CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
Last updated: 1/15/2016
Can you train too much? This
article suggests you can exercise too much - to the detriment of your physical health.
But how much is too much? Unfortunately we, the baby boomers, are at the leading edge of the
curve of a new group of ultra athletes - and only time will sort out the answer. Until
then each of us will have to answer that for our selves.
And here is another review I did in 1/2016:
CAN TOO MUCH EXERCISE HARM THE HEART?
I was asked: "How 'healthy' is the high intensity cycling that I've been
doing (at over 50's)? By high intensity I mean continuous effort at 85-90% HRMax
with touches of 100% HRMax. And then a few days later I ran across
in the NYT that stated, assuming no family or personal history of heart disease, there
was "... no evidence É.there is a level of exercise that is dangerous or too much for a normal,
healthy person." Although this is generally true, there is sound evidence that there
is indeed an upper limit for cardiac healthy exercise. The curve of benefits versus
exercise volume doesn't just plateau, it probably starts to drop off as the extremes
are reached . A few examples:
So what is the answer to the reader's question? First, there is no solid data on the
upper limit of beneficial exercise (where more is really less health wise). And my
comments assume you have no family or personal history of cardiac disease or sudden death.
- Diverse patterns of myocardial
fibrosis in lifelong, veteran endurance athletes provides suggestive evidence of
cardiac scarring in veteran athletes associated with the number of years spent training, number of competitive marathons, and ultraendurance (>50 miles) marathons completed.
- Risk of arrhythmias in 52 755 long-distance cross-country skiers: a cohort study documents that among male participants of a 90 km cross-country skiing event, a faster
finishing time and a high number of completed races was associated with a 30% higher risk of arrhythmias.
- We know that competitive level
events can cause cardiac muscle injury - "chronic training for and competing
in extreme endurance events such as marathons, ultra-marathons, ironman distance triathlons,
and very long distance bicycle races, can cause transient acute volume overload of the
atria and right ventricle, with transient reductions in right ventricular ejection
fraction and elevations of cardiac biomarkers, all of which return to normal within 1 week."
There are two potential health risks from high intensity cycling - Musculoskeletal (or overuse)
injuries and cardiovascular. The musculoskeletal injuries are known to all of us who
exercise and participate in aerobic sports. Overuse leads to injury. And the cure is to
listen to your body, and if it hurts when you are using it, decrease your activity level.
The cardiovascular risks appear to be from repeated stress at the ultraendurance event level.
(Pushing through the pain, as it were.) Although acute stress might cause some modest
cardiac muscle injury (and leakage of muscle enzymes into the blood where they can be
measured) this heals within a few days, and only with repeated injury/healing/injury
does scarring appear to be a risk.
There is no evidence that short term, high level exertion such as 30 to 60 second
intervals is harmful and also no sound evidence that intervals longer than this add benefit to cardiovascular fitness.
My Bottom Line? Pushing your limits (within reason) is not harmful to
your health. But cardiovascular risk appears as you move to the ultra event level.
- Do intervals to improve your aerobic fitness.
- Do long rides once or twice a week to get your musculoskeletal systems in shape for long rides.
- As you train, listen to your body.
- If it hurts (bones, joints, butt) when you use it, reassess and modify your program.
- If your legs are tired as you do start intervals, take a day off, do some easy spinning (with light interval stress if you feel compelled) and come back ready for another try the next day.
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