Rest, recovery and very little riding

I’m not good at being sick. I’m not one of those people that can sit around and wait for an illness to run its course. I’ll inevitably succumb to cabin fever and get back to normal life earlier than I should.

I’ve written in my last few posts about how I got sick immediately after getting home from the Tour de France. Virtually a month later I’m still not feeling 100%.

I don’t feel hugely ill, but something doesn’t feel quite right. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say I feel physically “fragile”. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of illness and that any sort of exertion will lead to a flare-up.

Last week I was walking to the train station and realised I was running late. I ran the last 300m to the platform and felt like I was going to throw up. Given I ran a marathon a few years back, 300m shouldn’t have been enough to have me feeling like I was going to lose my breakfast. I’ve also felt lightheaded and woozy with random bouts of nausea in recent weeks.

Before this weekend I’d only done four easy rides since getting back from France and I felt worse after each ride than I had beforehand. After being knocked right around by Donna Done Dirty I took 13 days off the bike, just to make sure I was alright. That’s the longest I’ve gone without riding since last year’s 3 Peaks Challenge, 18 months ago.

This weekend I’d tentatively said I would go along to a couple of rides some mates were planning but when the weekend rolled around I simply didn’t feel up to either of the rides. I hate having to pike on rides, particularly when I’m actually really keen to go along, but I was really worried about making things worse.

In the end I still managed to get out for two rides this weekend, but they were both very short and done at an undeniably pedestrian pace.

On Saturday I headed west along the Western Ring Road trail towards Jacana to check out a bike track climb I keep seeing whenever I drive along the Ring Road. After a couple of detours and a few looks at Google Maps I found the climb, and it’s a nasty one! Strava lists it as 400m at 9.4% and according to the Gradient Level app on my iPhone the path maxes out at 23%. Ouch!

I rode up there a couple of times — very slowly — as I explored the maze of nearby bike tracks, sussing out a nice little loop or two that I can use to train on when I’m back to full strength.

In the end it was an enjoyable little ride. I finished up with about 44km and while I rode it very slowly — an average of 20km/h — it was good to be back on the bike.

Today I headed out for a 25km spin with my partner Sharon which was nice and slow as well but equally enjoyable. Even a short, slow ride is better than sitting at home on the couch.

That said, I am starting to go a little crazy about not being to do longer, hillier rides. I haven’t been out to the Dandenongs since I got back to Australia and I’m really keen to do so. One of the things I’m most looking forward to is exploring some of the many dirt roads in and around the ‘Nongs, having been inspired by this ride by Brendan Edwards.

One of my most immediate goals though is Amy’s Gran Fondo which is coming up on September 15. Last year myself and the eQuipo tranQuilo guys took it pretty seriously, riding the whole thing at a high intensity. I’m not sure I’ll do the same thing this year — I’m more interested in rolling around and enjoying the day than trying to beat my time from last year (which I doubt I’d be able to do).

It’s been a frustrating month or so but as my eQuipo tranQuilo teammate Fletch reminded me the other day, it’s probably not a bad time of year to be off the bike. As impatient as I am, I need to use this time to get back to full health before building my fitness for the warmer months.

In the meantime the weather forecast is looking nice so I’ll see if I’m up to riding in to work a couple days this week … slowly. And if I’m still not feeling right later this week it might be time to cough up and finally see a doctor.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Feature image appears courtesy of estherase on Flickr.

16 Replies to “Rest, recovery and very little riding”

  1. Just a thought but maybe you’ve been overtraining?
    My 2 cents, for what it’s worth, might be that you ease back on the roading and allocate some of your training time to other pursuits such as running, gym work, yoga, swimming, indoor climbing, anything except cycling, and also – very important – really focus on rest and recovery and in particular eating and sleeping well. Go easy on your body, it speaks to us (bit hippy here but hang with me) and we just need to listen (although we often block it out or aim to overide e.g. coffee).. After a bit of cross-training you’ll be raring for a good ride in not to long and you’ll pick up some extra strength / different mindset from the mixed training.

    Thanks for a great site.

    1. Hi Xander,

      Thanks for this. I’m certainly aware of that possibility but I don’t think overtraining is responsible. I’m rarely doing more than 200km of cycling a week, and much of that as commuting. But you’re right about the “listening to our bodies” stuff. I’m trying my best to do just that, even though it’s very hard to!

  2. Certainly not wanting to spook anybody here, but a friend of mine went to Europe in 2007 and came back feeling awful. To cut a long story short, about 5 or 6 months later he was diagnosed with the likelihood of Lyme disease. He had no recollection of a bite & no rash.

  3. Trust will be up and out about soon
    Just a quick thank you for your fantastic website – moved to Melbourne a year ago and have been working (slowly) through the list – it is an absolutely great resource.

    Just read the Donna Done Dirty blog and am looking forward to riding the route – last weekend I was sat outside the Cog Café thinking I can’t see snow – what does google map mean closed Jul- Sept – looked on this site and I have the answer. (yes I will be careful from the UK and used to snow and ice!)

    Get well

  4. Ha, like everyone else who’s commented I’ve been crook as well.. but a couple of Saturdays ago the weather was too beautiful not to ride. Said to my wife I’d be an hour.. well, once I went, it was for twice as long as expected. Felt good too, couple of little climbs and really blew that virus out.

    Long story short, spent the next 9 hours in hospital getting tests for chest and arm cramps I had after I got home! 🙂 (Viral, not heart related!)

    Lesson, rest and ride when you’re ready.
    ..and maybe leave the curtains closed for the next week… it’s gonna be nice out there!

  5. A wind trainer at home is a great way to train when you aren’t well. You can set a pace and ride a exactly that pace. Or set a heart rate and ride at exactly that heart rate. When you’ve had enough you stop and you’re already home.

  6. Yep worth getting a blood test, even if it’s just to rule everything else out and know in your mind that it’s just rest you need. Last year I picked up a stomach bug after a month in Indonesia, and I reckon it took about 3 months before I felt normal again, partly I think because I kept trying to ride too hard too soon.

  7. Matt, I’ll be rude! Go see a doc and get your bloods done.
    Something’s amiss. Prob no big deal.
    Best wishes

  8. Matt. I feel your pain. I got sick over 4th of July weekend and after a short period of rest, tried to resume training like nothing had ever happened. That made it worse as I got a lower respiratory infection and felt miserable for almost two months. I am just starting to get better now. Rest up as much as you can. The hills will be there when you’re better.

  9. Matt,
    I always enjoy your post, your efforts inspire this 66 year old to keep pushing it. Like all of us we pay more attention to our bikes than ourselves. Go see the mechanic, get it sorted and I look forward to more well told tales of the climb.

  10. Matt,

    Sounds awful. I hear you, I got the flu on the 28th July and it took until this weekend to be able to ride again!

    Off to France early October and it has put me three weeks behind!



  11. it’s not unusual for me to feel flat after coming back from a big holiday, but if it’s a physical illness i’d be off to the docs. health is ironically one of the more difficult things to manage when you are riding to build form..

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