Assessing the Struggle

03
May
2013

I feel like I know my body pretty well, and my diet and routine are disturbingly the same each and every day….so when my performance on the bike Struggling on a bicyclechanges, it makes me start to wonder what’s going on.

For the past couple weeks I’ve felt off, and I’m not biking up to what my usual standards generally are.  Not like it’s a drastic difference, but enough to  have me wondering.

When I first started feeling it, I thought I was coming down with something.  But it’s over two weeks later and my body still feels the same.  So what do you do when this happens?  Well, if you’re like me, you analyze and assess things hoping to find what’s causing it.

If you’re ever experiencing this yourself, here’s a list of what I went through in case you’d like to try it out.  Oh, and If any of you have other ideas, please share them with us as well.

Assessing the Struggle

Diet – This is probably one of the biggest things to consider.  Proper fuel is necessary in order to achieve performance on the bike (or anything else).  Even a change in diet is enough to set you off until things adjust.

Weather – Increased temperature can heat you up and make things feel harder when out on the bike.  Even worse is increased humidity…or a combination of both.  Sometime the temperature might be the same, but the added humidity makes things feel increasingly tough.

Stress – Our bodies weren’t meant to be stressed, and if you’re like me….a bike ride is a perfect cure.  But if you are stressed, it can take a toll on your bike performance.

Equipment – How many times have you been out riding, find yourself struggling and then look back to make sure your back brake isn’t rubbing on the rim?  Yeah, I’ve had rides like that where I felt something must be dragging me down….and then realize that it’s not an equipment issue.

But it could be.  Make sure your bike is tuned up and humming properly or it could be a cause of decreased performance.

Metabolic Cycle – I’ve never really looked into this very far, but I’m a firm believer that each of our bodies goes through up and down cycles.  A slight decrease in performance could simply happen because you’re fluctuating on a low cycle.

Burn Out – This is a big one.  Sometimes if you train and train and train, your body gets burnt out….and if it persists, you can even start seeing negative progression or illness.  There are many ways to avoid this, but adding recovery rides to your routine and taking structured time off the bike can help.  Avoid over-training and burn out…it will help keep you feeling good on the bike.

Sleep – Are you getting enough sleep?  Well if you’re a Parent like I am….you know what lack of sleep is all about.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a solid 8 hours of continuous sleep.  Your body may not need as much sleep as you think it does, but getting enough is still very important.

Wind – I already mentioned weather, but wanted to put wind in another category.  It has always been my nemesis, and it’s often been the culprit for some hard pushing out on the bike.  A strong wind can cut down your typical average speed by a couple miles per hour or more.

Okay, so after my self-analysis, I determined that my slight lack of performance was due to burn out and weather.

Overcoming the struggle on a bicycle

I really can’t remember the last time I took a week off from riding.  Yes, one of the hardships of living on a tropical island.  I’ve felt for a few weeks now that my body needed some time off, but I’ve been pushing it because with Mocha Spoke opening soon I knew my days would start getting very full.  I figured I’d rather wait to take time off until I was insanely busy.

The temperatures haven’t really increased, but I realized that the humidity has.  It’s definitely one of the causes for what’s been going on.  I’m actually feeling better now, but will be taking some days off from riding very soon.

How about you?  What do you do if you’re ever feeling like it’s a struggle out there on the road?

Enjoy Your Ride

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11 Responses to “ Assessing the Struggle ”

  1. Dr. V on June 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Great article! I’ve also found that in my chiropractic practice, cyclists who are out of balance cannot perform at their peak. Not only does it affect them biomechanically, it plays a big role in balanced body chemistry, affecting their body’s production of necessary chemicals that enhance muscular endurance and coordination. I think it’s important to keep a ride log. List all factors that contributed to a great ride or a horrible ride. See what shows up in the log consistently and plan accordingly. Again, thanks for the list of reminders.

  2. Eric Hutchins on June 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Nice jersey!
    Great well thought out post. I think that one of the hardest things to do when you are seriously training, is to really listen to your body and take some time off when you need it. A lot of time the indicators are so subtle you can miss them. I think from time to time even when you are feeling good you should just just shut it down and allow yourself to heal.
    But you also hit some other good points that have nothing to do with your body and to me they are good reminders to not get down on yourself if you have an off day.

  3. Julie Starling on May 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

    When my performance dips and my legs feel tired, i find several days of cutting back to slower 1-3 miles rides soon reenergizes me and gets me aching again for a longer ride again.

  4. Danny on May 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I seem to go in cycles where I dip down every now and again. I feel the same way and will go over everything trying to figure out what it is. It’s still a mystery and I just chalk it up to my biorhythms.

  5. Kevin on May 3, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Thanks Darryl! I’ve been having an off week myself. I think it’s due to the weather really starting to warm up here in west Texas (did a couple of rides in 85-90° this week). This post is a great reminder that there’s a lot of things that can have an effect on cycling performance. For me, I’m taking the next week easy, going on fun rides instead of hyper-focused training rides, and trying to remember to HAVE FUN!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on May 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      That’s a good idea, Kevin. Whenever you feel a little burnt out, having a fun ride (or rides) usually helps make things better. Let me know how it goes.

  6. Shawn McAfee on May 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Well, for me… It’s not actually a struggle on the bike, it’s a struggle “getting” on the bike.

    I had been doing really well and riding 4-5 days a week until 2 mondays ago. Then I had a nice crash where i endo’d and landed directly on my head.Since then I have been on the bike once. And I was even reluctant for that one ride.

    Part of it is due to stress, part of me feels like my body/bike betrayed me with that fall. And part of me is just brig lazy.

    The weird part is I honestly don’t want to get on my bike right now. I’ve been telling myself I’m going to get on it all week but just haven’t.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on May 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      Oh man, I never knew about that. Sorry, Shawn….I can imagine it to be a little rough to bounce back from. You need to find the love again, my friend. Get out for just a totally fun ride and start Loving the Bike again.

      • Shawn McAfee on May 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm

        Well… If I don’t find it real quick, I’m forcing it back in tomorrow… It’s race time. Ha ha!

  7. Eric on May 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

    That’s a pretty comprehensive list I would say. For me it is usually due to hot temperatures or overtraining.

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Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

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Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

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