I commuted by hybrid for ten years on and off and used it for long rides at weekends. Last year I bought a drop bar cross bike (Genesis CdF) after getting a place on the Ride London, and I really love it. It took a few months to get used to (but I also had health issues that stopped me riding for a while) - but it is my main ride now, and the hybrid is used when I need to lock my bike up at the train station for the day. A decent road bike for your big rides will make them a lot more enjoyable.
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    I am not as fit as the OP and do not do the same mileage but I know the plateau, the staleness and those rides when you just know it is not your day. I think the staleness and the plateau are linked in that repeating the same things does get to you and without something being shaken up your body probably gets used to what you do. I don't know enough to change that as I haven't managed it for myself. I suppose intervals might help but someone here will have a better idea on combating staleness/plateau.

    As far as those bad rides where it feels like riding through treacle I can only suggest you go slow, slower than you want to. I do a 26-30 minute commute (average speed can be 13-16mph), but occasionally I am just unable to go faster and it feels like I can't get my heart rate to go up (guessing as I don't really commute with a HRM), Those days I just grind out a very slow pace and if it takes 40-45 minutes I live with that. Get over that day slowly and then the next day is a new one and usually I am back on form. I think with me it is recovery related, might be with you. BTW in my case I do not commute every day of the week, but use the car. Sometimes I do a full 5 day commute by bike and on those days the treacle day happens and always wednesday or thursday. Whenever it happens I usually do a few PRs on Strava the next day. If that sounds at all like you then perhaps try a go slow day when it hits you.
  • RutlandGavRutlandGav Posts: 144
    I am not as fit as the OP and do not do the same mileage but I know the plateau, the staleness and those rides when you just know it is not your day. I think the staleness and the plateau are linked in that repeating the same things does get to you and without something being shaken up your body probably gets used to what you do. I don't know enough to change that as I haven't managed it for myself. I suppose intervals might help but someone here will have a better idea on combating staleness/plateau.

    As far as those bad rides where it feels like riding through treacle I can only suggest you go slow, slower than you want to. I do a 26-30 minute commute (average speed can be 13-16mph), but occasionally I am just unable to go faster and it feels like I can't get my heart rate to go up (guessing as I don't really commute with a HRM), Those days I just grind out a very slow pace and if it takes 40-45 minutes I live with that. Get over that day slowly and then the next day is a new one and usually I am back on form. I think with me it is recovery related, might be with you. BTW in my case I do not commute every day of the week, but use the car. Sometimes I do a full 5 day commute by bike and on those days the treacle day happens and always wednesday or thursday. Whenever it happens I usually do a few PRs on Strava the next day. If that sounds at all like you then perhaps try a go slow day when it hits you.

    How long you been commuting for? It's six months for me, and I'm starting to see gains in my stamina, if not speed. Three weeks in a row now, i've rode in all four days, and felt fine. On the middle two days of last shift, I was working in the warehouse, and felt tired pedalling home Day 3. Day 4 I was flying a desk again, and even though the weather was awful, attacked the ride home pretty well. I'm attributing that to the "Friday factor".

    My cruise speeds don't seem do have gained any however - I suppose that's because i don't do any intervals or speed work. When I started, if I was having a good day I'd do the journey in 1 hour 10 minutes and I still haven't beaten that time. But I used to have bad days too where it took 1 hour 30+, these days a bad day is at most 10 minutes off the pace. Also, when i started I couldn't complete the journey without stopping to guzzle a sugary drink halfway or i'd bonk. Now i think of 16 miles as a short distance and do that on internal fuel.

    The fact that i can ride all 4 days , vs 2 when i started, and do these long 7/8 hour jaunts occasionally, are all signs of progress.
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