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I did 140km ride 4 days ago, and 200km ride yesterday. After that second ride I was really tired. I didn't have any muscle sores, I averaged 25km/h, I could safely do more. But the whole body was in pain from ~8h on the bike alone. I was also feeling very tired and had to go to sleep early, and after 10 hours of sleep, I woke up tired as hell and right now I still can feel it, my head aches, coffe doesn't help etc.

I want to be able to do 3 such rides with 1 day breaks between, but I won't be able to do so if my regeneration will be that slow, and I will be dying that long after training days.

Is it normal? Is this trainable?

  • It is trainable, but look also for proper recovery food after ride (and during) and stretching muscles afterwards, and to wear enough warm clothes, as defenses go down and cold can hit stronger. Also try a gentle spin as recovery (kinda like the hangover beer) – gaurwraith Apr 24 '16 at 16:49
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    That's an astonishingly good effort - you should be proud of it. If your planned efforts are with other people (ie a bunch ride) then it will be easier to do the distance/speeds.... riding in a group adds ~20% to your capabilities. – Criggie Apr 24 '16 at 21:57
  • Give yourself some slack. It takes weeks, if not months of training for the body to be up to nearly back-to-back century rides. (And it sounds like you have not studied how to help the body recover -- it takes more than coffee.) – Daniel R Hicks Apr 25 '16 at 2:15
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    Can you fill us in a bit more about your background as a rider and typical weekly riding hours? – Andy P Apr 25 '16 at 10:04
  • For 2 months I hit the gym 3x a week, 2-3x do aerobic exercises (rowing, cycling, etc), and keep a diet. I've ridden 1000km in total since then. In the previous year I've done 5000km, but was in worse shape. – khernik Apr 25 '16 at 11:03
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Yes, this is absolutely normal, and yes, its also trainable.

Basically, from the information you have given, you have just tried to do too much too soon. You did 5000km last year which averages around 100km/wk and you have now asked your body to do 340km in the space of 4 days which is a massive leap.

Since you are already able to complete a 200km ride, i'm sure you know a lot of the following already, but hopefully you find something useful.

From a training perspective, you need to build your volume and your endurance up slowly. Aim for consistency rather than going on massive rides then spending long periods recovering.

For your stated goal, I would be looking to incorporate back to back long rides into your training. Maybe start out with 80km on consecutive days and add ~10% per week. (Easy/rest week every 4th week). It'll take a few months, and it'll be hard, but once you can do around 140km on back to back days you will be ready. Try to combine this with shorter rides on 2 other days of the week.

During the training rides, pay close attention to your effort level and how you are feeling, try not to push too hard, except in the last week before rest week when you can afford to dig a little deeper. Consistently doing long rides at a hard intensity is likely to result in overtraining (more later). Make sure to fuel your ride correctly with 240-300kcal of carbohydrate per hour, and take on 500-750ml of fluid per hour.

When you get home from the ride, fuelling is also really important. The first thing to do is get a recovery drink in. 250-300kcal with a 3:1 carb/protein ratio. Your body is most receptive to the nutrients for the first 2 hours, but particularly so in the first 30 mins. After a shower, take another small carb/protein based meal (eggs on toast for example) and have a short nap if possible. This allows your body to focus on recovering, and allows your immune system to return to normal levels.

Over the course of your training, especially when challenging yourself to progress quickly, its important to pay careful attention to your body to watch for signs of overtraining. If you notice lethargy, unexplained muscle soreness, mood swings, general grumpyness and/or apathy(towards the bike and/or other things) lasting more than a couple of days you probably need to back off a little and allow the body to recover.

  • Research indicates a 3-4:1 ratio of carbs to protein post-workout, rather than 2:1 -> jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-17 – altomnr Apr 25 '16 at 14:12
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    Thanks for linking that. I knew that 3-4:1 was the correct ratio during exercise, but didn't know that this also applied during the post workout recovery period – Andy P Apr 25 '16 at 14:40
  • Upon a full reading, the paper says that further study is required to find the optimum balance. I also did a quick check round the major recovery drink brands. I have now updated original post to a 3:1 ratio – Andy P Apr 25 '16 at 14:55
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I am a long distance rider. You don't sound unfit. A few things to look at:

  1. Diet. Eating the correct food at the correct times greatly affects your performance and recovery. Your post-ride recovery drink/ meal is as important as the ride itself and should be taking within 30min of getting off the bike. Remember you're always eating for the next day.

  2. Sleep pattern. Consider whether you're getting enough sleep.

  3. Heart Rate zones. Are you pushing too hard too long? Doing a 200km ride at 80% of max compared to doing it at 65% will also have a huge impact.

  4. Health. Are you getting or sick? Maybe you're showing early signs of a cold or flu.

Otherwise get off the bike for a few days. It may also be psychological. Then start again with a lower HR, focus on nutrition and remember to have fun!

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One of the best solutions for post-ride aches is prevention.

Tiredness is very often a sign of dehydration.

While you are riding you should be drinking enough that you have to pee every couple hours. It doesn't have to be sports drink, but it does have to have water in it.

If the weather is warm enough that you perspire just by being outside, then you will need to go through a couple bottles every hour; otherwise one bottle per hour will be enough.

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    Actually, if you are going through a couple of bottles an hour, it cannot be just water - sweating out the electrolytes and not replacing them will put you in a bad state. But insufficient hydration or electrolyte balance is much more likely to affect the situation during or immediately after the ride than the following day. The asker's situation sound a lot more like just asking for a lot from a body not yet used to it, something likely to be followed by a day of feeling absolutely dead. But pretty soon when such a distance isn't unusual the recovery from repeating it will be mild. – Chris Stratton May 11 at 5:26
  • Tiredness is also a sign of having cycled 200km! Your advice is good but I doubt anyone could cycle the sort of distances the asker is talking about, without staying reasonably hydrated. – David Richerby May 11 at 8:56

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