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Training with sore legs - what should I have done?(6 posts)

Training with sore legs - what should I have done?downunderracer
Mar 6, 2002 4:20 PM
I went for a training ride yesterday after having done a hard run a couple of days previously and some interval training the day before. As soon as I got on the bike I felt a fair bit of pain in the legs, mostly in the quads. I continued on my ride anyway and decided to take it fairly easy. Problem is that there are quite a few hills in my area so it's hard to do an easy ride. Today I still have some soreness. My question is, on reliasing that my legs were sore, should I have:

a. Continued as I did but take it REALLY easy (ie. tried to avoid the hills)
b. Gone home and rested
c. Something else?

To anyone who advocates recovery rides, what is their purpose? Some people in this forum seem to suggest that your training isn't hard, it isn't doing you much good. I used to subscribe to that theory, but now I'm not sure.

DUR
Truth: Hard rest is just as important as hard training.nigel
Mar 6, 2002 9:03 PM
DUR,

For muscles to grow in strength and size, they must first (ideal but not absolutely necessary) be stretched moderately. Next, they must be forced to work hard. For scar tissue to properly form (the bulk of a big muscle is simply scar tissue that's been layered up over time and effort) and for muscles to heal and be READY for the next session of hard work, they MUST (that's M-U-S-T) recover properly.

After a hard training ride (intervals, sprints, or long distance at a moderate pace), try a) soaking in a warm/hot tub with mineral salts--check your local drug store; then b) giving them light, quick massage--always stroking the muscle TOWARDS THE HEART; and then c) going for an easy (sorry: EASY!!) ride the next day. By easy, it means keeping your heart rate at 70% of maximum or less. This will not only burn fat very nicely and efficiently (which is the preferred fuel of all human hearts at that level of work), but it will flush any leftover toxins (that the massage didn't clear out) from your hard-working limbs.

If it's hilly where you live/ride, then I'd strongly suggest getting an indoor trainer or set of rollers and simply pedaling with very little resistance for at least 20 minutes. This "active rest" is actually MUCH MORE beneficial than simply not exercising the day after a tough ride, since it gets the blood flowing to all the muscles and helps "clean out" the legs from a previous workout. This is clinically proven stuff, not just my take, and can be learnt from many a training book or coach--not psychobabble.

When you're pedaling easily, you shouldn't even be close to being out of breath. You should be going easier than you think you should be going. Feel guilty; it means that your muscles will reap much better rewards for their work.

Mineral salts can really sink in and refresh tired, overworked muscles, and can make one feel very fresh and great afterwards and during a bath with them dumped in.

Don't underestimate massage, either--even self-massage. A massage doesn't need to be DEEP and forceful to flush bad stuff from tired muscles. Quick strokes and shakes where it hurts (again, always towards the heart) will help, even if it doesn't feel much less painful immediately thereafter. You're not kneading muscles or trying to rub the pain away, but your trying to flush them out and get the blood circulating properly and strongly to these aching areas.

Best of luck, and remember how important recovery is to ANY training program.

Cheers,
Nige
The mineral cureKerry
Mar 10, 2002 4:22 PM
Some good advice here, though muscle bulk certainly is not scar tissue, and to suggest salt is absorbed through the skin and then into muscles is quite a stretch. Warm water is helpful, as it stimulates blood flow - a sauna can be great for the same reason. If you need more minerals in your blood stream, you'd better be eating them rather than expecting absorption through the skin.
Complicated topic...Kyle
Mar 7, 2002 8:51 AM
But here are a few ideas:

1: I have never seen compelling scientific evidence presented on active recovery--though the fact that the pros all do it suggests it probably works. Perhaps through stretching and marginally increased blood flow. For most people, though, a day off the bike will work just as well or better. Lactic acid appears to flush itself an hour or so after a workout, no matter what you do.

2: Hard intervals/running may tax different fibers than an aerobic ride--so you may be able to go aerobic after a hard (short) interval day and see benefit. Eventually, though, you'll probably need a day off. I tend to max out at 3-4 days on.

3: Massage is great, but I don't know that it actually speeds physical recovery. Certainly mental recovery...

4: Muscle mass is not the result of a build up in scar tissue.

5: Diet may be the most important recovery factor and shouldn't be ignored.

Good luck, and sorry I don't have any pat answers.
One More Note on RecoveryJon Billheimer
Mar 7, 2002 4:39 PM
I find sleep just as important as diet to recovery. It's during sleep that HgH is released to facilitate protein synthesis and muscle repair.

Second, lactic acid is not the culprit in muscle soreness and recovery. It's gotten a bad rap. One, as Kyle points out, lactic acid is either flushed out of a muscle cell and/or taken up by an adjacent cell and converted back to pyruvate for fuel. Two, it's hydrogen ions that do the dirty work and damage within the cell and to the cell wall. Bottom line? Get adequate rest and nutrition so that your muscles can refuel and rebuild.
Good point...Kyle
Mar 8, 2002 8:57 AM
I've found that 9-10 hrs a day when you're training hard isn't too much.

On another note, I read that a short nap after a workout increases HGH output. Don't know how much though. Is all your HGH released in the first, say, half hour of sleep or is it released slowly throughout a full night's sleep? And can you actually get more HGH by sleeping/replenishing multiple times a day than sleeping in one long stint?

Enough naps and you'll end up looking like a Soviet era wrestler...