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My cup runneth over
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been in denial for the last several weeks but I am pretty sure my mountain bike fitness has decreased as I have been commuting more. Very hard to be scientific about this but I thought I would throw out my experience and see if anyone else has seen the same. Sorry if this is a repeat thread – I looked but nothing obvious came up.

I started commuting to work in March of this year. Prior to commuting I was mountain biking 5 – 6 times per week ~ 9 hours per week. Now I commute 3 - 5 times (7 ½ - 12 ½ hours) per week and mountain bike 1 -2 times (3 – 4 ½ hours) per week. My hours and mileage are both up since I have been commuting. Where I really feel the loss is on my week-end mountain bike ride that is 3 + hours long (and 3,000 ft vert). The last several of weeks I have really been struggling and have needed to rest quite often when previously I wouldn’t stop at all.

FWIW I also swim/run/gym 5 - 6 times (5 - 6 hours) per week too. No shortage of exercise in my life. Even taking the day off (completely) before the long mountain bike ride makes little difference. Sleeping well and continuing to eat poorly.

I suspect that the commuting lacks the hard climbs to an extent that I don’t have the strength when it comes to the longer mountain rides and 1 -2 mountain rides per week is not enough.

Thoughts?
 

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I suck at mountain biking now that I have a kid and commute mostly. It's just not as hard, doesn't build the strength, etc. My commute is all flat too, which doesn't help when I go up the hill :)
 

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Three thoughts:

Make sure you are not bonking from lack of fuel on your long ride. Eat well the dinner before, a solid breakfast, and some energy bar or gel or real food that agrees with you every hour on the ride. And be sure to drink enough too.

Marathoners know that if you want to run for 4 hours, or run up big hills, there is no substitute for training other than to build up to running that long, and running steep hills. You can't just do a bunch of short flat runs to prepare for a 4hr hilly race. no matter how many miles you log. So if you want to excel on 3hr + MTB rides, you may have to do more of them. Or just say, heck, it's normal to be tired after riding 3 hrs (my personal favorite) & quit while it's still fun & before you get hurt.

On the other hand, if this really only occurred in the last few weeks, you may just have some bug bugging you. Or if you're eating poorly, you could be anemic or something like that, making you tired quicker.
 

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I find that when I commute daily, I am lacking that punch in my pedaling. It hinders my road and MTB riding, but it's more obvious on the MTB. If I rest for a day or two my legs go back to normal. Not sure if it's my legs just needing time to heal or what, but I've been like that for years.
 

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I've noticed this same thing. What I try to do to compensate, is really push myself during my commute. When i see the little hills in front of me I stand up and attack the rise. Even if it's flat you can still stand up and attack for 2 to 3 minutes. Rest for 1 and repeat.
 

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In five months you've gone from 9 hours per week to 10-17 hours per week? With 5-6 hours per week in the gym or pool? Are you sure you're not over-trained? One of my signs of fatigue is running out of gas on longer rides, usually in the middle of a 4-hour ride when I'm really really far from home/the trailhead/the car. You might try an easy WEEK, not just a rest day, like 2 commutes and only one ride on the weekend, and see if you last longer the next weekend. Could you also throw some variety into your commute? My office is only eight miles from home, but I've got routes available from 25 minutes to five hours. If you're SURE you're not over-trained, maybe try a 3+hour ride mid-week on a week when you're only commuting three days. Variety keeps your brain fresh, not just your legs. Make sure you eat a bit during those longer rides, and good luck finding a solution.
 

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Starting to commute

I'm interested in seeing what you figure out. I usually MTB after work a couple of days a week and one on the weekend, but have been working 7 days a week. I have been pricing out building a rigid 29er to commute and maybe ride with the family on the trails. I haven't thought about losing fitness from commuting. I was hoping to gain some by building a single speed that will make me work. I rode today on my 26" full squish in my 44/11 to try and help a little with my climbing when I can make it to the trails. It may not be much issue here because the most elevation we have on the trails is about 450' total. Nothing compared to alot of places.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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If you don't have time for another off-road ride, maybe you have time to take the long way home once a week - doing a 3 hour road ride will help keep you in shape for a 3 hour MTB ride.

I think mountain biking requires a punchier style of riding than road riding tends to favor. Make sure you're varying your route, incorporating hills, and throwing in some traffic signal sprints.

I found having a 40/28 smallest gear was not realistic for me when I have to carry stuff up hills. So I got smaller chain rings for my commuter, and rides for which I need them don't break me down as much as fighting my way up hills with the previous gear and a load used to.
 

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It's about showing up.
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I have been in denial for the last several weeks

No shortage of exercise in my life.

Sleeping well and continuing to eat poorly.

I suspect that the commuting lacks the hard climbs to an extent that I don’t have the strength when it comes to the longer mountain rides and 1 -2 mountain rides per week is not enough.
Lots of info.

Lots of effort.

Poor diet

You are burning yourself up..
 

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Swedetarded
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Lots of info.

Lots of effort.

Poor diet

You are burning yourself up..
Agreed.

Overtraining is a nasty *****. And if you aren't eating well......ouch.

Start using commuting in a different way. Switch up your routes. Ride slow a couple days a week for active recovery, and I mean no breathing through your mouth kind of slow.
 

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Two things:

First, you really might be OVER training and that's the real culprit.

Second, and this one seems pretty intuitive to me... put togehter a training plan and make training rides out of your commute. If your normal route doesn't allow this becaus eit is too short, goes through too much traffic for a steady ride etc... make a route that both gets you to work eventually and gets in a real training ride. My commute is OK for days I want to get some sprints etc in, because it is a lot of traffic lights etc. interspersed along open bike lane riding (live in germany where the bike lanes are great and are traffic-light rgulated just like vehicle lanes) but it sucks when I need a steady tempo ride. Int his case I ease it through town as a warm up and then lengthen the out-of-town portion of my ride with a loop or two around some singletrack and fireroads.

I guess what I'm saying is change it so your not just commuting, but instead you're going on a training ride that just happens to end at work.
 

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My cup runneth over
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In five months you've gone from 9 hours per week to 10-17 hours per week? With 5-6 hours per week in the gym or pool? Are you sure you're not over-trained? One of my signs of fatigue is running out of gas on longer rides, usually in the middle of a 4-hour ride when I'm really really far from home/the trailhead/the car. You might try an easy WEEK, not just a rest day, like 2 commutes and only one ride on the weekend, and see if you last longer the next weekend. Could you also throw some variety into your commute? My office is only eight miles from home, but I've got routes available from 25 minutes to five hours. If you're SURE you're not over-trained, maybe try a 3+hour ride mid-week on a week when you're only commuting three days. Variety keeps your brain fresh, not just your legs. Make sure you eat a bit during those longer rides, and good luck finding a solution.
Good thoughts. My shortest route on the commute is 17 miles one way - not sure I want to take a longer route.

Hard to say about the over-training. In February I had a 17 day period where I rode (mountain) every day including two 3+ hour rides each week. Swimming running and gym staying the same (5 - 6 hours per week). I felt great, possibly stronger than usual.

I am also having a hard time NOT commuting - it's become an anathema to drive to work. I probably have a semi-hidden personality disorder that is getting exposed here...
 

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My cup runneth over
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Lots of info.

Lots of effort.

Poor diet

You are burning yourself up..
Hard to say for sure. The poorish diet didn't effect me as much before - possible it is catching up with me finally though.

Interestingly enough a week and a half ago I sut back on sugar and upped the healthier stuff (and protein) to see if it would help - too soon to tell yet.
 

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My cup runneth over
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2,412 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Two things:

First, you really might be OVER training and that's the real culprit.

Second, and this one seems pretty intuitive to me... put togehter a training plan and make training rides out of your commute. If your normal route doesn't allow this becaus eit is too short, goes through too much traffic for a steady ride etc... make a route that both gets you to work eventually and gets in a real training ride. My commute is OK for days I want to get some sprints etc in, because it is a lot of traffic lights etc. interspersed along open bike lane riding (live in germany where the bike lanes are great and are traffic-light rgulated just like vehicle lanes) but it sucks when I need a steady tempo ride. Int his case I ease it through town as a warm up and then lengthen the out-of-town portion of my ride with a loop or two around some singletrack and fireroads.

I guess what I'm saying is change it so your not just commuting, but instead you're going on a training ride that just happens to end at work.
My commute is 95% bike paths which is great at 5:30 in the morning with no one out. I find I can push the pace almost the whole way with almost no stops (500 feet elevation gain) and get to work tired and buzzing. I am reluctant to ride the road (twice hit by cars years ago) and get in the stop/start sprints but probably good advice. I commuted every day last week and at 17 miles each way got in 230 miles of fast paced commuting. I am reluctant to take a longer route without relaxing my pace. I look to the mtb to get in the varied pace (grind/cruise etc).
 

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I got the velcros
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You're simply doing too much with too little recovery time. Recovery is just as important as the exercise itself, and your body is tired.

Exercise is a bell curve, there are downward slopes on either end of "ideal"
 
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and this is exactly the reason i ride to work SLOW. after all, nobody wins the commute 500.

i've also found that after roughly nineteen years of daily bike commutes, i need to take a day or two off from time to time. it becomes monotonous.

good luck getting this all sorted out, rmac.
 

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If your fitness is suffering

with that schedule then your over training and not allowsing your bod to recover.
 

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Yup...

You ned to first let your bidy recover...

Then you need to let it recover every week.

That means some easier workouts or more days off.
 

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My cup runneth over
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I hear the resounding message of over-training. I will give 'resting' a try and see if it makes a difference (I hate resting :)).
 

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It's about showing up.
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Cutting back on sugar, on the face of it, always seems like a no-brainer. However, it does have some positive dietary functions that you need to cover.

In broad brushstrokes and high activity levels and dietary changes are a very challenging combination.

I have had luck with keeping track of food intake with:

http://www.fitday.com/

A free membership allows you to go online and record you food and fluid intake in a database creates a nutritional value and total s it up. There are standard values for foods and ways to customize special foods not on the list. Take care with that part. I over valued a food and underfed myself for a period of about 3 weeks. Ooops!

It has an additional component which assigns values to your activity and helps you to compare the two modalities comprehensively for general balance between food intake and energy output.

It's not the last word but it is a pretty useful device.
 
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