I was in to cycling quite a lot in high school, but was unable to and/or really lazy in college.

I've been getting back into cycling lately, doing a 65 miler two weekends ago, a 25 last weekend, and a 45 yesterday, in addition to biking to work (about 3.5 miles up a large hill in the morning, the same distance almost without pedaling on the way back) 6/10 days of those weeks.

Woke up this morning and I'm really really sore everywhere. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need to just "cool it" for a couple of days?

  • 1
    A little soreness means you're doing it right. But yeah, you need to take a couple days off. Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 16:22
  • It sounds like the kind of soreness you get after the first time listing weighs at the gym. If it's that, you should wait until it goes away (2-3 days) then train again and it will come back but considerably less severe, and by the third time you should not be getting sore anymore. Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 17:56
  • @Andreas: That's what I thought. Yet it has come back. :) Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 21:49
  • @Billy: Without knowing the intensity of the workouts, its impossible to tell. If you have been "going hard", your earlier limit may have been aerobic capacity. It is possible that it improved faster than you muscles - so now your you legs are your upper limit - give them a break, but still do very low intensity exercise for a few days.
    – mattnz
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 22:52
  • 2
    @Unsliced: Okie dokie :) I will meditate on Rule #5. Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


First off, if the soreness is such that you feel painful stabs when you move/stretch the muscles you definitely should rest for awhile (at least several days, maybe up to 6 weeks), and perhaps should see a doc. This can be a sign of tendinitis, muscle pulls, or a muscle disorder, and continuing to exercise in such conditions can lead to permanent damage.

General soreness/stiffness, on the other hand, is believed to be caused by microscopic muscle injuries that, as they heal, tend to strengthen the muscles. For such discomfort you need to take is easy for a day or two, until the soreness/stiffness abates. However, moderate exercise (well below your max effort) to keep yourself limber is often advised.

  • Hmm... I don't think I'd describe this as "painful stabs." But didn't think I'd keep getting "sore spells" like this after being back in the saddle for a couple of months. +1 Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 22:33
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    +1: I tell people "You don't get fit from the exercise, you get fit from the recovery". Correct recovery is far more important....
    – mattnz
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 22:47
  • @BillyONeal - There is a metabolic disorder known as myodenylate deaminase deficiency that affects a few percent of the population. This produces muscle aches that won't go away, particularly in the shoulders, after sustained vigorous exercise. The "cure" is a "supplement" known as D-ribose, taken in amounts of 2-5 grams 2-4 times a day. Fairly cheap and safe. Also, if you are having muscle pains, don't let a doctor talk you into taking statins. Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 23:33
  • @Daniel: Looking at symptoms for that I don't match. Good to know that its there though. I think I just over did it -- Strava at least is calling the first big ride "Extreme" and the last "Tough". (To my understanding those are based on heart rate) Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 0:45
  • Also note that it's at least theoretically possible to experience "compartment syndrome", a medical emergency where the leg muscles swell so much that circulation is cut off. Mostly this occurs due to trauma or infection, but it can occur with very intense exercise. Quite unlikely when cycling, unless you overexercise to the point of extreme foolishness, but worth being aware of. Suffice it to say that if you get any sort of serious leg pain you should seek medical attention. Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 19:48

Time off the bike is only as important as how you take care of your body off the bike as well.

-Eat healthy food (see 'The Feed Zone' by Thomas Liju and Allen Lim, and remember that athletes aren't special, and you need to eat
regular healthy food, but just more of it with increase in volume in training),
-Avoid standing on your feet for long times if you can; if you get the opportunity, elevate your legs. -Stay hydrated--mind you that hydration is not just chugging a gallon of water a day: pay
attention to electrolyte levels, and the color of your urine is only ONE indicator and not definitive,
-Do what you can to elevate your HR for 30 min. each day as well--for me, walking to work briskly accomplishes that. That's just something that personally helps for me

Above all, do what you can to prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in the future by easing your way into volume and intensity if your body reacts to it poorly, and eat right all the while.

When you get back on the bike, do the following in addition to the above:

-Getting a recovery snack within 30 min. after riding that's primarily carbs, and a decent amount of protein (endurox claims the magical formula is 4:1 carbs:protein, but anything roughly close will do)
-Eat 'complete' proteins. I can't tell you everything that's a complete protein (has the correct combination of ALL amino acids your body needs to build muscle), so just google for some suggests: I usually go with red beans and rice, or eggs. The latter is supposedly good at preventing DOMS.

I'm also assuming that whether through a professional fitting or not, you fit on your bike: regional pain is a sign that your bike is not fit for you/. Acute pain should send you to get a fit right away. Generalized pain (my legs/exhaustion/etc) is to be expected. Something about 'pain and gain' or something something...

  • :sigh: I wish it was regional. Seems to be mostly in my shoulders but really is pretty much everywhere. Just been a couch potato for too long. Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 22:32
  • This is all good advice, but it doesn't actually answer the question of whether or not the OP is doing something wrong and/or needs some time off the bike.
    – jimchristie
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 0:08
  • Agreed, but it's still relevant to the question. As I stated in my response the 'how' is important. Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 15:19

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