Performance drop in the middle of long training rides

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by ejls2, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Hi all,

    Sorry if this has been asked before, I tried searching but didn't come up with anything that fits the bill. Apologies in advance for the long post.

    I'm luck enough to be doing a course this year which only requires me to get to work at 11 so I've taken the opportunity to do the journey in on the bike rather than the train.

    I live in Cambridge and commute to London in the mornings (95km). I get the train back at night though. The route undulates quite a lot with a few short sharpish hills after 23k and a few more around the 50k mark. The route also tends to be going straight into a headwind as the wind here blows mainly from just off the south.

    I'm not a very experienecd cyclist, though I am quite fit (I'm mainly a lightweight rower), but I've never been good on hills.

    For the first 50k or so all is fine (except on the hills) and I tend to stay at 28-32kph. Likewise the last 20k is also fine.I have to stop for junctions and things but basically I just power through as fast as is safe.

    However in between I feel like someone's been hitting my legs with hammers. My speed drops to about half what it previously was, amd it feels like I'm climbing the biggest hill in the world! All throughout this my HR stays pretty constant.

    Nutrition-wise I have a large brekfast of sugared, wheat based cerials and toast with jam before I go and I drink PSP22 and water throughtout the ride.

    Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this?

    My first thought was that it is purely psychological, I doubt it as I'm pretty good at pushing through pain barriers etc but I admit it's a possibility.

    Someone told me that it could be my body switching from burning glycogen to burning fat or something else. I haven't researched that but wouldn't it usually correspond to an increased HR? As a rower I'd imagine my body is pretty much used to short bursts of exertion (6.5 min races) and so this could be causing the problem with the change-over?

    Apologies once again for the length of this.

    Any help gratefully received!
     
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  2. sidewind

    sidewind New Member

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    Hei,

    I suppose that you ran out of carbonhydrates after those ~2 hours. So you could either ride a little bit slowlier in the beginning, or alternatively eat or drink more carbonhydrates during your ride. That 28-32 km/h pace is not bad at all.

    Antti
     
  3. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Thanks! I was worried that I'd get a whole load of people telling me how slow I am :( I've just fitted clip on aero bars and they seem to make a huge difference! I haven't got them properly set up though. I think I need to move my saddle forward some more and change the bar angle because I can only stay in the position for 10 mins or so before needing to go back up onto the hoods.

    Cheers for the advice re carbs. Any excuse to eat more pasta is fine by me so brekfast may be about to get even bigger! Going slower isn't an option;) I want to get the time down to <3 hours including traffic by this september when I start work so that I can set off at 5.30 and get in by 8.30.

    I might also increase the concentration on my carb drinks and take some snack bars with me to munch on the way down.

    Thanks once again,

    Ed


     
  4. benkoostra

    benkoostra New Member

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    Welcome to the wonderful world of THE BONK! It's a condition wherein you completely lose all power and can easily be passed by senior citizens on mountain bikes. I know, I had the experience.
    All you need is to bring some power bars or the like with you and eat regularly. I finally figured out that I need to eat a bar every 12 - 15 miles to avoid bonking. That's all there is to it! I'm sure your schedule will vary a bit, That's all there is to it!
    Try it, then report back on the results.
     
  5. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Keeping your carb levels up is of course important, and the aerobars should help too. But suggest you experiment a bit with your pace. Try to ride the first 50k slower than your average speed, maybe 25 kph, then faster for the rest. If you can avoid the big slowdown in the middle, your total time for the commute will likely be less.

    Impressive that you're taking on a 95 km commute into work...that's a long way to go in the AM. Your goal of under 3 hours sounds pretty tough to me though. Wouldn't worry too much about short-term speed goals; if you keep up this schedule, your speed will just naturally increase. After all, if you average 3 hours 15 minutes for the 58 mile trip, that's hardly a failure.... you're getting tremendous benefits every day before you start work.
     
  6. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    I like this forum, you guys are friendly! Thanks dhk, In my brain I know you're right and that total journey time is more important than split time but I have a hard time persuading the rest of my body:(

    I think I'll try your suggestion on Monday and take it a bit slower but try to keep it more consistent throughout. My overall time is likely to be slower anyway as it's forecast to be raining and I'll be riding my singlespeed (just built for this very purpose) rather than usual road bike.

    Last year before I got injured and not long after I'd taken up cycling I was doing 60K rides in a fair bit less than 2 hours without aero-bars. Hopefully I can maintain that speed for a bit longer once I'm fit again. If not, then I won't be too pissed off though. This route has a few too many traffic lights to make it trully predictable.

    Cheers,

    Ed

     
  7. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Oh, sorry Benkoostra I didn't see your response!

    I think you may well be right too! I took a bit of food with me today instead of my usual tactic of relying on energy drinks and it made it much easier. I'll take some more next week.

    I think I'm going to get a couple of those tri-style water bottle holders, one behind the seat and one on the aero bars. I need more water carrying capacity anyway and, if memory serves, some of them have spaces to carry powerbars and gels etc. Otherwise I may just tape them to the bars every morning.

    I do have pockets on my jersey but I can't use them because I have to wear a backpack to hold all my work and stuff.

    Cheers once again,

    Ed
     
  8. AmpedCycle

    AmpedCycle New Member

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    I've seen this happen, too. I think I've attributed it to a few things:
    1. Overtraining
    2. Bonk
    3. Sore from the previous day
    4. Not trained hard enough
    5. Still adapting to current workload after a long winter

    If this seems like a multiple choice test, then you're right. And so far you're getting an F! Muhuhuahahaha
     
  9. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Hmm...

    1. No, current training regime is a significant decrease in terms of duration and intensity from 45 hours a week for the boat race.

    2. Here's where my money is.

    3. Same performance drop even when I've had days off beforehand with no training

    4. Quite possibly, though again previous training regime was fairly hardcore and the current one isn't exactly easy.

    5. Again quite poss, but this applied last summer after my training had peaked as much as it applies now.

    Cheers for the input,

    Ed
     
  10. NuCommuter

    NuCommuter New Member

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    Greetings from the "other" Cambridge. I'm a kayak racer (or "canoe racer," as you'd say in G.B.), but the same experience is very familiar from ocean marathon races. Basically, your liver and muscle glycogen hold 1000-1500 kilocalories of readily available energy. When you use that up, 1-2 hours in to your race, your body has to change metabolism to start burning fat. In this transitional time, many people bonk (including me). Even after you convert, and get a "second wind," it's not as comfortable to keep moving as if you have carbs readily available.

    My two cents about carbohydrates while moving: for me, liquid carbs just don't work as well as solid. Even among solid carbs, I need the right balance of carb, protein, and fat to satisfy me, and then I get a sustained surge of energy (which is very visible in my split times). For me, "Zone" bars and "Harvest" Powerbars are perfect. Presumably, each person's metabolism is different in terms of how much quickly-digested carb, how much slowly-digested carb, and how much protein and fat make up the "perfect" mixture. I'm guessing that protein and fat delay the carb absorption, so you don't get a blood glucose peak, which makes your body make insulin, followed by a crash. That's what regular Powerbars do to me (and besides, they freeze solid when racing in cold weather here in New England). In addition, the protein and fat are a long-acting energy source, so you don't have to eat as frequently. One Zone bar every 40 minutes is all I need for a marathon race.

    NuCommuter
     
  11. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Greetings!

    Thanks for the info. I remember reading about the glycogen limit before hand but as our races are only about six minutes long I never really studied it properly :(

    Thanks to everyone for all the info, I'll experiment with different foodstuffs over the coming week (if the wind and the rain don't put me off) and i'll try and work out what works best. I've bought a couple of types of energy bar, some cereal bars, some harribo and some SiS gels so we'll have to see what works :)

    I also just bought a behind-the-saddle type water bottle mount so I can carry another couple of bottles of PSP/water.

    Will report back when I have some results, cheers once again!

    Ed
     
  12. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Right, the results are in....

    I'm afraid I wasn't very scientific in my method so I changed umpteen variables at once but the results were rather attractive.

    I've upped my water carrying capacity to 4L (half PSP22, half water) and now take a big drink every 5k. I've also started eating an even larger breakfast in the morning and eating an alpen breakfast bar every 25k. Finally I adjusted the aero position on the bike to make it less aero but more comfortable so I now spend much longer in the position on the rides.

    My previous PB was about 3.45, my most recent rides have been 3.17.25, 3.12.04 and 3.03.04 (smidge of a tail-wind on that one) :)

    Thank you very much to everyone who gave me ideas. I'm hoping to break the three hour barrier tomorrow as there should be a stonking great tail-wind :)

    I wish the last bit wasn't in London as I lose all my speed there waiting for traffic lights but I guess I'll survive :)
     
  13. benkoostra

    benkoostra New Member

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    That's excellent! I too have found that even a little dehydration can really cause me to feel weak.
    Congrats.
     
  14. bikeguy

    bikeguy New Member

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    You slightly exceeded your max power for the first bit, got tired, slowed down and became refreshed and then sped up again.

    I used to have the same thing doing a 1 hr indoor workout, would start to feel very fatigued around the 30 min mark. After doing many 1 hr workouts what used to be hard to maintain for the hour became easy and I better paced them, and now I don't experience a drop off in power in the middle.

    Keep in mind outdoors the wind and hills will conspire to temporarily fatigue you. This especially happens if the rider hates dropping below a certain speed.

    -Bikeguy
     
  15. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Thanks Bikeguy,

    Me? not want to drop below a certain speed? Never!

    Steadier pacing + Better nutrition sees to = better performance.

    I'll keep plugging away and see how it goes :)

    Ed
     
  16. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    Aaarrrggggghhhh!!!!

    3:00:03 :(

    Damn those traffic lights!
     
  17. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Wow Ed, you are making progress. No doubt all the great input here helped, and the adjustment to your aerobar position, but I'd not be surprised to hear you had a little tailwind today either!

    Bikeguy, your comments are right on target. When pushing into a headwind, elevation gains, or on poor road surfaces, the best thing is to forget the speed, downshift and just keep cadence and output to a comfortable level. On a loop route, just relax knowing how much fun it will be going downwind on the return leg.
     
  18. ejls2

    ejls2 New Member

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    I most certainly did have a tailwind (I said so a couple of posts back) but I think the changes are also helping quite a bit. I feel much less tired after the rides even when I've been pushing harder and kept my HR higher.

    I will definitely try to HR-cap my rides when I'm going back into a headwind and see what overall effect that has on my performance. I think it should probably be a good thing overall. SImilarly I wish my route was circular, but sadly it's straight north-south and in the opposite direction to the prevailing winds.

    Cheers once again,

    Ed
     
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