Stamina problems - any advice?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by Iris92, May 12, 2019.

  1. Iris92

    Iris92 New Member

    May 12, 2019
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    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post, so excuse me if I make any mistakes. I just wanted to get some advice about something that has been bothering me in a while, and I thought this was the most appropriate subforum in this website where I could post it.

    I am a 27-year-old female, overweight (BMI around 29, so borderline obese) and I have a moderate case of kyphosis. I have a very sedentary life style and have never really exercised regularly. I am citing these facts, because I think they might be relevant to what I am going to say.

    To put it in a nutshell, I get tired too quickly when I exercise, and this is something that first came to my attention last summer, after I was admitted to grad school. I grew up in a big city with almost no bike lanes and with a chaotic traffic, so I never used bikes for transportation for safety reasons. In fact, I didn't know how to ride a bike - I had never even owned one. My new university, however, was going to be in a nice suburban area with lots of bike lanes, so I thought I should learn to ride a bike, as I would need it for transport. So I started taking bike lessons. Learning to find my balance was easier than I thought, but I quickly realized that even turning the wheels was too effortful for me - which also tremendously surprised my instructor. I got incredibly tired after biking around for 6-7 minutes and had to take frequent breaks, sit on a bench, catch my breath, drink plenty of water, and then get back on the bike, only to take another break just 6-7 minutes later. My legs also got fatigued easily, and once I lost my balance and fell off the bike after I pulled the brakes. I felt like my legs weren't going to carry me at that point.

    Long story short, I have been in grad school for about 9 months now. The town I live in is a paradise for cyclists, but I am terrified of getting a bike. I always tell my friends that I am not used to riding a bike in the traffic and that I am afraid of getting hit by a car, even on a bike lane. The truth is, I am not scared of the traffic - I am scared of the bike (or the exercise) itself. I just don't want to collapse in the middle of the road, or to have to stop my bike every 5 minutes to catch my breath. What do you think could be the reason I am so exercise-intolerant? Is it because I am overweight? The problem is, I have seen many people here who are way fatter than I am, but they seem to bike around without any problems. I just don't have the stamina they have. I also thought about my kyphosis condition, and whether that might be making it hard for me to bike, as biking forces you to hunch your shoulders a bit, exacerbating an unnatural posture that I already have.

    I thought a good next step for me could be to buy a stationary bike for myself (those bikes they have at the gym) and practise on it every day for maybe 30 minutes, in order to get used to the leg motions required by cycling, to lose some weight, and to build stamina - so I can hopefully get a real bike once I feel confident and start biking like my friends.

    But do you think this sounds like a good idea? Do you have any insight about what might be wrong with me, or any advice about whom to consult about this? Did you have similar problems when you first started biking?

    Thanks so much in advance,

  2. fatoldbiker

    fatoldbiker New Member

    May 4, 2019
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    I congratulate you on your openness and desire.
    I am going to only state the obvious and that is please discuss this with your doctor first.
    It may cost, but it will be money well spent.
    Good luck!
  3. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Member

    Apr 17, 2005
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    I agree - consult your doctor. Anemia could be an issue...or something else.

    And I think riding at the gym is a good idea and maybe you are starting out too hard - it takes some time for your body to warm up.
  4. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2003
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    So what happens if you exert yourself off the bike, go for a walk for instance? Maybe at a slight incline.
    If you get tired as fast by walking as you do bicycling, then it's your overall fitness that's the main culprit.
    If you can walk just fine, but tire quickly on the bike, then it's something bicycle-specific.
    One possibility is that you tense up far more than you actually need to, and it's this excess muscle tension that tires you out.
    Would fit well with your worries of riding overall.
    Only cure for that is to ride, build confidence and learn to relax those muscles not needed.
    Try riding while being observant on what your body is doing apart from the obvious.
    Do you have a white-knuckle grip on the bars? Are you holding your torso rigid?
    Cycling should be - well, cyclic. Fluid, easy motions blending into each other.
    If you're constantly fighting the bicycle, and yourself, no wonder it tires you out.
    It's called "riding" not "driving" for a reason.
    You guide the bicycle to where you want it to go, you don't force it.

    While I congratulate you on your desire to lose weight, you need to be realistic about it and do some homework.

    30 minute sessions on a stationary bike, or any bike, is HUGELY unlikely to be your ticket to a new and slender you.
    At my average effort level during a commute, I burn about 800 cals/hour.
    30 minutes of that is about one cupcake's worth of calories.

    At your description, you're probably looking at less than half of that.

    Meaning if what you eat during a day leaves you with an excess amount of calories equal to or greater than half a cupcake, those 30 minutes of riding will, at best slow down your weight gain.

    So, with very few exceptions, any serious attempt at weight loss pretty much has to start with controlling what/how much you eat.

    And that "drink plenty of water", it might be worth it to dial that down a bit.
    Sure, if you want to keep performing at peak effort for hour after hour, then it is important to stay on top of your hydration.
    But unless you're sweating buckets, you really can't get dehydrated enough to matter within an hour.
    Having a sip can rinse your mouth, make you feel refreshed etc, but you shouldn't need to be gulping it down.
    It's displacement activity, a chance to take a breather. Don't load your body down with too much water when it's already very busy dealing with balance and unaccustomed motion patterns.