Fitness (or lack of it) question

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  • Fitness (or lack of it) question
  • ChrisS
    Member

    I commute by bike 5 days a week, it’s not that far really, about 7 miles each way, downhill on the way in, uphill on the way back. I’ve been doing this for years now and I really thought I’d be getting used to the effort and fitter as a result. Instead I just seem to be getting slower and more knackered. It’s reached the point now where even if I do get time to go out on the mtb at the weekend, I can barely raise the energy for more than an hour or so plodding around the woods.

    Admittedly works hectic, young son is tiring and I only get about 6.5-7hrs sleep a night but still, it’s all getting rather depressing.

    So what am I missing? Do I need more sleep? Less cycling? better quality cycling? more recovery time? any suggestions gratefully appreciated….

    MrSalmon
    Member

    Sounds like you just need a bit more recovery and less miles. A change from the routine can help too, if you’re always riding the same routes.

    MrSmith
    Member

    better quality cycling.
    7 miles is junk miles if you could add the weekly miles up and do them in bigger blocks say a 21 and a 14 you would get fitter. even if you go balls out for 7 it’s a 25min session so only just warmed up.

    if work/life allows it have a longer ride followed by a day off the bike midweek and another rest day before your longer weekend ride.

    thepodge
    Member

    i agree with needing recovery time, change to mon / wed / fri and you should notice a difference

    ChrisS
    Member

    Hmmmm, interesting. I can see what your saying. Trouble is commuting by another means to get a rest day is tricky, public transport is rubbish, parking at work is oversubscribed and the wife usually needs the van to walk the dogs and the car to go to work. Likewise longer rides sound good but I can’t see myself getting up early enough to take a longer route in, besides I need to help get my son to school, and at the end of the day I’m knackered and I just want to get home to see my son before he goes to bed, get some tea and collapse in a heap…..

    ChrisS
    Member

    Is 2×7 miles 5 days a week really that much? I’m kinda surprised it warrants recovery time. Whenever someone posts a commuting thread on here there always seem to be plenty of people commuting far further.

    MrSalmon
    Member

    Is 2×7 miles 5 days a week really that much? I’m kinda surprised it warrants recovery time. Whenever someone posts a commuting thread on here there always seem to be plenty of people commuting far further.

    It’s not in the great scheme of things, but still, if you’re constantly fatigued then you’ll find it hard to improve.

    surely ‘recovery time’ from normal life is called ‘death’ ? If you do this ride all the time you should expect to get used to it and scarcely notice the effort. If you’re finding otherwise perhaps you’re anaemic or something ?

    You may need recovery time from some heroic activity but otherwise it’s hogwash!

    I don’t think this is about the cycling. Go see your doctor for some basic tests. If nothing else it will put your mind at ease.

    Premier Icon Taz
    Subscriber

    I was doing a ~6 mile commute each day of the week and it got to the point that I was hating it. Barely long enough to warm up and it never seemed to get any easier. I had a 1 (then 2) young girls to contend with and it does takes it’s toll

    I stopped and forced myself to drive for a few weeks. Soon I found I was craving the cycle time.

    The other thing I did was change my attitude towards the cycle. Rather than being just a commute I considered it ‘me’ time. I sometimes pootled along mulling the world’s problems over in my head. Other times I blasted it as hard as I could. Other days I did ‘intervals’ between certain sections. Not sure my fitness improved at all but I certianly enjoyed the cycle a lot more

    The point is I tried to mix it up to relieve the boredom that was making the commute a chore. I doubt a 7 mile commute is physically wearing you out after all these years. Mentally it probably is though

    If you are really low on energy you may need to visit the GP. My mate was anaemic. Iron tablets transformed him!

    Good luck

    “You don’t get fit from training. You get fit by recovering from training”

    I have had this problem with my commuting over the years. I have found that trying to vary the pace of the ride on different days works for me. For example, if I have been riding at the weekend, then a very gentle ride on Monday / Tuesday gives me time to recover. I can then have a high intensity ride on Wednesday / Thursday. Friday can be another recovery paced ride leaving me fresh for a ride at the weekend.

    The hardest part can be letting yourself get passed by people you know you are fitter than on the days when you are taking it easy 😳

    thomthumb
    Member

    I do a similar length commute and find that doing it 5 days a week leaves my legs stiff. I’ve now taken to driving on a wedsnesday. It’s about routine, if you can’t have the car one day a week then get the missus to give you a lift.

    As for the boredom i find occasionally taking another bike can help. Usually use my commuter but every so often take a mountainbike; seems to bring a whole new element in. and makes you appreciate the slicks when you take them the next time.

    ChrisS
    Member

    Thanks guys, lots of food for thought. Obviously the answer is a shiny new lightweight road bike – for the variety of course!!!!

    I have to drive in on Friday for a change so it will be interesting to see whether it makes any difference at the weekend. Although I suspect by the time I’ve done a couple of long dog walks each morning on Sat and Sun I’ll still be knackered.

    I still don’t really understand why I’m not just getting fitter and acclimatising to the effort though. Unless I’m ill I suppose, not convinced the doc is going to take it seriously if I turn up saying I cycle, dog walk, have a demanding job, a young son and don’t get enough sleep – so why am I tired? 🙄

    Your body will adjust to cope with the training load you put on it. So, if most of your riding is based around 7 mile commutes it will adjust to cope with this.

    If you want to get fitter and find your commute easier, then you will need to put a bigger training load on it.

    Also, if you are anything like me then you will always give yourself a training load that is the maximum you can endure i.e. even when you are fitter, going out riding is still hard – its just that you are going faster.

    It is only when you back off the effort and soft pedal / glass crank it that you will find that the ride has become ‘easier’.

    mikey74
    Member

    Are you using anything to measure performance? Timing, heart rate, cadence etc. Measuring your heart rate will tell you how hard you are working and you can compare it over a period of time time see if it, relative to your speed or cadence, is improving.

    MrNutt
    Member

    try have that SIS Noche stuff, I found that I’d sleep really well and feel completely rested, that will probably make a difference, also you might be better off riding one day then walking/jogging the next?

    daveh
    Member

    the wife usually needs the van to walk the dogs and the car to go to work

    So she gets 2 vehicles and you get 0?

    ChrisS
    Member

    @daveh – yeah I know. I hate driving to work though so I don’t really mind, I just find it soul destroying sitting in rush hour traffic, much rather be on my bike.

    @mikey74 – I did play around with a HRM a bit a few years ago, found it a faff to use though and variations in traffic, road conditions and weather made it quite hard to interpret the results.

    I’ll take a look at that SIS Nocte stuff, can’t do any harm to try it out I guess.

    So what I need to do is train harder/better and get fitter so I have some energy at the weekends, then it will take less effort during the week to commute at the same speed and I’ll be less tired?

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    ChrisS – much of what you describe sounds like you’re generally knackered, rather than not benefitting from the riding to and from work.

    Try cutting the number of days you ride (public transport + book + ipod = another form of “me” time), but then extending your commute in on the days you do ride. Same 7 miles home will mean you don’t miss out on family time.

    Naturally, getting up earlier does mean you need to go to bed a little earlier, but you and Mrs Chris could always find something else to do with that time….

    cynic-al
    Member

    Sounds like you are doing too much – whether that’s cycling, childcare, work, all 3.

    If you can eat/rest better, drink less etc you may have more energy at weekends?

    mikey74
    Member

    Drink more water: Dehydration can also cause you to feel lethargic.

    ChrisS
    Member

    Thanks for all of the suggestions, I’m going to try to get a bit more rest and try to push myself a bit more when I’m commuting, hopefully that should produce a noticeable improvement in my fitness.

    Ta.

    aP
    Member

    Are you people really suggesting that cycling for about 30 minutes twice a day requires recovery?
    I’d think that the OP is probably just affected by the cumulative stress of work and homelife.

    rs
    Member

    Chris, I have a very similar commute although not quite the same hectic life. My 9.5k ride to work takes 20 mins and ride home typically just under 50 mins, all downhill there, all uphill coming home. It never gets easy and it never will, uphills just aren’t that easy, there was a quote somewhere by lance armstrong that basically said anyone that says they flew uphill is talking bollocks.

    I’m a bit of a fair weather commuter and cycled for the first time this year a few weeks back, took me an hour to get home, so i obviously lost some fitness by not cycling the last few months. I think your body can only adapt to a certain point, you won’t keep getting better and better and you’ll reach a plateau.

    My fastest time home was 44 minutes one day when i was really pissed off, I guess sometimes you just need the motivation to bus your ass. Still annoyed by a friend however that would regularly do it sub 40.

    coffeeking
    Member

    I can only back up what people have said about plateauing, every so often you need to mash it up a little. But I would honestly go visit the doc for a checkup, it cant hurt, and that’s what they’re paid for.

    that basically said anyone that says they flew uphill is talking bollocks.

    I once had this experience. There was a massive tail wind :o) I felt like superman!

    keavo
    Member

    you have a hectic lifestyle, and may be expecting too much in terms of getting fitter. if i was in your position i’d stop riding every day and aim to enjoy your riding rather than use it to get fit (you must have some level of fitness now anyway).

    uplink
    Member

    A couple of years ago I was similarly constantly knackered
    In the end I went to see my GP who did some tests etc. – turned out that my thyroid gland had pretty much packed up producing thyroxine – apparently it controls your metabolism
    A few months of taking thyroxine pills & getting the level right & I was back to feeling a lot better.
    The doc said that if it wasn’t for all the exercise I did, I would have noticed much sooner as my weight would have rocketed

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Similar lifesyle to you here – commute to work by bike 3-4 days a week (out the office the other days) 17 miles a day, 2 young kids, early starts, disturbed nights. Lucky if I get 7 hours a night, last night was typical – watched 10 o’clock news, fell asleep, babyswadey woke me up at 1.30, back to bed at 2.30, alarm goes off at 6am.

    I’d agree with all the advice – it’s the lifestyle you need to recover fom as much as the commute, so ignore those doubters.

    Get yourself checked by the doc to be sure, get yourself to bed earlier and get more sleep, watch your diet and hydration. If at all possible, try and get one day a week without riding to work. I do get time to get a weekend ride in – even if just an hour, and that one ride longer steady ride seems to give me enough of a jolt, the physical change – speed, distance or just scenery.

    kevonakona
    Member

    Ap i think the suggestion generally is the OP is fit for the commute but because that is repeated not fit for the cycle that pushes beyond that. And yes if the distance is repeated and is the exercise (busy life precludes most other riding i think) then recovery will be needed if only to let the legs rest.

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