Rebuilding Fitness After 4-5 Months

bouefMalaise

New Member
Location
Scotland
Hi people, hope I find you well. I'm new around here and just looking for some advice...

Up until September 2014 I was regularly putting around 150 miles a week, and was comfortably averaging about 14-16 mph on rolling road/mild off-road (tracks, canal paths, etc) on my trusty old hybrid. Not astonishing performance, of course, but reasonable for me and was keeping me fairly fit. At that point I'd been cycling regularly for around four years.

Then an abrupt change in my personal situation put me off the bike (and most cardiovascular exercise) until this week. Climbing back on the bike for the first time in nearly 5 months yesterday, and hitting an old favourite fitness loop (12 miles) I was completely shocked at my collapse in fitness. Small climbs that I could power up in 30/40 seconds before were a 90 second struggle; and the whole circuit basically left me a wheezing mess. Perhaps I went into it too hard, expecting too much after so much time off (and, I guess, fairly soon after the indulgences of the holidays); but I was pretty taken aback at my performance. In fact I felt a bit like I did when just starting out four years ago. At the moment, getting back to where I was seems a dim and distant prospect! It's left me quite despondent.

So, I suppose what I'm after is any tips or reassurances. What's the most efficient way to rebuild fitness? Will it return more quickly than it did in the first place? Have I really receded that much or do I just need a few weeks "blowing the dust off"?

Thanks in advance...
 

13 rider

Guru
Location
leicester
I guess there's no quick fix .you just have to accept the level your at now and slowly build back up .Just go steady and fitness will return don't try to hard and get down .Just get out at a steady pace and most of all enjoy it .
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
So, I suppose what I'm after is any tips or reassurances. What's the most efficient way to rebuild fitness? Will it return more quickly than it did in the first place? Have I really receded that much or do I just need a few weeks "blowing the dust off"?
You really will have lost quite of fitness in that time.

I would say to just get plenty of rides in, and make a few hard efforts here and there on every ride.

Never fear though - in my experience, fitness does come back more quickly after a break than gaining fitness in the first place. That is for a reasonably short break of months, rather than years!

Get stuck in and be flying by the summer. :thumbsup:
 

screenman

Legendary Member
I got back by using the Mathetone method of HR, no stress and I got a good base mileage down in about 12 weeks of 5 to 7 hours per week.

Riding at 129bpm which is what Mathetone states for my age, my average the first few rides was only 14mph over the next few months it increased to 18 mph average for the same low HR.

After a 6 week layoff with this recent virus I will be going back on it for 4 weeks.
 
OP
bouefMalaise

bouefMalaise

New Member
Location
Scotland
Thanks for all the quick replies. Interesting stuff, and I'm glad to hear at least one person thinks it's going to take less time to get back to where I was than it took to get me there in the first place.
@screenman - I'll look into this Mathetone method.

Just last August I did my first 100 miler, and while I found it challenging I was never in a position where I felt I couldn't complete it; and a regular Saturday morning route of mine was 25 miles with 2000' of climbing. Now I seem to be struggling with an easy 12 mile circuit with about 400' - it is very demoralising! Legs were burning, I was wheezing and I was trembling like crazy when I got home. I've been kidding myself and attributing part of it to the cold weather...
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
In my experience if your base level of fitness was pretty good you'll bounce back pretty quickly and may even surpass your previous fitness levels,good luck and remember the biggest journey always starts with the smallest step
 

jarlrmai

Veteran
Facing the same problem but with the added complication of knee injury rehab and I'm 36.

The cold weather doesnt help either, everything works less efficiently and it's harder to cycle.
 
I have been here twice before, and sadly facing a 3rd recovery at some point this year (hopefully).

First time around, it took ages and ages for me to recover and even a couple of miles was exceptionally difficult. I placed unrealistic expectations on myself and didn't help myself by making life harder than it needed to be. I also started commuting to work by bike which at first exhausted my despite it only being 5 miles. It took 3 or 4 months before that no longer exhausted me and I could manage it every week day plus a rice with my husband at the weekend.

2nd time around I knew what to expect (after the dog attack for those who know me) and i set myself a target of doing a flat 10 mile ride with no speed or time restrictions 3 times a week. I stopped as often as I needed to and didn't care what others thought. Once I was good with that and routinely finding that easy, I started extending it and commuting again (once a week to college) from there the rest came with not placing any expectations on myself except to arrive in one piece. Pace was not important. It took me probably the best part of 18 months to get to commuting 22 miles each way 3 times a week, and routinely doing 100km rides at the weekend. I did my first 100 miller back on a very hot summers day this summer just gone. I couldn't push the recovery any faster because of the injury I sustained. From starting riding again to this summer was 2 years, but there are a few other nasty medical conditions that complicate matters and make recovery slower for me.

From what you are saying, and from experience and without knowing how old you are, which changes matters significantly, it sounds like you are expecting too much of yourself and you need to accept that recovery will take time. It will happen if you are determined enough (or in my case just down right stubborn enough), but you need to take your (unknown) age into account, you need to take the extra body weight and fat into account, you need to take your lack of fitness into account and quite possibly take into account whatever or was that caused you to have to stop in the first place.

I'm hoping my 3rd recovery will go smoother but realistically I'm still in the do I need yet another operation stage, not to mention what bike I'm going to be able to ride when I can finally sit up again!

Don't place unrealistic goals or expectations in the way. It is better to achieve something easily and then have to reassess your goals than it is to fail at something too hard/unrealistic and have to reassess. It is much less demoralising and much less disheartening. Also give up now on chasing people on strava, segments etc and just challenge yourself if you need targets to aim for. Your recovery period is a time to be a realist, not a dreamer; a time to compete only against yourself not against others.

Best wishes.

SNSSO
 

si_c

Veteran
Location
Wirral
I'm in broadly the same place as you, had to stop riding in september following an off, only got back on the bike again at the beginning of this month, and having pretty much similar problems to you. I just don't seem to have the power or stamina that I did before. I've just been doing what the advice above has been, just get the mileage down and push where I can.

I've noticed some improvements, for example my legs aren't aching at the end of the road anymore :biggrin:
 

gbb

Legendary Member
Location
Peterborough
You really will have lost quite of fitness in that time.

I would say to just get plenty of rides in, and make a few hard efforts here and there on every ride.

Never fear though - in my experience, fitness does come back more quickly after a break than gaining fitness in the first place. That is for a reasonably short break of months, rather than years!

Get stuck in and be flying by the summer. :thumbsup:
I'm finding this too. After almost 2 years off the bike barring occasional ventures, i find myself struggling to make 14mph average over 20 miles where i used to do 16/17..up to 18 mph over 50 miles and more. The stamina is just not there (and why would it be ?)..i can push along, get out the saddle and push up inclines...i just cant sustain it like i used to.
Now is a poor time really to be trying to regain fitness, for me its too cold and inevitably its hard motivating yourself to get out there. For me right now, its just getting out as much as i can, maintaining what i currently have and looking forward to spring, then i'll really start working at it.
 

si_c

Veteran
Location
Wirral
Now is a poor time really to be trying to regain fitness, for me its too cold and inevitably its hard motivating yourself to get out there. For me right now, its just getting out as much as i can, maintaining what i currently have and looking forward to spring, then i'll really start working at it.
Definitely, I don't mind the cold so much necessarily, but it's been otherwise utterly foul the last week or so.
 

sheffgirl

Senior Member
Location
Sheffield
I've had just over 2 months off cycling, due to a combination of getting knocked off, the cold weather, and general laziness. Did 20 miles today, and I was about my normal speed on the way to work, but 2/3 mph slower on the way home (its more uphill, 847ft vs 259). My legs really burned on the last long incline but I perservered and made it up without stopping, and felt very pleased with myself :smile:
Absolutely knackered when i got in though, laid on the bed for a few minutes to recover.
I need to keep at it, although we have snow forecast tomorrow so it wont be this week :sad:
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
I'm finding this too. After almost 2 years off the bike barring occasional ventures, i find myself struggling to make 14mph average over 20 miles where i used to do 16/17..up to 18 mph over 50 miles and more. The stamina is just not there (and why would it be ?)..i can push along, get out the saddle and push up inclines...i just cant sustain it like i used to.
Now is a poor time really to be trying to regain fitness, for me its too cold and inevitably its hard motivating yourself to get out there. For me right now, its just getting out as much as i can, maintaining what i currently have and looking forward to spring, then i'll really start working at it.
The colder weather makes a difference,your body just doesn't free up fully,also cold air in the lungs doesn't help,just keep getting out there, winter riding is what it is,don't expect too many records!
 
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