Question: I’ve been feeling great all season on our hard Sunday morning club ride, but last Sunday I felt terrible. My legs were empty. I wanted to quit 10 minutes after the start. I thought I was well prepared. In fact, I had stepped up my interval training and my mileage the month before, hoping to do especially well. Any ideas? — Martin S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You probably overtrained in the month before the ride and it caught up to you. If you aren’t getting better despite hard training, you’re probably not getting better because of hard training.
Your body has only so much adaptive energy for improvement. When you train too hard and too long without adequate rest, your performance (and your motivation) quickly declines.
A strong desire to quit is a classic symptom that you’ve pushed too hard. You should be going into competitive rides with eagerness. If you’re lethargic and feel like quitting, you’ve left your competitive fire out on your training roads.
The solution is about five days of complete rest. Take a nap instead of training. Be sure you’re adequately hydrated and eating enough carbohydrate to replace your muscle fuel (glycogen). Many cases of overtraining are caused by eating too little for the work you’re asking your muscles to do.
Start riding again by going easy for seven to 10 days. Then, assuming you’re feeling good, resume normal training. Avoid the excessively hard work and additional miles that got you in trouble in the first place.