Note the title: The Coach Injures Himself rather than The Coach Gets Injured. I gotta take responsibility for this one.
My wife and I are avid Nordic skiers and cross-country skiing in Norway has been on our bucket list for years. We spent three weeks there in February. I skied 40:10 hours in 15 days without a day off. But I’d only skied 29:10 hours in all of January. My wife is smarter and took an occasional rest day, but I wasn’t going to waste a day!
When we got home the stairs to the front door were a lot steeper than when we left! We both had tired legs.
I didn’t ski or ride for most of a week while I paid the “vacation tax” catching up on work. Then spring came to Boulder, Colorado, with temps in the 60s! I just couldn’t resist riding. And temps in the 40s in the mountains meant great spring skiing!
Now my left knee is talking to me. Not yelling at me yet, but definitely letting me know it isn’t happy with how I’ve treated it. And clearly telling me to take it easy.
Spring Knee Has Sprung
I have “spring knee.” Fortunately, it isn’t contagious or terminal!
Spring knee is an overuse injury – the result of increasing the workload too quickly. While easy to explain, once you develop spring knee it may require weeks of recovery. Unless you want to begin 2017 with a setback, the best approach is prevention.
Now spring is here — both by the equinox and by the weather — how do you avoid spring knee?
One Overload at a Time
You get fitter by asking your body to do more than it’s used to doing and giving it time to recover. It responds to this overload by getting stronger. You can overload your body in 5 ways:
1. Increasing Frequency — Increasing the number of days that you work out
2. Increasing Duration — How long you work out
3. Adding Volume – How many hours you work out, the result of #1 and #2
4. Increasing Intensity — Riding harder
5. Changing Modalities — Changing to riding from cross-training workouts
Each of these adds stress. To be safe, change only one of them at a time. Also, do these:
Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, use it for recovery. (VeloNews, June 2015) Remember that your body gets fitter if you overload it and allow it to recover.
Remember that overload is cumulative. As you increase your riding, back off on other activities.
Ramp up your riding slowly: an increase in hours of exercise of not more than 10% per week is usually safe.
Keep Your Knees Warm
The circulation of blood around the knees is poor, and when it’s cool outside circulation is worse, resulting in knee pain.
It’s easy to spot the pro racers training around Boulder: they wear knee warmers when it’s in the 60s.
My 26-page eArticle Spring Training: 10 Weeks to Summer Fitness contains four different 10-week programs. The programs are planned to help prevent spring knee. They range from a program for riders who’ve trained for 4 – 6 hours this winter up to riders who’ve trained 10 – 12 hours. The programs are also designed for riders with different goals for 2017. Just $4.99; $4.24 for Premium Members!
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John's full bio.