Question: Because of my work schedule, I have ridden sporadically for the last 20 years, logging about 1,500 miles annually and doing one or two centuries just for fun. Last winter I took early retirement and decided to devote full time to cycling. I rode 5,000 miles in 8 months and improved fast. But now I’m tired and can’t stand the thought of hammering with the young guys on another group ride. What happened? I thought hard work was supposed to make me better. — Harry N.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I only have anecdotal evidence, but I suspect that there’s a large number of new retirees who try to cram into six months all the things they wanted to do during their working lives.
And I’d bet that a fairly sizeable percentage are cyclists who go from 100 miles a week to 300-400 after retirement. They add intervals, racing and hard group rides, too.
Soon they’re exhausted. There may be a new medical syndrome in the making — Old Fogy Burnout Syndrome. (At 70, I’m allowed to say that.)
New retirees with time on their hands and a craving to defeat aging think they can train like a pro. But pros are a lot younger.
Here’s another trap: Hard-charging and successful people often think that if they’re not as physically gifted as other riders at leastthey can outwork them.
But talented riders are talented at recovery, too. So they work really hard, recover fast and get stronger. The rest of us work hard, don’t recover sufficiently and get slow, tired, depressed and dropped.
The solution is pretty simple. Train sensibly and then rest. Don’t ride hard again until you’re recovered enough to garner improvement from the next training session. This approach is the core of the year-round program in my Complete Book of Road Bike Training.
You don’t need fancy medical indicators to tell when you’re recovered. Eagerness to ride again is the best marker.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.
Dan Waiswilos says
I have been retired for fifteen years now and about five years ago started to “seriously “ cycle again. A long while ago I did some racing and rode with the “bad boys” in our club. I was at least twenty years older than my comrades but could put some seriously good hurt on them back then especially during our Saturday morning group shootout. I prided myself on being the fastest sprinter in the club. Oh how fragile the male ego!! I now try to bike five days a week doing twenty five to forty miles on some extremely steep mountain roads. I am,once again, Loving my time on the bike. Here’s the problem: I have been passed by other riders climbing the passes around here by obviously much younger and fit riders and. I cannot seem to accept my relative weakness . It, in fact, ruins my ride and sometimes I obsess about It all day! I am soon to be 75 years old and my ridiculous mind won’t let me believe that I can’t do what was once easy! I am not sure what to do about it other than to quit riding and take up couch surfing. Any tips from other readers that have had success in dealing with this ridiculous mind set? Any help is desperately needed.