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lost my climbing legs!(15 posts)

lost my climbing legs!tarwheel
Oct 10, 2002 5:36 AM
Help me find them. I've been riding about the same mileage (600/month) for the past two years. Over the summer, my hill-climbing really improved, even though I gained weight. In the past few weeks, however, my legs have been absolutely dead on the hills. I'm finishing climbs dead last in the pack, whereas I normally finish in the middle and on a good day can barely hang with the better climbers in my group.

I might be tempted to say it's from overtraining, but I don't think so. In July, I was climbing better than ever -- and that was after riding 950 miles in June. My climbing continued to be good until mid-September. In early Sept, I had a high-mileage week (230 miles) and felt great. I had been training for a century over a very hilly route in the mountains, but had to cancel when I hurt my knee playing tennis. I backed off my mileage a little at that point and concentrated on recovery rides and spinning. I also tried some cross-training on a rowing machine, which was a mistake because it really seemed to toast my quads. Since then, I have really struggled on the hills, going on 3-4 weeks now. Any advice?
Maybe some EPO might help. (nm)onespeed
Oct 10, 2002 5:49 AM
or a Derosa Merak, right? (nm)tarwheel
Oct 10, 2002 6:20 AM
re: lost my climbing legs!DINOSAUR
Oct 10, 2002 5:59 AM
It could be overtraining. I ride about the same miles per week as you do. I've dropped weight and it really helped my climbing. I was putting in some big mile weeks and at the same time doing some much needed work around my property and started to come down with a cold. I tried to ride through it and came down with a humdinger of a flu and have not ridden for 5 days. I was planning on taking a week off when I hit 5K for the year, but I think my rest came a couple of hundred miles earlier. I'm starting to think of stopping to keep track of miles after I hit my target distance for the year and just go out and have fun. I've also found that when ever I improve I go through a period of near collapse, it's just my bodies way of getting stronger. Don't know if this helps but I guess we all face this...another thing also is your diet, are you getting enough carbs?
re: lost my climbing legs!tarwheel
Oct 10, 2002 6:19 AM
I don't think it's from a lack of carbs. I probably eat too many of them, rather than not enough. My hunch is that it's one of two things: overtraining (the cumulative effect of riding many miles this year), or not training hard enough (needing to do some intervals or dedicated hill-climbing rides). Since these are contradictory, I'm not sure course to follow.
re: lost my climbing legs!McAndrus
Oct 10, 2002 6:30 AM
Are you somehow de-emphasizing the climbing skills and telling your legs that climbing isn't important anymore? I can't tell from your write-up exactly.

My climbing was very good in the spring and early summer but has suffered as I've done more criterium riding. I've told my legs that going fast in rectangles is more important than climbing. And they remind me of this everytime I go up a hill now.

If I were trying to get my form back (which I'm not - yet) I'd probably back off even more on the climbs - take them very easy - for a week or two - and then gradually ramp up my efforts.
re: lost my climbing legs!Jon Billheimer
Oct 10, 2002 6:57 AM
Be conservative. Go on the overtraining assumption. Take several days off completely. Then ride a week to ten days easily with maybe one or two short hard efforts at midweek, and see what happens.

I had to lay off the bike for a week recently due to a virus. Then did one week at reduced mileage with only one short, hard interval session. The following week I was flying.

Fatigue can become cumulative and one doesn't even realize it until after a short break.
Agree with BillheimerDream plus
Oct 11, 2002 4:26 AM
No better time than now to take a nice break. If I were a Tarheel, I'd go for some nice NC mountain hikes. This summer I found I couldn't even FACE climbs. Climbs I could do the year before were out of the question. I badly needed to take a week of and probably should have taken more. It worked wonders for my head and body. I came back with a good Bridge to Bridge ( for me ) even though I had stopped training. I'm 48 also and still trying to find the right balance in my training. From now on I'm gonna schedule in more rest and try to be disciplined about taking it.
another possibilitytarwheel
Oct 10, 2002 7:02 AM
I ride with a group of guys and gals who are mostly younger than me. I ride more miles than any of them, but they are all in great shape and many of them run, swim or do other sports on days they are not riding. As the summer has progressed, they have all gotten in better shape and the speeds of our rides have increased. The average speed of our Wednesday night ride has increased from about 17.5 mph in the spring to 20 mph in the past month. Perhaps I am just reaching my limits. My climbing doesn't bother me when I'm riding solo or at a slower pace, but trying to keep up with a pack of faster riders on a long climb just does me in. I have no trouble keeping up with the group on the flats and rolling terrain, it's the long climbs that do me in. BTW, I am 48 and most of the group I ride with are in their 30s or early 40s, although at least one of the better climbers is older than me (56). I also weigh about 10-15 pounds more than ideal, but that didn't seem to hold me back in July.
another possibilityChunky
Oct 10, 2002 7:44 AM
Ahh, you didn't mention the intensity of riding in the first post. I bet you "overreached" a little bit. Try a week or 2 of light riding or off bike.

"When in doubt, take a break" is my new motto after a unpleasant experience of severe overtraining.
Toasted quads? Couple days of rest then easy spin (nm)hrv
Oct 10, 2002 7:02 AM
re: lost my climbing legs!Rode Warrior
Oct 10, 2002 7:09 AM
It could be the rowing. You mentioned that it really toasted your quads. In my experience, as limited as it is, after really working my quads, it takes a week or two of really low effort to get back in form. In my opinion, you should take it easy, concentrate on the mechanics of your form, and do lower effort rides. You should find your strength returning quickly. I don't think that taking 3-4 weeks off is long enough to get that much weaker.

Hope that helps,
Steve (I'm not a doctor, and don't play one on TV)
crosstraining and heartratemadwiscbiker
Oct 10, 2002 7:33 AM
for me, when the legs start feeling dead in the morning, i hit the pool hard for a bit. it does not seem to matter how hard i swim, when i get back on the bike i am ready to go with eager legs.
another way i check for overtraining is with morning resting heart rate. every morning before pulling myself out of bed i check my resting heart rate and log it into my riding journal for that day. it takes a few weeks to get a good idea of your normal resting, especially if you have a virus or are currently overtraining a bit. if my resting is a good 10 over normal then i know it is time for a easy day soon, either on the bike or its time for the pool, whatever works for you. of course this may not help your problem now, but in the long term i find it is a great indicator of what sort of state my body is in.
re: lost my climbing legs!funknuggets
Oct 10, 2002 7:51 AM
First, make sure your brake pad is not rubbing your rim... haha, just kidding. Can I also ask a few other questions? One in particular that I would like to know is whether you can isolate the "dead legs" to any particular segment of your pedal stroke. That might enable you to pinpoint what you may or may not be doing off the bike that is hindering you. For example, as a result of a rather long discussion the other day on this board regarding lifting, there was a mention of utilizing plyometric principles. So, I wanted to try a few of the motions out. One of which was a "squat jump" where you would put weight on and then squat from a standing position and then explode upwards and jump as high as possible. I did 3 sets of 10-16 reps just to give it a whirl. Yesterday I rode and felt a similar "deadness" in my upper quads and seemed so not be able to carry as high a spinning cadence as I normally can. So, I may side with the previous poster that it may be the rowing or something, but a few rest days to charge up your batteries can never hurt. A wise old man once said: "Train hard, but rest harder." (Just kidding PODIUMBOUND)...

Weekly massage & rest.cyclequip
Oct 11, 2002 4:03 AM