First off, I’m training for a Uni Century at the end of next summer (Mid-September, the Door County Century) and I’m having a great time, already noticing vast improvements and I have a fun loop I like to do on a bike path in my area.
However, I'm having discomfort that I believe relates to lactic acid built up in my quads and calves. I stretch before and after any ride (regardless of how short) and I always go for a short walk after my rides, but it doesn't seem to go away.
I know the difference between the feel of microscopic tears in the muscle tissue resulting in soreness (The goal of exercise) and that of lactic acid build-up (Precisely what no athlete wants). I'm pretty sure it's lactic acid, just to clear up some of those questions.
I've seen tons of ride logs on the forums, many quite long, so I thought this would be the perfect place to ask. I have googled this too, but I think it would be better to hear these things from my fellow cyclists. Thanks :p
If I remember correctly, lactic acid is related to the absorbtion of water into your muscles, so staying hydrated is important. I think some vitamins/suplements help increase the absorption rate but I forget which ones.
The rest you just have to get your muscles used to it. Some of it is phys/chemical and some of it is you get used to the pain and it doesn’t bother you as much as before.
I hear mustard is good to take on rides. Here at the pub the old hag of a waitress lets me take the mustard packets left over from the sandwiches they serve. They are easy to carry on a ride. I drink plenty of water with them. Maybe that’s the real secret, mustard gets you to drink more water?
I think Tholub is on the ball here.
If there’s a problem with your legs that’s not an outright injury, you probably should be taking a rest. It is really easy to keep going when you are young and fit, or even old and fit. Don’t be afraid to take a few days off now and then, or at least go and do something different like tricks and stuff.
Especially if you have a distance goal you can use the old runner’s maxim of not increasing your hours by more than 10% a week, though I personally would make that a month. (I’m a wimp). Don’t get paranoid about having to ride every day or anything like that. In distance running the main concern is not to get injured, and most injuries are a consequence of a big increase of training hours or intensity (not shoe condition as the shoe salesmen would have it)
It’s the rest after the training when the muscles develop/adapt to their new environment.
So you do NEED TO REST!!
Try alternating pure distance workouts with speed, climbing, or interval workouts. It will be more interesting and will develop different aspects of your fitness.
And don’t be afraid to bring it down a notch if you’re finding yourself over-trained. Reducing distance and/or speed for a little while can give your body a chance to catch up with your training.
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I ride 5 of 7 days of the week. I take breaks every 2-3 rides - I don’t ride every day. I do know the pain of a torn, or extremely weak and subject to injury, muscle. It’s more just an achy feeling, not really limiting anything in my leg, but uncomfortable.
At low cadences, you are using fast twitch (type 2) muscle fibres which respire anaerobically and produce lactic acid. If you ride with high cadence then you are using slow twitch muscles (type 1) which respire aerobically (so you breathe harder) and produce much less lactic acid and also recover very quickly compared to fast twitch fibres- that is why you see all pro cyclists ‘spinning’ the cranks.
So if at the moment you are pedalling with a low cadence, then try to spin the pedals faster- it may/will feel like you are putting in more effort since you are breathing faster, but in reality you are making it a hell of a lot easier for yourself.
If you physically don’t have the power to spin faster, use longer cranks and then spin faster.
I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a good point(which types of muscles are being used).
Probably explains why I can ride my uni for an hour and a half… and die!! Or go for a nice long run for as many hours as I want… Couldn’t work out what was the problem.
But yes, I pedal slowly and don’t go very fast at all.
Not sure I want to go any faster though, I’m not very good on any non-smooth surface :o