Pattern Recognition

by Dhamaka

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"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"........ Albert Einstein

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This is my personal blog, not a venue for saleable images. In fact, because it's here that I share things that are important to me with the members of the moblog community, photo quality's not my priority. Events, occasions, achievements, thoughts, trips and experiments - you'll find them all here. Contact me for the development version of my photo portfolio, for a selection of saleable images or visit my dance photography blog or my website for cuttings. And remember that all photos remain my copyright unless I've specifically said otherwise.

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I have a commission to write about an exciting new cycle route. It'll be something Europeans haven't done before and will need a reasonable level of fitness. The trip hasn't been confirmed yet, but to hit the deadline the latest I'll be able to do it's the first week in August. So I have to start training right now.

Until this week it had been near enough 4 months since I had been on a bike. That on its own wouldn't be much of a problem. I could throw myself into training and be completely sure of getting cycle fit within the coming month. But as you know, during that time I was seriously ill. Scarily debilitatingly seriously ill.

I'm mostly better and need to get in training again.

I started with a round trip of 3 miles on Monday. After a round trip of 4 miles on Thursday I felt ill (but just the kind of ill you'd expect getting back into training). This morning I did a round trip of 6 miles. However, I'm really struggling on the uphill bits (they're nearly horizontal, the kind that little old ladies lightly skip along, on the way to the supermarket so that's worrying).

I know my body well, am accustomed to hard training and know how to supplement and manage myself in the normal course of events. But I've never done it after being seriously ill, still don't know what I had and can't afford for it to come back or to miss the opportunity.

Any suggestions? When should I start on off-road training? What about gym work and other similar stuff? How can I maximise recovery after being so ill? What kind of pacing might be done? Should I anticipate an exponential kind of progress, one in steps or a linear progression? What danger signs should I be aware of?
... What else don't I know to ask...?

There are quite a few good cyclists on moblog and others who may have relevant experience with other sports or who have medical backrounds. I'll consider any serious advice

mike grenville(mike-at-changingworlds-dot-ibfo) says:

just keep doing little and often and gradually increase

28th Jun 2008, 14:31

Toddy says:

Hello........firstly its REALLY good to hear your getting better.

I have never been in this situation my self but I have read a lot about it.

You must be very careful to start your work outs very slowly and build up. You muscle system will be very depleted and will need to build up that as a foundation first so Gym work is a must bt with very small weights to build up foundation muscles first.

A lot of top level athletes have actualy recovered and came out stronger than they where before as they can just build the muscles they need and therefore be more "purpose built".

So do as you are but eat well and listen to your body, please don't over do it as we don't want you ill again.

Good luck and keep me posted on how you get on.


28th Jun 2008, 16:49

Doug(cyclist451-at-yahoo-dot-com) says:

I sent you what suggestions I could earlier. The bottom line is there is not short cuts. You just need to do the miles. Get used to going further and longer, spending time in the saddle. The hills and things like that can come later. I am expecting updates from you :-).


28th Jun 2008, 18:44

JokerXL says:

Living in Holland as I do, a country well known for it's cycling expertise, my well considered advice would be;
'av a break, 'av a KitKat.
Look after yourself D, good to hear you're on the up, let's keep it that way.

28th Jun 2008, 19:30

Dhamaka says:

thanks all - your feedback is much appreciated
Joker - I'll have the break without the kitkat thanks. Already fatter/ wobblier than I like as a result of 3 months of inactivity
Doug - you're on!

29th Jun 2008, 11:10

Hi D, little and often is the key to the early stages, so you're doing the work, but with plenty of recovery time in between, and then build up slowly as you feel your strength returning. I tend to agree with Toddy about doing some gymn work too, although I'd suggest a rowing machine rather than weights, to work specifically on your core muscles. Keep off the kitkats, the world's best training snack is of course the jaffa cake!
The main thing to remember is that the recovery time is just as important as the the actual working time, which is something most of us tend to forget.
Good luck with it, wish I was able to come along and do some training with you!

29th Jun 2008, 11:45

Thanks PH.. Much appreciated. I'll get to you guys one day. Gym work + cycling it is, and I had better stock up on Jaffa cakes

(it's not so much forgetting about recovery time as feeling frustrated that I need so much at the moment)

29th Jun 2008, 11:51

JokerXL says:

I do nothing BUT recovery time, it's great, but I look like Buddha and couldn't walk two blocks.

29th Jun 2008, 13:28

Dhamaka says:

I'm sure Anja would agree that you're a good looking buddha..

29th Jun 2008, 13:50

JokerXL says:

Ah, you're my friend for life D.

29th Jun 2008, 14:55

Spiderbaby says:

Good to see you're feeling more like yourself, but don't over do things and set yourself back.
Could swimming help? I'm rubbish at swimming but it is supposed to be very good for general fitness and building stamina and stuff like that. And now you read about athletes finding training in something completely different to their sport (in addition of course!) quite helpful to their overall fitness. If you like swimming maybe that could help build you up?
Hope you feel fitter soon.

29th Jun 2008, 17:53

harimanjaro says:

So you've got just over a month - you don't set easy targets, do you?

For me the foundation is in feeding: you can't train without fuel in your tank. Good old-fashioned carbo-loading is what I go for; pasta is your friend. Use energy drinks for recovery after rides; carbs consumed immediately after exercise get processed much more efficiently than they would be a few hours later. Eat while you're riding; dried fruit is great, instant energy and easy to eat. I rode the coast-to-coast with my pockets stuffed with dried apricots and Cadbury's Fudge. Drink lots of water before, during and after rides.

Split your training rides between steady pace rides and intervals: ride fast for a bit, then ride slowly to recover, repeat until knackered. Cross training is great but the best exercise for cycling is riding a bike and you don't have much time or spare energy for other activities. I've seen some people build up bike fitness surprisingly quickly by going to spinning classes.

Recovery time is vital, especially while your fitness level is low. Don't ride every day; not yet. Above all listen to your body - getting well is much more important than getting fit, the last thing you need is a relapse.

How far will you be riding on the trip? What sort of terrain?

29th Jun 2008, 22:01

thank you Spiderbaby
Hari - that's really useful. Don't actually know yet. Don't know even if it will be confirmed. Northern Latin America and the Andes (not Argentina). It should be somewhere between 1 and 2 weeks worth for someone of reasonably good cycling fitness. It's not up to me and I'm worried about saying too much in case it doesn't come off....

29th Jun 2008, 22:41

Dhamaka says:

thank you 095

1st Jul 2008, 08:07