Question: I’m a long-time runner who recently switched to cycling due to knee problems. My injuries limited me to about 30 running miles per week, but now I can ride as much as I want and often do 300 miles per week.
I always felt fresh and ready to run races, but now I often lack motivation for centuries or even for training rides. Is there something about cycling that dampens enthusiasm? — Blaine P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Your experience is fairly common among hard-driving runners who switch to cycling.
Running is an impact sport, so overuse injury is a constant danger. As a result, most runners find workouts self-limiting. They can’t run more than 30-50 miles per week without getting injured by the pounding. Then they have to rest and recover, which protects them against overtraining.
Cycling, conversely, is a compliant sport with no debilitating contact (unless you count crashes or nasty saddle sores). Smoothly turning the pedals allows you to ride virtually as much as you want. And that’s the problem. On the bike you can go indefinitely.
But bodies have limits. In cycling, they’re marked not by stress fractures but by symptoms of systemic overtraining — depression, chronic fatigue, declining performances and lack of enthusiasm.
- First, carefully monitor your workouts and limit both distance and intensity. If you have to force yourself to ride, don’t ride.
- Second, devise a year-round plan that allows you to build mileage without overdoing it. A coach can be very helpful in this regard.