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jrenaut
02-01-2012, 08:52 PM
So, as is inevitable once one realizes how easy and enjoyable it is to do things on a bike, I've been increasing the number of miles I ride per week. I started CaBi commuting, just shy of 7 miles a day, 3-4 days a week. Then I got my own bike and started taking the long way when I had the time. Soon I was commuting on all but the worst weather days. Then I got the kid trailer and do the daycare/school pickup. Then I realized that I could throw the older one in the trailer on a weekend when the younger one was napping and give the wife an hour or more in the middle of a Sunday with no outside responsibility. All wonderful things, but now I'm up to 60-70 miles a week (20-30 of that towing the trailer), and my legs are killing me.

Is this just something I need to push through and it will resolve itself, or are there things I should be doing to aid recovery?

PotomacCyclist
02-01-2012, 08:59 PM
Maybe you ramped up the mileage too quickly.

Try to schedule some easy days or rest days on a regular basis. The harder you ride, the more you need to pay attention to rest and recovery.

Towing the trailer may also be putting a lot more stress on your legs than solo riding would. (I don't know for sure since I've never towed a bike trailer.) My only thought would be to keep the bike in an easy gear when you have all that extra weight. Avoid hills when you are towing the trailer.

Try to eat soon after any of the tougher or longer rides, preferably within 20-30 minutes. Get some carbs and a small amount of protein too. Try some post-ride stretching. I always stretch after I run but not always after I ride. But I do stretch after tough workouts and long rides.

Drink enough water throughout the day, although you don't need to force yourself to drink a set amount.

americancyclo
02-01-2012, 10:41 PM
I recommend a rest day, chocolate milk, and massages

Dirt
02-02-2012, 09:05 AM
Great thread. :D Lots of good thoughts so far. I'm also happy to see your enthusiasm for doing things by bicycle. :D You are my hero!

Listen to your body. If you're getting on the bike, feeling tired and that feeling isn't replaced with a bit of energy pretty quickly, then you likely need a rest day.

The two previous posters mentioned things that help you be ready for the next day's riding.

Recovery drink: Within 30 minutes of completing your ride, having some kind of recovery drink or food is a great idea. It really makes a huge difference. It gives your muscles what they need to re-energize for the next day. The best recovery drink that I've ever had is chocolate milk. I like ovaltine in 2% milk. Skim milk is okay too, but I found 2% works better for me. If I've done a really hard day in the saddle, I'll have 2 glasses. If it is something truly epic, I'll have 3.

Eat right: Having a meal that balances lean protein with some good veggies is a good idea for refueling for the next day. Try to avoid stuff that is too fatty, as it slows the absorption of the stuff that your muscles need. Same goes for alcohol, unfortunately. If you can hold off on the PRB (Post-Ride Beer) for 60-90 minutes, it will help the next day's ride.

Stretching is good. It makes a difference and helps promote flexible, supple muscles. It also gives you a chance to take inventory of what's going on with your body. I know that is sometimes hard to do with kids running around. When I was training and caring for a friend's kids, I made a game of the stretching and got them into the act too. They didn't really "get it", but it got them rolling around and goofing off in easily superviseable proximity, which gave me a chance to stretch.

Figuring out how much rest you need and when is sometimes difficult... even for those of us that have been riding hard for many decades. I use the first 5 minutes when I wake up in the morning to take inventory on how I'm doing. My second waking act is to take my resting pulse. It should be pretty close to the same every day. I slowly get my legs moving and see how they're feeling as I make my way to the cat food bowl and coffee maker. My legs are often really dogged at this point of the morning, but as I go through my routine, they ease up a bit. If they don't, I know it is a good sign that I need to take it easy that day.

The resting heart rate is a big deal. I had one of those "even those of us who have been at it for decades have trouble with this" moments last fall. After a series of really tough weekends I knew that I needed to relax and spend some easy weeks on the bike. I got tempted into doing a few hard rides with friends and kinda skipped the rest and recovery part of my season. One morning I woke up and my resting heart rate was elevated by 7 bpm (beats per minute). The next day it was 10. To make a long story short, it was a sign that I needed some rest... deep, serious rest. I didn't stop riding, but I cut way back and got rid of all riding with any intensity.

I know that answers a lot more than you were asking. I thought I'd just share some of what I've worked through.

Have a great week.

Pete

jrenaut
02-02-2012, 09:13 AM
I keep hearing the chocolate milk thing, so I'll try that. And stretching, too. My diet is pretty decent, though it could be better. I drink too much beer, but usually not for at least a couple hours after riding (Unless I'm riding to the bar). I'll ask the wife about massages, but I'm not optimistic.

I wish I could avoid hills with the trailer, but unfortunately my daughter's school is at the bottom of the big giant hill which my house sits atop. I take what seems to be the best combination of low traffic and not-horrible climb.

I've never paid any attention to heart rate. I guess I should start.

Anyway, thanks for all the advice. If I know this forum, and I think I do, the advice will continue to roll in, and then we all benefit.

WillStewart
02-02-2012, 09:18 AM
What Dirt said, especially the stretching.

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/runningworkouts/tp/BestCyclingStretches.htm

pfunkallstar
02-02-2012, 09:31 AM
I know I've plugged them before, but check out NMTI for cheap massages - like $35 for an hour of awesomeness. Also, there is nothing wrong with doing a little self-massage, which sounds kind of kinky but mostly involves getting a piece of PVC and running it down your legs, helps me.

Just to chime in on the virtues of chocolate milk, it is ambrosia! Although, unlike the Dirt, I prefer Carnation Chocolate Malt. Sometimes I'll throw a banana in the blender with some 2% and ice and get it all frothy. It is fantastic. Then cat.

Greenbelt
02-02-2012, 09:33 AM
I feel your pain this morning, jrenaut. First thing, the weather's been so incredible this winter that we're probably all putting more miles than usual. I know I am. It just seems like every day's a decent day and my bikes start to get all quivering with excitement and demanding to be ridden. They've been getting all pouty if I try to take a day off.

Then, last night I had my first flat of the whole winter. (Serves me right, those tires probably had roughly 4k miles on them, and my commute has lots of gravel and debris and rough pavement in spots -- it's tough on tires.)

But I couldn't find the source of the leak, so I just replaced the tube and hoped for the best. But after 5 miles or so on the way home, it started to go flat again. So decision -- no more spare tubes or tube repair kit, it's dark, and I'm about a mile from a Metro stop in either of two directions. So I decided to pump it up again and see if it would hold -- maybe I could limp closer to home or to Metro. Worked OK for a while, so I just kept heading home. After about 3 miles, flat again. Pumped it up again and made it 2 more miles. Pumped it up again and made another mile. Finally, got to within a couple miles from home and called for rescue.

But the bottom line was that after a long week and a big month for January, and then riding home most of the way on an average of maybe 15psi last night, this morning it was a.) way hard to get out of bed, and b.) a leg weary ride in! To top it off, my commute buddy was burning up the trail this morning.

Maybe we do need a blizzard or something just to get in a few recovery days!

dasgeh
02-02-2012, 09:49 AM
If you want to upgrade from the PVC pipe, massage sticks are AWESOME! http://www.amazon.com/Gill-Athletics-Original-Massage-Stick/dp/tags-on-product/B000YDO1NA (I think you can find it cheaper...)

And chocolate milk is amazing. I don't even like milk. I don't even like chocolate milk most of the time. But after a ride or hard workout, it's silky smoothness is heaven. Though if your kids see you drinking it, they'll want some.

Dirt
02-02-2012, 09:54 AM
I started back getting professional massages every other week. Deep tissue massage hurts like hell, but WOW does it get results. I call it "The Massage of Death", but it definitely gets the kinks out.

Tim Kelley
02-02-2012, 10:08 AM
Is this just something I need to push through and it will resolve itself, or are there things I should be doing to aid recovery?

As time goes on, your body and muscles will adapt and it won't be so hard on you. This may take awhile though, but yes, it does get easier.

I also wanted to throw in my recommendation for all your self massage needs: http://tptherapy.com/ Check out "The Grid"

jrenaut
02-02-2012, 02:31 PM
This seals it - I'm taking a few days off riding. I just did my 3.3 mile commute home, which includes one large hill, but is otherwise not terribly strenuous, and my legs are dead. I'm about to stretch then grab something to eat. I'll take Metro tomorrow (yuck), take it easy over the weekend, and be back ready to go on Monday.

CCrew
02-02-2012, 03:18 PM
This may take awhile though, but yes, it does get easier.


Have a buddy that's Cat2. His thought on that? "It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster" :)

Tim Kelley
02-02-2012, 03:21 PM
Have a buddy that's Cat2. His thought on that? "It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster" :)

Your buddy is Greg LeMond? He's generally attributed to saying that...

KLizotte
02-02-2012, 04:05 PM
It definitely sounds like you increased your mileage intensity too soon.

I recently picked up a copy of Bicycling Magazine's book on training and they say - if you've been off your bike all winter - that for the first 6-8 weeks of getting back into cycling you can only do light rides and very little interval training because your legs need to build up the requisite capillaries in the leg muscles to enable you to train harder later in the season. The capillaries are needed to bring oxygen to the muscles as more demands are placed on them (I wonder if that happens if we try to work our brains more).

The book also says most people get really frustrated by this base training period and try to do more but that ends up being counterproductive in the end. Please note that your cardio builds up much quicker than your legs. They also mention that one should do weight training to build up one's legs since cycling alone won't do it (oddly enough). Also there is the rule about not increasing your time (not mileage) by more than 10% a week else you will burn out.

If anything, I'm guessing pulling the trailer did it. That's a lot of dead weight and air resistance to overcome. You will build up the strength and endurance with time though so don't lose hope!

jpaulwhite
02-02-2012, 05:20 PM
Great thread. I am reading this one with great interest. Some days my legs are killing me. Other days they feel fine. I ride the same distance everyday.

CCrew
02-02-2012, 06:17 PM
Your buddy is Greg LeMond? He's generally attributed to saying that...

Naa, Hey, he just always tells me that, didn't know he ripped off the source :) I guess it's just like the "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" one...

StopMeansStop
02-02-2012, 06:58 PM
Ballston mall has the Asian massage place for a dollar a minute. I've hit them up after some long rides.

jrenaut
02-02-2012, 08:25 PM
I'm trying to think if I increased by more than 10% a week - it's hard to say, because I can't really quantify miles with the trailer vs miles without. But I've been doing about the same mileage for a few weeks, and it's only just now really getting to me.

No matter - I have a date to bake bread with my older daughter on Saturday, and an invitation to a Super Bowl party that will surely feature copious amounts of excellent beer on Sunday. I'll miss the bike, but I'll be back next week.

Riley Casey
02-02-2012, 10:33 PM
Well that's a good entre into a question Ive always been curious about. Can you characterize the difference between riding with a heavy load, say a child in a seat or heavily laden panniers and towing a trailer? Just curious. It's been a verrrry long time since I rode with a child seat but I do virtully all my grocery shopping by bike and a cargo trailer would be the next stage.


I'm trying to think if I increased by more than 10% a week - it's hard to say, because I can't really quantify miles with the trailer vs miles without. But I've been doing about the same mileage for a few weeks, and it's only just now really getting to me.
.

dasgeh
02-03-2012, 12:10 AM
Well that's a good entre into a question Ive always been curious about. Can you characterize the difference between riding with a heavy load, say a child in a seat or heavily laden panniers and towing a trailer? Just curious. It's been a verrrry long time since I rode with a child seat but I do virtully all my grocery shopping by bike and a cargo trailer would be the next stage.

I have a similar question. We do the front bike seat all the time and love it. In my head, trailers are _so much harder_. We're thinking when the family grows we'll go to a cargo bike (bakfiets-esque). I _really_ hope we do this family bike show and tell so we can compare...

DismalScientist
02-03-2012, 06:50 AM
Speaking as a father of three children, I find a child much more irritating than a load of groceries. :rolleyes:

americancyclo
02-03-2012, 07:29 AM
Does anyone use compression socks?

Arlingtonrider
02-03-2012, 07:42 AM
I don't usually give endorsements, but I want to put a good word in here for Nirvana Reflexology in Shirlington, an awesome new business that accepts walk ins when they can (appointments are highly recommended) and is easily accessible by bike. Many Shirlington locals have become addicted regulars at this place, which offers great one hour clothed full body reflexology treatments very similar to a sports massage for only $45. I highly recommend it! (It's best to wear loose fitting gym clothes.).

Dirt
02-03-2012, 08:40 AM
Does anyone use compression socks?
After really hard day rides I use compression socks and tights. Getting the fit right is very difficult. I suggest buying locally so that you can try them on before you buy. I got mine at Bonzai Sports in Falls Church. They were awesome in getting the right fit.

Compression socks and tights made a big difference for me when I was doing really long rides (6 hours or longer). My legs were still tired the next morning, but they revived much quicker when I got back on the bike and I had much less soreness. One weekend last fall, in particular, would not have been possible had I not used compression tights. Saturday I rode Seagull Century on a fixie. 20 minutes after finishing, I had compression socks and tights on. I wore them most of the night. I was on the bike again at 4am Sunday morning to do a 140 mile mountain bike ride in Montgomery County. I won't say that my legs felt great when I started out, but they were not sore... they just felt a bit sluggish and tired for the first few hours. By mid-morning they were feeling good and I finished out the day strong.

Certainly it was a combination of things that let me do this ride... training, diet, hydration and use of compression tights/socks.

Hope that helps a little.

Pete

Subby
02-03-2012, 08:59 AM
Saturday I rode Seagull Century on a fixie. ... I was on the bike again at 4am Sunday morning to do a 140 mile mountain bike ride in Montgomery County...By mid-morning they were feeling good and I finished out the day strong.
Awesome.

jrenaut
02-03-2012, 09:08 AM
Well that's a good entre into a question Ive always been curious about. Can you characterize the difference between riding with a heavy load, say a child in a seat or heavily laden panniers and towing a trailer? Just curious. It's been a verrrry long time since I rode with a child seat but I do virtully all my grocery shopping by bike and a cargo trailer would be the next stage.
I can't compare the trailer to a child seat or panniers because I've never ridden with either. I can say that the trailer is a little tough to get moving sometimes, but once it's rolling it's not as much of a load as I expected. The first ten feet from a stop it often weighs a ton.

I had a very pleasant ride in via public transportation. I took my daughter to school on a bus, then caught another bus down to Farragut and got on the orange/blue line. Didn't wait even a minute total, and nothing was crowded. My legs still don't feel great, so I'm pretty confident that an easy weekend is the right decision.

Tim Kelley
02-03-2012, 09:09 AM
Well that's a good entre into a question Ive always been curious about. Can you characterize the difference between riding with a heavy load, say a child in a seat or heavily laden panniers and towing a trailer? Just curious. It's been a verrrry long time since I rode with a child seat but I do virtully all my grocery shopping by bike and a cargo trailer would be the next stage.


I can speak to this a bit. I have a rear rack that holds a baby seat (http://www.topeak.com/products/Child-Carrier/babyseat_wdiscrack?WYSESSID=voqdpjdlrgkv0abkl18oc3 37t6) that can easily be switched out for a tote (http://www.topeak.com/products/baskets/TrolleyTote) for grocery shopping or hauling. Between a backpack and the tote I can usually carry about $100 worth of groceries--although not if it includes too many beverages or bulky items like paper towels. I also have a stroller/trailer (http://www.chariotcarriers.com/english/html/cougar.php) that I use for longer rides. I don't have panniers.

With the baby in the child seat, the weight is pretty high up, but it is centered (which I would expect is one downside to using just one pannier). With the high center of gravity, it feels like going around corners needs to be taken a bit slower. If the baby moves around a lot you can definitely feel something going on behind you.

Using the tote, the weight is centered and a little lower. I feel like I can corner a bit better than with the baby on the bike, but I generally don't take turns too fast since I don't want to break the eggs or send the apples flying.

With the trailer you don't feel the extra weight acting on the bike as much as you feel your legs doing the extra work. It's like you're in a much harder gear. On the flats, once you're up to cruising speed it rolls pretty well, but going downhill where you'd expect to go a little faster due to the extra weight, the added rolling resistance and drag negates much of that.

Going uphill is a much different story. When you're pulling a trailer, getting out of the saddle doesn't work as well because even though you're standing and producing more power, it is much less smooth and the trailer bucks forward and back giving a strange sensation like someone is pushing on the back wheel. The best way to get up steep hills is to drop into an easier gear and spin your way up.

I generally ride with the baby seat on the commuter bike 90% of the time because I do daycare drop off and pickup by bike. It works pretty well if I need to pick up something on the way home because a backpack or case of beer roughly the size of small child straps in easily. Lately I've been using the trailer on the carbon race bike when I've got baby duty and want to go out for a ride. The last serious ride I did with it was a few weeks ago, when Contes/Freshbikes was doing a small group version of one of their hill rides.

Keep in mind that I'm right around the Clydesdale weight division, so a child or load is a much smaller percentage of my overall weight than someone smaller.

Dirt
02-03-2012, 09:10 AM
Awesome.
Thanks. It was part of a series of rides that I did between mid September and mid October. I trained all year for that month of riding and was very happy in how they all turned out.

The stuff discussed in this thread has a lot to do with being able to complete long rides successfully for 5 weeks in a row.

One other thing that I used on these endurance rides was salt supplements. It is important to replace electrolytes and salts that you sweat out. As I get older, I've found that I'm not able to do that well with just what I'm eating and drinking during a ride. I started using a product called Salt Sticks during long rides. They helped me a lot.

Tim Kelley
02-03-2012, 09:19 AM
Does anyone use compression socks?

I've got various pairs of compression socks, calf sleeves, compression shorts, and compression tights. I don't think they help too much with actual recovery other than the placebo effect and I think the placebo effect is very effective! I wear them because they generally just feel good.

After some crazy hard workouts, proper nutrition, rest, and time are the only things I've found to help with recovery. When riding/exercising with sore muscles, a nice easy warm up is essential.

vvill
02-03-2012, 09:41 AM
My experience with a trailer (containing a 3 y.o.) is that it's harder to get started, harder on hills, and yes definitely difficult to stand up and pedal in without getting strange back and forth feedback, as Tim mentioned.

I attach mine either to my hybrid (flat bar with 700x32c) or 26" MTB.

I have some sort of drugstore compression socks that are made for long flights. I've tried them for recovery (most recently after a jaunt to Purcellville and back), but I haven't been riding long enough to tell if they make that much difference. It's not really my calves that feel tired after a long ride anyway.

jpaulwhite
02-03-2012, 09:42 AM
OK. Felt a lil worse than normal after the ride in this morning. Drank a bottle of chocolate milk. I'll see how the ride home goes tonight. When I wake up in the morning I can tell if my legs feel normal and they felt a lil sore but not too bad. I have been off the bike since Oct and just started back in January so I still have a few more weeks to go before I'm back up to speed.

The first week I rode 3 days, 2nd week I rode 3, after that I rode 4, and this week I rode 5. I always take the weekends off too. We'll see how I feel the week after next. I think I'll do the chocolate milk thing in the evenings and see if that helps.

I might try the deep tissue massage thing at Ballston too, but I'll have to do that on my lunch breaks. Probably do it one time during the week, most likely on a day when my legs are killing me.

jrenaut
02-03-2012, 09:42 AM
Yeah, what Tim said. His description of riding with a trailer is very much like my experience, but he did a much better job describing it.

My one difference is climbing - it doesn't feel nearly as jerky to me as he describes. But a coworker of mine said it IS jerky when he climbs with his trailer. So I guess it's just me. I must be awesome at smoothly climbing with a trailer.

Tim Kelley
02-03-2012, 10:01 AM
Yeah, what Tim said. His description of riding with a trailer is very much like my experience, but he did a much better job describing it.

My one difference is climbing - it doesn't feel nearly as jerky to me as he describes. But a coworker of mine said it IS jerky when he climbs with his trailer. So I guess it's just me. I must be awesome at smoothly climbing with a trailer.

Are you standing up out of the saddle when you're climbing? Like most everyone when I stand, my downstroke (2 o'clock to 6 o'clock) is so much stronger than the rest of the pedal stroke that I get the jerkiness. Granted, I noticed this pushing 900 watts trying to keep up with the front of the Conte's ride...

The other thought that occured to me is how the trailer is attached to the bike. Here's mine (quickly sourced from Google Images), which might allow for some give in the connection:

697 699 698

eminva
02-03-2012, 10:09 AM
a tote (http://www.topeak.com/products/baskets/TrolleyTote) for grocery shopping or hauling.

Why, Tim Kelley, did you need to mention another item that has now been added to my lengthy bicycle gear wish list?

Inspired by this thread, I took the day off today and gave the Orange Line my business. I'm not very scientific, but if I feel a little tired in the morning, I RUN up the steps from the basement to the main level. If I have to pause at the top of the steps lest my legs collapse under me, I know it's time to take a day off.

Liz

jrenaut
02-03-2012, 10:11 AM
700
This is my connection.

On the big hill on my way home from my daughter's school, I start off sitting and stand when I lose momentum. Where that happens depends on a lot of factors, but I've never tried the whole hill sitting.

Tim Kelley
02-03-2012, 10:15 AM
Why, Tim Kelley, did you need to mention another item that has now been added to my lengthy bicycle gear wish list?

It's pretty cool--I just take it off, roll it around through the grocery store and when it's full I know it's time to go home! The contents of one of the hand baskets fits into my backpack pretty easily.



700
This is my connection.

On the big hill on my way home from my daughter's school, I start off sitting and stand when I lose momentum. Where that happens depends on a lot of factors, but I've never tried the whole hill sitting.

Yeah, looks like you have a bolt that goes right through it keeping it a little more secure. That's a minor, but very interesting, difference in trailers!

Greenbelt
02-04-2012, 10:33 AM
Today's one of those days when it's hard to NOT listen to the bikes. The wind is calm, the temp isn't terrible, and they want to go out to play! Or at least to take me on errands.

But this is what my legs want:
707

americancyclo
02-06-2012, 09:42 AM
I was thinking about this thread this weekend. I had some soreness in my back that moved to my kidneys over the weekend. I was totally drained of energy, took it really slow on friday, and didn't ride at all over the weekend. I'm feeling pretty good now, but took metro today, just to be safe. The Lady blames overexertion and lack of hydration. I could be convinced to agree with that. In any case, I hope you're feeling better this week, and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow.

jrenaut
02-06-2012, 09:57 AM
I feel much better today, thanks. Aside from perhaps drinking more DC Brau than I should have last night. Hope you're better tomorrow.

pfunkallstar
02-06-2012, 11:19 AM
I was thinking about this thread this weekend. I had some soreness in my back that moved to my kidneys over the weekend. I was totally drained of energy, took it really slow on friday, and didn't ride at all over the weekend. I'm feeling pretty good now, but took metro today, just to be safe. The Lady blames overexertion and lack of hydration. I could be convinced to agree with that. In any case, I hope you're feeling better this week, and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow.

Ditto on feeling drained today, maybe I should have taken the day off - oh well too late! Was definitely chugging this morning and couldn't put my finger on why. I took two days off this weekend and didn't over indulge last night - so it is mystery to me. Hopefully it'll work itself out over the week.

sethpo
05-20-2014, 11:16 AM
Read through this great thread that I came across looking for specific nutrition and diet information from the high-miles commuting folks.

As the weather has turned from vortex to pollen, I've upped my weekly miles and am on track for a record month in May. The legs generally feel good and are responding well but I'm finding it difficult to get enough food during the day so my evening commutes home have been dragging and then I get home starving and end up eating too much at night. So, a few questions:

-- This is a legit thing, right? I'm not just using the extra miles as an excuse to eat more food. I mean, I would think that more calories out means more fuel needed coming in. Logic and all.

-- Do you have tricks for eating enough during the day? My standard two yogurt cups w/ granola in the morning (10am) and lunch (1-2pm) and small afternoon snack just don't seem to be getting it done and leave me hungry for my 5:30-6pm commute home (19 miles). Protein powder during the day? Should I just start bring in a big thing of pasta? Any other ideas?

Thanks.

americancyclo
05-20-2014, 11:21 AM
I started making skratch labs rice bars last summer to supplement my usual food routine. Only real problem I face is that I have less room for clothes in my backpack

ebubar
05-20-2014, 11:36 AM
I do from 15-18 miles back and forth (30-36 roundtrip miles). My food plan: morning - cup of yogurt and perhaps a piece of toast and a couple sips of juice. Drink about half a bottle of water on the ride in. Snack once I get to the office (maybe a power bar, string cheese or handful of trailmix) and a bowl of Cheerios with a full bottle of water. For lunch I have a PBJ sandwich and munch on more trail mix (I like the Trader Joes sweet and salty mix with raisins, peanuts and m&m's). Then I have an afternoon snack of two apples around 1 or 2 hours before heading home. I make sure to drink water throughout the day as well. Get home and immediately down a couple of tall glasses of milk. Then a sensible dinner and maybe a small sweet treat for dessert. That seems to work for my roughly 30 mile roundtrip commute.

I'd love to hear other people's food routines too! I'm starting to try and pay more attention to what I'm munching on in an effort to lose some bit of belly fat (#DTSScoffeeclub excepted).


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Terpfan
05-20-2014, 11:38 AM
Read through this great thread that I came across looking for specific nutrition and diet information from the high-miles commuting folks.

As the weather has turned from vortex to pollen, I've upped my weekly miles and am on track for a record month in May. The legs generally feel good and are responding well but I'm finding it difficult to get enough food during the day so my evening commutes home have been dragging and then I get home starving and end up eating too much at night. So, a few questions:

-- This is a legit thing, right? I'm not just using the extra miles as an excuse to eat more food. I mean, I would think that more calories out means more fuel needed coming in. Logic and all.

-- Do you have tricks for eating enough during the day? My standard two yogurt cups w/ granola in the morning (10am) and lunch (1-2pm) and small afternoon snack just don't seem to be getting it done and leave me hungry for my 5:30-6pm commute home (19 miles). Protein powder during the day? Should I just start bring in a big thing of pasta? Any other ideas?

Thanks.

Sounds like you're healthy to me. I have a similar commute (17-18 miles with fun climbing), but I eat horribly. By horribly I mean if I go to Whole Foods, I somehow leave with pizza or stromboli or a sandwich each time despite that great salad bar. By my wife's estimation, I could have lost much more weight than I have cycling if I would remotely approach a sane diet. Yet that's what I consider the beauty of the tradeoff.

Subby
05-20-2014, 11:38 AM
-- Do you have tricks for eating enough during the day? My standard two yogurt cups w/ granola in the morning (10am) and lunch (1-2pm) and small afternoon snack just don't seem to be getting it done and leave me hungry for my 5:30-6pm commute home (19 miles). Protein powder during the day? Should I just start bring in a big thing of pasta? Any other ideas?

Thanks.
That sounds like a decent amount of sugar. I would try to replace as much sugar as I could with good fats and protein. Almond butter and celery, whole natural almonds, hardboiled eggs, etc..

consularrider
05-20-2014, 11:43 AM
I think you need to follow the Hobbit meal plan (http://askmiddlearth.tumblr.com/post/41765286488/the-seven-daily-hobbit-meals).

sethpo
05-20-2014, 11:56 AM
That sounds like a decent amount of sugar. I would try to replace as much sugar as I could with good fats and protein. Almond butter and celery, whole natural almonds, hardboiled eggs, etc..

Yeah, I left out all the junk food I end up eating in the evenings. Cookies. Ice cream. Candy. Lots of crap basically.

I know I need to cut that out but I'm always so damn hungry in the evenings (plus I like my junk food and am not trying to lose weight ATM). I guess I just need to suck it up and think more about what I pack and/or go out and eat for lunch. More + healthier.

Subby
05-20-2014, 11:58 AM
Yeah I am not even talking about losing weight. I eat a fucton of sugar in the evenings too. Just when I am at work, the more sugar I eat, the hungrier I seem to get and the more lethargic I seem to be on my rides home. If I eat a serving of almonds at 430pm, I am usually cranking home pretty well.

Sleep has a huge effect, too. Probably a whole other thread.

Please note that I am good at suggesting things, less good at doing them.

Amalitza
05-20-2014, 11:58 AM
I keep oatmeal and/or peanut butter and bread at my desk in addition to whatever I bring for lunch. At least as important as what to me is when. For me personally, I need to eat something within about an hour of a ride so as not to be starving by the end of it, so a 5:30 commute would mean a snack of say a slice of bread w/ peanut butter between 4:30 and 5.

dkel
05-20-2014, 12:02 PM
That sounds like a decent amount of sugar. I would try to replace as much sugar as I could with good fats and protein. Almond butter and celery, whole natural almonds, hardboiled eggs, etc..

A while back I tried eating lots of protein and cutting down the carbs, and ended up completely zonked on my commute. When I added back in some carbs, I had much more energy for the ride. Balance is pretty important! Feeling tired while riding is the pits, and I'm not going back to that. I feel like I'm pretty haphazard about the nutrition thing, but I aim for things like trail mix and yogurt rather than slamming a bunch of chips and Oreos (even though chips and Oreos are my favorites...and donuts!).

dkel
05-20-2014, 12:05 PM
fucton

Heh!

NicDiesel
05-20-2014, 12:10 PM
Yeah, I left out all the junk food I end up eating in the evenings. Cookies. Ice cream. Candy. Lots of crap basically.

I know I need to cut that out but I'm always so damn hungry in the evenings (plus I like my junk food and am not trying to lose weight ATM). I guess I just need to suck it up and think more about what I pack and/or go out and eat for lunch. More + healthier.

I've put weight back on this past winter due to injury so I'm back up to 380lbs and am slowly ramping back up to 100 miles a week. I go through what you're going through every time I bike more than 12 miles at a time without drinking plenty of water and taking in at least 400 calories during the ride. I like apple cinnamon gels and try to eat one (~90 calories, all sugar) for every five miles I ride. When I get home from a really long ride I usually try to have another gel before I start cooking dinner so I'm not below empty when dinner is done and binge out on dinner and ice cream and chips and other crap.

One thing that I've found to be really helpful is that if I increase the amount of protein I take in at least three hours prior to riding (I work from home and ride at night) and have a solid dinner (complex carbs, high protein) after my ride I usually don't binge out. Keeping your body fueled with protein and fiber, at least in my experience, keeps the late night binges under control.

americancyclo
05-20-2014, 12:42 PM
That sounds like a decent amount of sugar. I would try to replace as much sugar as I could with good fats and protein. Almond butter and celery, whole natural almonds, hardboiled eggs, etc. the more sugar I eat, the hungrier I seem to get and the more lethargic I seem to be on my rides home.

I keep oatmeal and/or peanut butter and bread at my desk in addition to whatever I bring for lunch. At least as important as what to me is when. For me personally, I need to eat something within about an hour of a ride so as not to be starving by the end of it, so a 5:30 commute would mean a snack of say a slice of bread w/ peanut butter between 4:30 and 5.

A while back I tried eating lots of protein and cutting down the carbs, and ended up completely zonked on my commute. When I added back in some carbs, I had much more energy for the ride. Balance is pretty important! Feeling tired while riding is the pits, and I'm not going back to that. I feel like I'm pretty haphazard about the nutrition thing, but I aim for things like trail mix and yogurt rather than slamming a bunch of chips and Oreos (even though chips and Oreos are my favorites...and donuts!).
This is the third week of our new low-carb lifestyle. We haven't bought any more bread, and only cooked rice once, when it used to be at least 3x a week.
Lots more cheese, avocado, organ meats and leafy greens. I try to eat more on ride days, and allow myself larger carb intake, but on the rest days, I try to keep to under 100g of carbs, which can be a challenge when you're used to eating cookies and croissants all day.

It's working out reasonably well so far, and my collared shirts aren't as tight around the neck as they used to be.

Fridays coffee clubs are still fair game for carbs though.

vern
05-20-2014, 12:49 PM
It was only this month that I started doing a complete back-and-forth commute each day (42.8 miles). Two weeks ago, in the middle of the afternoon, my right calf started cramping while I was sitting at my desk. That woke me up to the fact that I need to add more potassium, calcium and magnesium to my diet. In response I've added a cal/mag supplement, and am eating bananas and kale/spinach for potassium. So far, so good.

dasgeh
05-20-2014, 01:10 PM
There's been a lot of focus on research saying, basically, that not all calories are the same. Sugar is less helpful at getting usable energy to your body than fat. And fats are different too (plant v. animal v. processed). Personally, I feel best when I follow Michael Pollen's general guideline of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It's not perfect, but when I have a choice between X and Y, I try to go with the one closest to what came out of the ground. It helps that both me and the Mr. love to cook.

We do steel cut oats or eggs over salad for breakfast most days. Snacks at my desk are nuts, dried fruit or yogurt (gotta love Trader Joe's). Lunch is leftovers from dinner. Dinner is plant-based but not strickly vegetarian -- last night it was this delicious Forbidden Rice dish (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/forbidden-rice-break-the-rules-and-enjoy-what-was-once-limited-to-royalty/2014/03/03/c4c20c30-a0a7-11e3-9ba6-800d1192d08b_story.html). I love me something sweet at the end of the day, but I usually am content with bread with almond butter (or normal butter) and honey, yogurt and honey (or those corner yogurt things), or fruit. Except for the days when I'm only content with ice cream :-).

I'm not a model of svelte, but I feel so much better -- more awake during the days, faster on the bike, more able to keep up with the kids -- when I eat well, that's priority #1

ShawnoftheDread
05-20-2014, 02:01 PM
I'm at Five Guys right now. Not sure what I'll do for second lunch.

KLizotte
05-20-2014, 09:37 PM
-- Do you have tricks for eating enough during the day? My standard two yogurt cups w/ granola in the morning (10am) and lunch (1-2pm) and small afternoon snack just don't seem to be getting it done and leave me hungry for my 5:30-6pm commute home (19 miles). Protein powder during the day? Should I just start bring in a big thing of pasta? Any other ideas?

Hahaha. I'd be hungry even *without* biking if that is all I ate before dinner.

Some suggestions for late afternoon snacks:

Apples with natural peanut butter (not that Skippy stuff)
Fill a pita pocket with hummus and veggies
A handful of nuts (e.g., roasted almonds) and some fruit (e.g., banana)
Bowl of cereal or oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit or nuts (muesli is very filling)
A veggie salad with egg, nuts, cheese, fruit, etc.
Kind brand granola bar(s)
Soup or chili
Pita or tortilla chips with salsa, avocado, and beans or tabbouleh
Whole grain crackers with cheese
Roasted pumpkin seeds (high in protein, zinc and magnesium)

Plenty more ideas here:

http://www.pinterest.com/ccasali/healthy-easy-lunches-snacks-for-work/

Try to eat an hour before you ride so your body has time to break it down into energy.

vern
05-20-2014, 10:08 PM
Hahaha. I'd be hungry even *without* biking if that is all I ate before dinner.

Some suggestions for late afternoon snacks:

Apples with natural peanut butter (not that Skippy stuff)
Fill a pita pocket with hummus and veggies
A handful of nuts (e.g., roasted almonds) and some fruit (e.g., banana)
Bowl of cereal or oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit or nuts (muesli is very filling)
A veggie salad with egg, nuts, cheese, fruit, etc.
Kind brand granola bar(s)
Soup or chili
Pita or tortilla chips with salsa, avocado, and beans or tabbouleh
Whole grain crackers with cheese
Roasted pumpkin seeds (high in protein, zinc and magnesium)

Plenty more ideas here:

http://www.pinterest.com/ccasali/healthy-easy-lunches-snacks-for-work/

Try to eat an hour before you ride so your body has time to break it down into energy.


Haha...you pretty much described about half of my diet. I just packed my food for tomorrow...rolled oats, walnuts and dried cherries (for the oatmeal), OJ, milk, hummus and tabbouleh with pita and falafel, various raw veggies, apple, banana, bag of nuts for an afternoon snack.

dkel
05-20-2014, 10:09 PM
A handful of nuts

Yep. That pretty much sums up this whole forum.

PotomacCyclist
05-20-2014, 10:35 PM
I try to follow general guidelines instead of counting calories. I tried counting calories for one week, about a decade ago. It was educational but definitely too aggravating to do on a regular basis. [I didn't read through the entire thread to see if I posted this already.]

REGULAR NUTRITION (separate from pre/mid/post-ride nutrition):

- Whenever I eat anything, I try to include at least some protein and fiber. That will keep you feeling fuller than if you only ate refined sugar (which is not recommended in most situations).

- I drink water, not soda or fruit juice (which is almost as bad as soda is).

- I include unsaturated fats: nuts, olive oil, avocados (but not as much coldwater fish as I should have).

- For carbs, mostly complex carbs, not refined sugars.

There's a lot of press about low-carb diets these days. It works for some, but maybe not as much for others. One comment I heard makes sense to me. Eat a balanced diet: lean protein, plenty of green vegetables and some other vegetables and fruit, fiber, fats (mostly unsaturated), water. Then for carbs, stick primarily to complex carbs (whole grains), not simple carbs (refined sugar, soda, white bread, pastries, pasta unless it's whole grain). But for carbs, inactive people should probably eat a bit less carbs while an active person could eat a bit more.

***
You may also hear about being "fat-adapted". This means that your body tends to rely on body fat for low and moderate-intensity activity, while a sugar-preferring person would burn more carbs. If you eat a lot of refined sugars, you are training your body to rely on those sugars for much of your energy. If you don't burn all of the sugar, your body will convert it to body fat. (If you are at rest, then most or all of the sugar you eat will be converted to body fat, unless you have protein and fiber at the same meal. This is why one of the worst things you can do is to eat refined sugars by itself, on an empty stomach, while at rest.)

If you don't eat as much refined sugar (and what you do eat is part of a balanced meal that include protein and fiber) and if you start building a strong aerobic endurance base without taking in a ton of gels or Gatorade, your body will start to become fat-adapted. It will start to rely on burning body fat for low-intensity workouts. This is why a sugar-based beginner can barely make it through 45 or 60 minutes without eating. They aren't fit so they start burning glycogen (carbs stored in the muscles and liver) almost immediately; they don't have as much glycogen reserves; they aren't fat-adapted so they use up all the glycogen quickly.

For an experienced athlete who is fat-adapted, low-intensity exercise (such as easy bike rides) does not put a demand on glycogen. You will still be burning a small amount of glycogen, but for low-intensity activity, these athletes will be using primarily body fat as fuel. Every healthy adult has thousands (or is it tens of thousands?) of calories of body fat available for this low-intensity activity. They can do 2-hr. easy rides without eating anything and without feeling groggy. (They will still burn glycogen at higher intensities. But because of their training, they can ride faster than a beginner when riding at low intensity.)

***
I've read differing opinions about whether you need to eat breakfast. Sometimes I will go for a run or swim in the morning before eating. (However, I may not do that going forward, after experiencing a metabolic crash twice this past winter after training too hard and not eating enough. The last time it happened, I really had to take an entire month off from serious training, because everything got so fouled up. It wasn't an injury. It was an overtraining and nutrition problem.)

When I don't do anything strenuous, I find that if I wait for hours before eating, the first meal of the day seems to overload my system and make me very sleepy. So I try to eat something within an hour or two after waking up.

SPORTS NUTRITION

For longer rides, I try to have something to eat before. ("Long" is defined by the rider's experience and fitness. One hour might be long for a beginner, but an advanced athlete might not think a 2-hr ride is long.) It also depends on the intensity and how much of an iron stomach you have. For easy rides, I can tolerate more food than otherwise, as long as it isn't greasy or spicy or too sugary. For shorter intense rides or races (especially with running), I have to be more careful about how much I eat, and how soon before the ride or race. It's an ongoing experiment. I can still eat a little more and sooner before bike rides than I can with running, because running jostles the stomach.

During rides? Because I'm taking a moderate approach to being aerobically fit ("fat-adapted"?), I try not to eat anything during medium-length rides or runs these days. When I first started out, I could feel my muscles burning after just 60-90 minutes, because I was burning through all the glycogen, and I might have been eating a more inflammatory diet overall (one that includes more sugar). But now I never feel that burning on moderate rides. I think I might stick to a 90-min. rule, but I'm not saying that everyone should follow the same rule: For rides about 90-min. or shorter, I won't eat anything. I might bring some water but not always. For longer rides, I'll bring some calories and see how I feel. If I'm going to do a longer ride with some intensity, it's probably a better idea to have some mid-ride calories, but being sure not to upset my stomach by piling in too much.

Eat soon after longer or tougher rides, as mentioned earlier in the thread. Being fat-adapted helps with aerobic endurance, but there is also such a thing as taking it too far. (That's what I did over the winter, twice.) If you get started with restoring glycogen supplies, then you might not feel as hungry later on. When I first started to do long runs five years ago, I would get incredibly ravenous. I would come back home and eat everything in sight. I wouldn't stop eating for about an hour. That's because I wasn't as fit and I was low on glycogen. It could also be psychological. My body was not used to being glycogen-depleted so it interpreted that as starvation mode. That's why it cranked up the hunger signals.

It's much different now. I still have a moderate-sized meal soon after long rides or runs, but I don't feel like the Tazmanian Devil in search of food. I eat what I should and then I feel OK. I don't have that ravenous hunger any more. (Maybe I'm no longer a vampire?)

I think it's part training, part diet, part experience and part psychological.

***
Another general rule I have is that I try to eat "clean" most of the time, but not ALL of the time. If I eat healthy about 85-90 percent of the time, then I should be fine (as a non-professional athlete). I don't get worked up about a small dessert if the rest of the meal is healthy. If I eat healthy at home, then I don't have to be as worried about being perfect at social occasions.

Kind of like the "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" comments in another thread. Some people give up on healthy eating because they aren't perfect about it. So for them, it's all or nothing. When I talk or chat about nutrition, someone will always bring up the silly comment that "you can't eat healthy on a budget because organic vegetables at Whole Foods are so expensive!" Well, then don't eat just organic vegetables from Whole Foods. Because they say those vegetables are too expensive, they will turn to potato chips and soda? It shouldn't be that way. Eat healthy most of the time but let yourself have a small amount of indulgences too. As long as those indulgences don't end up becoming the majority of your diet.

Granola bars are not perfect and they do contain some added sugar. But some bars have a modest amount of (plant) protein and fiber, which helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar. So it's not quite the same thing as drinking a sugary soda by itself, on an empty stomach, while at rest. The bars are convenient to carry to work. While not perfect, they are better than what I see a lot of people eating/drinking in afternoons: large slices of chocolate cake, bags of potato chips, entire bags of Skittles, large sodas. I usually have a granola bar in the mid-afternoon, with water. (I do this partly because this seems to keep my stomach settled. I have a touchy stomach. Sometimes vegetables by themselves also cause issues, so I eat them as part of a balanced meal.)

PotomacCyclist
05-20-2014, 10:36 PM
Yep. That pretty much sums up this whole forum.

Some of us are more like chickens or fruits or cabbages.

vvill
05-20-2014, 11:02 PM
A few months ago I was really interested in the fat-adapted athlete thing because I've often had issues fueling on longer rides. There's a number of ultra-endurance guys who can make it a long way without eating, and survive on preloading (fat I assume) the night before (as far as I recall). There's a book about it but I haven't read it.

That said, I definitely do not have the discipline to follow anything too stringent: mostly I eat what I like, but I'm fortunate I don't have a sweet tooth. I generally prefer savoury foods, and have (sometimes deleteriously) low blood pressure to begin with so salty stuff suits me just fine.

In terms of over a regular day (with bike commuting) I don't always eat breakfast (or if I do, it's not always a lot). But I usually snack around 10am regardless - I keep a supply of salted nuts in my cube at work for that (almonds, pistachios and cashews are my favourites, though I usually just go buy whatever's on sale at CVS). I also eat large lunches, and they tend to be the biggest meal of my day. I buy lunch usually so I try to maximize what I get for my $ - typically something like a burrito, bibimbap, a big salad, pizza, etc. Most portion sizes around these parts are more than decent though really. It actually got to the point where I would be un-hungry enough at dinner time that my wife got annoyed (understandably, since she usually makes dinners). The only issue is I tend to crash shortly after lunch, but I'm an advocate of power naps too, so it's okay...

On weekends I like big breakfastses since they're later in the day and I can take the time to make eggs, etc.

I do drink a lot of water, and generally don't imbibe anything sugary (the exception being high pulp OJ at some breakfastses, and recovery chocolate milk). I take coffee/tea black, and soda is a rare treat (I often add lots of ice for it to taste okay).

vern
05-21-2014, 12:01 PM
The primary way I recover between legs of my commute is to do what I just did...I just finished sitting in the spa pool at the Sport & Health Club in my building. My legs felt sore and tired prior to the soak, but just 5 minutes in the pool revived them. I do that everyday at midday and it never fails to work.

Emm
05-21-2014, 01:45 PM
Protein (generally greek yogurt) and a banana are my go-tos when I am sore and tired. About a month ago after an especially mean commute into work (20+ mph winds against me the entire hilly 10 mile ride, while hauling 30 lbs on my panniers on what may be the LEAST aerodynamic bike ever), my legs cramped...for 4 days. I took the next day off biking, but even so, I was in pain for a week. My sports-trainer friend told me I needed to eat protein a banana within 30 minutes of every shorter ride, and also do the same during any longer rides. I was also told to avoid carbs for 60-90 min after a ride.

2 weeks ago the same mean commute happened. And a greek yogurt and a banana later I was angry at the world and a little tired...but no cramping and not nearly as tired as I'd been. I'm sure some of it is also that I'm building muscle and getting stronger, but still. The food made an immediate impact on my morning and evening soreness.

I also found just upping my veggie servings and cutting carbs in my diet overall (e.g. less rice, more green beans at dinner) gives me more energy, and I sleep better. Switching to homemade bread from store bought bread also caused a pretty quick weight loss for me, so I'd recommend that to anyone who loves bread, but also wants to lose weight and eat healthier. Bread is way easier to make than most people assume.

(note: this is all being written by a woman eating McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries for lunch because the Nats scored 6 runs...and I'm cheap and wanted my free chicken nuggets)

consularrider
05-21-2014, 01:57 PM
(note: this is all being written by a woman eating McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries for lunch because the Nats scored 6 runs...and I'm cheap and wanted my free chicken nuggets)
But they tore down the Rosslyn McDonalds. :(

sethpo
05-21-2014, 02:23 PM
Wow, some of you are WAY better at the "eating healthy" thing than me! Congrats to you (no snark).

I think what I'm going to try is some nuts and peanut butter at my desk for a 4-5pm snack before riding home. I'm sure I'd benefit from a more comprehensive overall of my fuel intake but I really don't like to think that much about it during the work day.

Thanks, all. I knew this group would have lots of good input on my inputs.

rcannon100
05-21-2014, 02:46 PM
Some of us are more like chickens or fruits or cabbages.

Shrek: Cyclists are like onions.

Donkey: They have layers?

Shrek: Yes... No!

Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?

Shrek: No!

Donkey: Oh, you leave 'em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin' little white hairs...

Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Cyclists stink. Ogres stink; Cyclists stink. You get it? We both stink.

n18
05-21-2014, 04:46 PM
I had very good results from taking Natural Eggshell Membrane(NEM) supplements. It helps rebuild the joints and the connective tissue surrounding them; slowly. Other supplements are generally pain killers, they bring temporary pain relieve, which makes you abuse your joints even more, and unlike NEM, they have side effects.

I have been biking for about a year, and before that, I was walking 5 to 10 Miles per day. Prior to biking, when walking, I would wait for right turn traffic to go away before walking because my joints and feet hurt a bit when I run to avoid right turn traffic. After taking the supplement for 5 days, I felt noticeable improvement as I could run as usual like younger people(I am 42 now). It was noticeable improvement, and not just something in my head. Reviews in Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Membrell-JOINTHealth-Eggshell-Membrane-Capsules/dp/B000GWE40O) show several people who threw their cane away after taking this supplement. You can find it at Vitamin Shoppe (http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/p/genuine-health-fast-joint-care-nem-30-capsules/9g-1007) for about $22 to $25.

After biking however, I don't notice any changes, because I use my bike a lot(10 to 30 Miles per day), so any joint rebuilding is offset by the heavy biking. So if I start taking this now, I would say it doesn't work, but I know it works because I have taken it prior to my biking days. If you only bike or jug during the weekend, and you started taking this supplement on a Monday, then by Friday or Saturday you should feel that you could do more, but if you exercise to exhaustion, then maybe the only way to tell the difference is if your Strava or MapMyRide data shows more mileage.

Clinical study results:


Flexibility: 27.8% increase after 7 days, 43.7% increase after 30 days
General pain: 72.5% reduction after 30 days
Range of motion-associated pain: 75.9% reduction after 30 days

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2697588/

PotomacCyclist
05-21-2014, 05:22 PM
I had a lot of injuries in my first year of running as an adult (back in 2008-2009). I ramped up the miles far too quickly. I also had some weakness and imbalances in the hips and quads. The neutral cushioned shoes may have contributed. (Thick-soled running shoes still feel like unstable stilts to me. I don't run completely minimalist, but close.)

When I had a really bad case of runner's knee (kneecap misalignment during the running motion), I tried chondroitin/glucosamine supplements. I didn't find that they did anything at all. My problem was that the hip/quad imbalance or weakness was letting my kneecap drift to the side when I bent my knee. Just enough so that it was scraping against the cartilage of the groove, which the kneecap travels through. Normally the kneecap slides between the two protuberances on the top of the tibia. In my case, it was grinding into the side and irritating the cartilage. (I had never had such knee problems before in my life.) At first, I just started hearing a clicking noise every time I walked, but not when I ran. As the weeks went by, it started hurting. After a month, it became excruciatingly painful, to the point that I had to stop running for a couple months. I couldn't even bend the knee when I walked at that time.

Fortunately, the solution was very simple. If I had done it at the beginning, and also limited how many miles or how much time I ran, I wouldn't have had any of those knee issues. It was functional strength training -- compound bodyweight and free weight exercises, core focus, single-leg exercises. This focuses on coordinated movement, core stability and muscle balance. After just a couple sessions, my knee finally stopped clicking. That meant that the kneecap misalignment was resolved. The only issue was the damage I had already done to the cartilage. But no worries. I just had to take some time off and the cartilage healed on its own (along with good nutrition and plenty of sleep). The knee continued to hurt for a couple months. I might have been irritating it by swimming during that time.

I had other knee, hip and lower back issues after I started up again. Then I started over. Two weeks off. Functional strength work. Start over with low-intensity training, and only ramping up very gradually. No more knee problems. The next year, I had severe shin splints (exercise-induced compartment syndrome, which is not the same as traumatic compartment syndrome). Lower-leg isolation strength exercises (bent-knee calf raises, straight-leg calf raises, toe/shin raises) resolved the problem, for good.

I don't do strength training year-round, but I do make sure to include a good program of ST in the early winter. Even just a couple months and then maintenance strength work for much of the rest of the year has been more than enough to fix all of my muscle imbalance and weakness problems (primarily from running, but I think it helps with cycling too). I haven't had any knee, hip or lower back overuse injuries in 5 years now, whereas I was almost constantly injured during my first 12-15 months of running.

I would always rely on good nutrition, enough sleep, functional strength training and smart training principles before relying on any supplements. If something hurts, you have to treat the cause, not put a bandage on the symptoms. Smart training is important. Beginners should start off with low intensity and shorter workouts. Build up the weekly hours very gradually, and not every week. Let your body get used to the new workload, whether that's 3 hrs. a week or 5 hrs. a week or whatever. Watch out for intensity as a beginner or if you've never done much intensity before (steep hills, fast rides, sprints). If you want to add those elements to cycling, add it in measured amounts. If you've never done a tempo workout, start off with short intervals of a couple minutes with a few minutes recovery at moderate effort. Only do a few intervals the first time out and see how it affects your legs and hips. Bump it up slightly after a few weeks and see how that goes. Take some easier weeks where you don't add too much intensity, to give your body some active rest. (You can still ride, but you wouldn't include intensity in the active rest weeks.)

The more ambitious you try to be with riding and training, the more seriously you have to work on nutrition, recovery and smart training principles. If you're only riding for 20 minutes at an easy pace, on a flat route without too much wind, a couple times a week, there is much less to consider. But once you start ramping things up and introducing more hours on the bike and more intensity (speed, hills), then you have to take care of the other elements. If not, then injuries, illness and burnout become much more likely.

Note: You can get away with pushing it a little more with cycling, than with running. That's because cycling is lower-impact than running is. But beginners should still be mindful of not doing too much, too soon. For example, if you have a bad bike fit, it might not affect you when you're only riding 3 x 30 minutes a week. But the bad bike fit will become more noticeable if you are riding 5 hrs. or 10 hrs. a week. If you ramp up slowly, you can notice these issues before they cause significant problems. Then you can fix it before it causes serious overuse problems.