Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Friday, 21 September 2012

On Being Sensible...

On Monday, I had one of those days on the bike that I'd rather forget. 

It was always planned to be an 'easy' day, so I cruised into work for my commute. My legs lacked any snap and I felt a bit lethargic, but I hoped that the easy ride in might shake out the legs a little.  Usually, when this happens my ride home is much better.

The afternoon came, and finally it was time to bike home.  Well, things didn't improve - I felt really awkward and uncomfortable on the bike for the whole hour-long ride, and my legs just had nothing to really give.

I arrived home, and trudged up the stairs to see my wife & kids.  "That was a pretty crap ride..." I groaned to anyone who'd listen.  "You're not overdoing it are you?" replied my wife as she was prepping dinner.

Now, even though it was more of an absent-minded comment, my dear wife was 100% correct (as usual - ha!).    :)

I've mentioned before that in the previous two-weeks I had restarted doing two-to-three hard interval sessions each week.  They are great for crystallising some form in the legs, but they are also pretty draining as well.

This can be a real trap for lower-grade cyclists (who are only used to a moderate training load) and to cyclists who are hitting middle-age.  And I cover both of those categories!!  Jackpot!!

The tendency, especially for males, is to tell yourself to drink a big hot mug of cement and HTFU - in other words, suck it up and train through it.  But if you are in one (or both) of those categories above like I am, its probably the worst thing you can do.

Your body is actually sending you that message, and there's a reason for it.  You might have reached a limit and you need some more recovery, or maybe you have a low-grade virus that has taken the edge off your normal performance level.  It could be a few things really - but the important point is what you should do about it, and that's to take a brief break.

Rather than risk injury, worsening a mild illness, or going into more serious over-training symptoms - just have a few days off the bike.  It will only have a marginal effect (if any) on your form, and will in fact save you from having much longer off the bike if you make things worse (which will have a major effect on your form!).

So what did I do?

I took a couple of days off, leaving the bike in the garage on Tuesday and Wednesday, and catching the bus instead.

On Thursday, I jumped back on the bike for an easy commute into work - and my legs felt terrific.  I did my usual hard intervals on Thursday afternoon's homeward commute, and I felt strong and powerful.  I even set a couple of Strava PR's on two segments.

So all I'm saying here is that listening to your body is a very important part of developing long-term fitness and enjoying 'cycling longevity'.  Play the long game - a couple of days off to refresh the body when it tells you it needs it is good practice. Ignoring it, and developing long-term injuries or illness, is silly and counter-productive.


  1. Hey I follow a few cycling blogs and have been reading yours. You said you recently bought a heart rate monitor? This is a good way to 'track' your fatigue. If you take your HR every morning as you wake, you will start to see a pattern (slightly lower when you are fresh, higher when you are tired etc). This is a good way to ensure you don't overdo it. You will know if you are ready for a hard session or not. You can also see 'getting sick' coming through you morning HR a day or two before it strikes.

  2. *applause* for the anti-macho attitude Abby and *applause* to Arthur for the clever response :)