Question about conditioning

Brief history: I took a unicycle off road for the first time back in August. I started simple, on some gravel double track. The hills spiked my heart rate and I ended up having to walk most of them. Six weeks later I got a bit brave and decided to do single track for the first time. That experience was an eye opener. That trip was so full of UPDs it was almost as if I didn’t know how to ride a uni and short distances would absolutely wind me.

Flash forward a few months and I can take on all those double track hills I used to walk, I’m handling roots far better, and I can go a lot further without getting winded… until a week ago.

I went on a typical single track trip a week ago and found that I was completely winded after just a half mile. A trip two days ago yielded similar results. About a half mile and I’m gassed. What’s strange is that I haven’t felt that out of shape since those initial off-road attempts. I would have thought that I would be better conditioned. I wasn’t wasting energy by overly waving my arms or anything and I hadn’t lapsed in my outings. I can’t some up with a reason why my heart rate is spiking so soon in my recent rides. Body using energy to stay warm in the colder weather perhaps? Just one of those things that comes and goes?

I guess I’ll have to pay attention and hit the trails a bit harder this week.

My 2cents

Your reasoning sounds good to me. Something you can consider as well is that your system could be fighting an infection. I’ve noticed that the better I get to know my body the easier it gets to read the signs. Every person has a unique system and you have to learn to read the signs as they are presented to you. For me dehydration is a major factor, but since you are entering the cold season I don’t think that would be a big issue.

Hope you sort it out, it’s not nice to under-perform. It always feels great to do a section that previously was nearly impossible. Best feeling of the week. :smiley:

I find diet has a big part to do with my level of endurance/performance. If I’ve been lounging around eating junk all day and go out for a ride, I’ll feel like crap. But if I have a good meal before I go out, I don’t feel tired at all.

Hadn’t thought of infection. While I haven’t come down with a cold the lymph nodes in my jaw have been a bit tender a few mornings. Maybe trying to fight something off.

No drastic changes in diet, so I guess I’ll chalk it up to some sort of cold/virus going around.

Breathing colder air brings my performance down.
And the first mile is often harder for me because I’m not warmed up, regardless of the temperature.

I think another thing I need to work on is my pacing. If I muni with other people I’ve noticed I don’t wear down quite as quick. Maybe part of the problem is I try to go too fast when I’m by myself.

Conditioning takes time and consistency, so ride more often and try to sustain your effort, maybe mix up your rides, but try to get on the uni two to three times every week.

Also consider that you have only been riding a uni for four months, so not only is you body still changing to accomodate the demands of uni, but your skill level is also changing which will both increase and decrease your riding capacity. Ex: your skills improve so you ride harder lines, even though it should be easier, you’ve increased the demands and so it seems like you’ve plateaued.

It takes more than a few months to develop uni legs, and muni legs take even longer! I ride a lot and I am in good muni shape, but I still get very tired and sometimes I ride like poopy. I rode for an hour or so last Friday, three hours Saturday, and three hours Monday. I am tired tonight, but at the same time I want to ride further/longer and I still feel like I rest too much.

Don’t lose sight of where you started, I think you’d find that you are in better shape than you think, all things considered.

There is nothing wrong with stopping to rest, I stop all the time, sometimes I get off, but usually I just lean against a tree and catch my breath. Muni is a very hard cardio work out, so don’t expect to ride like a biker.

Have you ridden with other muni riders? That might help you get a sense for your conditioning.

Have you seen his last post?

+1 on increased frequency. If you can’t get to the trails during the week, just ride around a lot (ex commute by uni). To build and keep strength you can ride standing for longer periods or better yet hill repeaters.

Even if you can ride the uni around town, you won’t work the same muscles so some time at the gym might be called for. I look for squat machines and exercises that work my glutes more, I also like pistol squats.

Single leg bridge

Pistol squat (I can only do it on flat ground, w/ support:o)

Thanks for the responses.

Yeah, I’ve tried to get out 3-4 times a week. Usually only one muni ride a week with the others being neighborhood rides (thanks to the reduced daylight). That’s one of the reasons I was a bit surprised the other day. I was feeling like I was making some progress and then BOOM what felt like a big setback.

I’ll just keep at it. And yeah, I’ve ridden with other people. Those rides are when I’ve made my most progress. I think the short days have hit all of us, so hopefully the group rides will pick back up once we’re back on daylight savings.

Invest in a heart-rate monitor. Then you’ll know if you’re overdoing it or if you just don’t have “it” that day. Figure out what heart rate (HR) you can maintain under normal circumstances - it may take several rides to learn this number - then when you’re out riding and you’re “out of it”, you can see if you’re topped out in HR. If you are, then there’s no point in pushing harder because you’ll just burn out more and ride worse, just back off and do what you can. If you’re not topped out on HR, then it’s either just one of those days or there are other factors - ate the wrong thing too soon before riding, too cold for your lungs, too hard of a start to the ride without enough warmup, etc.

After a while, you’ll begin to understand what the number on the HR monitor feels like then you won’t need the monitor to know where you’re at.

EDIT: Note that some people are leg-limted and some are heart/lung-limited. I’m almost completely limited by heart-lung (as a former childhood asthmatic) so understanding my HR/exertion levels has helped me a lot.