Just Don't Seem To Have The Legs

By Peg Labiuk | 05/10/11
Untitled Document


We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at trout_mic@msn.com, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Voler E-mail list member Jon Edwards is our 73rd winner of a $20 Voler gift certificate! His training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Just Don't Seem to Have the Legs

Hi there,

I'm 47 and ride with a group that's pretty consistent with putting in 100 miles a week in three pretty vigorous rides. Mondays and Wednesday we're heads down pedal stomping for most of the 25 miles each day, then weekends we do fifty or more miles at a little more leisurely pace.

I've had to miss a few (ok, most) of the weekend distance rides, so worried maybe it's just that I'm not getting in the miles. But, my problem - while I used to enjoy doing a lot of the pulling on these rides, now I just don't have the legs this year. Heart rate isn't crazy high, it just feels like I don't have the legs.

Is it likely a lack of miles? How can I build more leg strength? Do just the usual interval training? Should I protein load a few hours before my rides to build muscle?


Jon in Fresno

Dear Jon,

This is a common scenario – being time crunched, used to being able to jam with the guys, nearing the half century age mark. And you are right – it is essentially lack of miles, more specifically of the aerobic base, that makes you feel like you are lacking "the legs". You have trained the anerobic threshold, but missed the base rides. Therefore, you are undertrained in the underlying recovery system. You can read about a similar scenario of Mark, whose query was published in April ( http://www.voler.com/site/post.aspx?li=Middle-Age-Hanging-in-There-When-the-Hammer-Comes-Down ). He also hammered with the younger, fast guys and could out climb them to boot. Now he's getting dropped on the flats. I suggested he do some high speed work – sprints, building up to 8 x 30 seconds. Also, as much as we hate to admit it, our bodies are changing and losing strength. Some form of strength training, whether it be on the bike or in the gym, especially to counter quad strength decline would be beneficial too.

It was another Voler Connect reader who posted a comment on Marks' reply that cued me to the undertraining idea. He's right! I certainly know the guys who jam along, don't have time for other training, and gradually lose it as they in effect burn-out, riding at or above anaerobic threshold but not enough below the redline to support it. I have experienced this all my cycling life, being a female trying to keep up with the guys. At some point, I just have to ride my own pace and build that aerobic base. I can do that sitting in, riding solo, or using indoor workouts at my pace, keeping my heart rate well below threshold. It's doing your homework. Now it's your turn to do your homework, Jon.

Coach Peg

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