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Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Hill Too Far: Overreaching On Da Xue Shan

Yesterday I thought I would teach my legs a lesson they'd never forget and I was poised to climb Da-xue Shan (Great Snowy Mountain).

Recently, my training has focused on sustained climbing and endurance building. These two aspects of my cycling seem to have suffered the most during my down time from my injury.

I had a massive day last Sunday climbing in some high heat and then I spent the past few days pushing around boxes of books to move to our new apartment. Physically, I am beat.

My hips and lower back felt tight. My legs felt dead. I went in for a massage, and it helped a little, but my hips still felt wound up tight. I knew I was not up for what I had been envisioning as my assault on Da-xue Shan. It always feels so much easier in the imagination. I hoped after a few kilometers my legs would warm up and maybe that was all I needed. I was wrong.

I pushed along to the Hou-Feng trail feeling ok, but I overinflated my tires, so not as smooth as I would have liked.

The Hou-Feng trail is one of Taichung's showcased leisure bike trails that is coated with a speed-robbing coating that makes it feel like you are riding through Molasses Swamp at maximum effort. Maybe Taiwan is so technologically advanced, they have a secret plan to steal energy from cyclists and use it to power unicorn farms.

I huffed on through to Dong Hshih and began climbing Dongkeng St. toward the top of Da-xue Shan. The cross winds didn't do much to help things either.

I have done this route several times and this time felt only slightly better than the first. I just kept pushing and trying to play mind games so that I wouldn't think about the soreness. I thought Da-xue Shan would be great with its gentler grades than the Route 136.

It was getting late, so I turned around at 3300ft. Nowhere near my goal, but good enough for me. I was riding like crap anyways.

My body had an adverse reaction to all this. I had overreached.

Overreaching is the phenomenon in endurance sports where the body reacts to the repeated stresses of hard training with fatigue.

If the "bonk" is stage 1, and normal fatigue is stage 2, then overreaching is stage 3. The next step in the progression of feeling like crap from exercise is overtraining. Overtraining can last for weeks or even months and can severely limit one's athletic improvement. The body feels under assault and rather than strengthening to combat the physical stresses, it works to conserve and protect itself from those stresses. The last step on the scale may be pathological fatigue and illness.

I will dial it back a little to recover and keep the improvements coming.

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