During the summer and fall, I had lots of problems with “leg burn” — no matter how hard I was (or was not) riding. Curiously, it was difficult to get my heart rate into Zones 4 and 5 — at least those zones as determined by me last spring on a test ride up Nine Mile Hill. (For me, these zones lie above 160+ bpm.) My legs were burning so much even on moderate efforts that I didn’t want to venture into higher territory.
So what was going on? I have two theories:
(1) Blood pressure medication I started taking in the late spring was affecting my legs, or
(2) I was overtrained.
The trouble with the first theory is that I stopped the blood pressure medication after my doctor decided maybe I didn’t need to be on it after all. But my legs still burned after I went off the medication.
As far as the second theory is concerned, I could have easily been overtrained, especially in the months of September and October, where I rode lots of miles (900+ miles / month). And in the other months, I was doing lots of hard rides, mostly with the TriScottsdale group.
Lately I haven’t been riding much. And I notice my legs don’t have that burn anymore, even during moderately hard efforts. And now it’s very easy to get into Zones 4 and 5.
Take today for instance. I went out on a 40 mile ride with the Wheezer Geezers up the well-worn route of Via Linda. I spent 12 miles in Zone 4, and 5 miles in Zone 5. Yet my legs never burned and never felt tired — in fact, they felt fabulous. I felt like I was floating up the hills.
So, was I overtrained before, and now my legs are fresh?
Or am I in fact, out of shape and thus my heart is having to work harder?
I’m thinking it’s the former.
I’m also thinking that a heavy dose of yoga the past few weeks (3 to 4 times a week) is yielding great benefits.
Whatever the case, it bodes well for my goal of doing a series of double centuries next spring. My legs are feeling mighty fine.