View Full Version : Energy Low--Can't identify the problem

05-02-2007, 05:43 AM
I'm wondering if anyone's got any tips or suggestions for me. I'm newly a serious biker, having been riding for a number of years but just this year joined a team. So, at this point I ride about 50-80 miles a week training, and commute something like 50 miles a week (stop and go, and a bit slower) in the city.

Lately I'll just be BURNT OUT for days after a 30 mile ride. I'm lightheaded after about an hour after I cool down right after the ride. And the next few days it's like my legs don't have power--I'm riding sooooo slowly through the city on my commutes.

I'm wondering if perhaps I'm just not in good shape yet, and I'm pushing myself too hard. Or if I'm not getting propper nutrition--I eat a lot of meat and veggies, and have recently read a lot about increasing my complex carbs for energy?

Also, what kinds of energy drinks should I have while I'm riding--Gatoraide seems to have about a 6% carb dosage as well as a bunch of sodium. What about Sugar intake, or do I drink too much coffee? Am I even looking in the right places here.

What about sleep? I have knee problems and a shoulder injury from a bicycle accident two years ago which keep me up some nights with cramps and pain--can this be the source?

:confused: Overall I'm getting frustrated that my goal of getting up to training 150-200 miles a week (is this insane?) by the end of the season isn't going to happen--I'd like to try out for my teams racing team this fall for next year if possible.

Thanks for any comments or suggestions or telling me your experience as a beginner rider!!

05-02-2007, 05:58 AM
I'm sorry your low energy is interrupting your riding! I know from experience it's a terrible feeling

You've hit lots of ideas that the girls will help you with. I just have one other suggestion: talk to your doctor. Low energy can be a symptom of many different medical problems. As you experiment with different types of fuelling, new strategies for timing of exercise, for getting better sleep, whatever else you do, keep track of any other symptoms too. If you can't increase your energy on your own, those other symptoms will help the doc decide what to investigate.

Good luck!

Hugs and energetic butterflies,

05-02-2007, 06:24 AM
how much do you weigh? how much are you eating? you said you eat meat and veggies, but you need carbs too.

you can do some calculations based on how far you are going and how hard you are working and figure out how many calories you need.
and hey, are you pregnant :o that sure slows some of us down.

05-02-2007, 06:30 AM
Are you pregnant?

Not eating enough?

Thyroid issues?

05-02-2007, 06:34 AM
Meat and veggies aren't going to fuel you for the sorts of miles you are aiming to ride. You need complex carbs - pasta, potatoes, bread, cereal, beans, rice, etc. And a good quality energy drink may prove essential for longer rides (over 30 miles). I say "may" because everyone is different, and this is your big chance to experiment and see what works for you and what does not.

Take the next month or so and experiment with adding different foods to your diet and trying diffreent food and drink on the bike. How do you feel that day? The next day?

Sleep is critical over the long haul, so if necessary maybe experiment with an OTC aid like tylenol PM or something to ensure you get a solid night sleep every once in a while. Go to bed early and get up early. Get yourself into a schedule that will facilitate the sort of training you want to do. Staying up or out all night won't work. (I don't know if you do that but I just thought I would throw it in.)

Also, how quickly have you increased your mileage? Perhaps the tiredness is overtraining? Perhaps it is something else. Try taking a few days off and see how you feel.

Recovery is HUGE. You are not going to get better, faster, longer if you don't give yourself time to recover. Be sure to take at least 1 - 2 days a week completely off the bike. Have a day or two thrown in there where you ride at a recovery pace. You get stronger during the periods when your body is recovering.

Finally, if nothing else seems to work do check with your doctor and see if there may be some other issue such as a thyroid disorder going on.

Good luck - let us know how it goes.

05-02-2007, 07:13 AM
Thanks so much for all of this help.

I think the first thing I'll try is some Tylenol PM, start there, and keep a food diary in the next month to identify trends with when I ride/what did I eat the few hours before.

I also bought several different kinds of meal bars yesterday that I'll be trying out during rides in the coming week.

I am most likely not pregnant, but that is a good suggestion. I've had this problem for several months now, so this is likely not the problem.

I will also check in with a doctor as soon as my health insurrance kicks in in July--It's very unsettling to have to wait this long but I'll keep you updated.

Thanks for the well wishes and advice!!

05-02-2007, 07:39 AM
I'm probably repeating a lot of what Malliotpois said but,
It does sound like you are having some over reaching / over training problems. Take a few days off - maybe even a week. Rest up and eat well. Then get back on your bike and see how you feel.
Make sure that you eat and drink on the bike and make sure that you eat within a half hour of getting off the bike. You don't have to use a recovery drink, but if it is difficult to decide what to eat or make something they can be great for getting the right balance of carbs and protein in quickly.
When you are training make sure that you aren't doing hard workouts every day of the week. Take at least one day completely off the bike and make sure that several days on the bike are recovery days (hr zones 1-2 only!). Make every 4 weeks or so a recovery week - take more than one day completely off and make all the other days easy.
If you don't have one purchase a hr monitor. One of the signs you are overtraining is an elevated resting hr, so start taking your resting hr and keeping a log.
oh - and just food for thought - I have a coach and none of my training is tracked by mileage, its all tracked by time.

05-04-2007, 12:30 PM
You may also want to have a doctor check for iron deficiency. Iron deficiency certainly causes low energy. though i now take supplements there are still times when my iron gets low (around the time of my period) and a short ride can be a real struggle, even though I am in good shape. However, don't take iron supplements unless a doctor identifies this as a problem as iron overload can also cause serious problems.

05-13-2007, 10:40 PM
and also sodium levels,mine were way too low and i was feeling horrendous.

05-14-2007, 12:27 AM
I'm prolly echoing what had been said - particularly from Mallio and Eden.

Rest days are imperitive and this does sound suspiciously like over-training. People can interpret increasing training meaning alot more training... when in fact you must build in rest days, or slow recovery rides, to ensure your body/muscles have time to respond to the demands and change accordingly. You are asking your metabolism to change and this takes time... and resting is an important part of that time.

Have you made a jump in mileage since you joined a team? It is not recommended to increase mileage too quickly... about 10% a week or something like that I think.

You say "propper nutrition--I eat a lot of meat and veggies"... I wonder about your carb intake the night before a long or high-energy ride. Plenty of pasta or rice with your meat and veg the evening before?

I've prolly just repeated... experiment with caution and wisdom, and you will work out the "why".

Looking forward to hearing that your energy levels have returned...

05-14-2007, 09:47 AM
The Magic Eight Ball says "all signs point to overtraining".
See http://exercise.about.com/cs/exbeginners/a/overtraining.htm

05-14-2007, 11:42 AM
All the girls have made some good points. I would further suggest adding an energy drink to your rides, especially your long/vigorous ones. You mentioned their sugar and salt content, but from an energy/hydration/electrolyte replacement standpoint, that's essentially good (unless you're otherwise on some kind of dietary restriction). I prefer CytoMax over Gatorade. It's easier on my tummy. Experiment to find out what brand works for you.

From a nutrition on the bike standpoint, play around with it. I like bananas, trail mix, Clif Blocks, and cookies. Anything too heavy just makes me feel kind of ick. I also make sure that I drink a recovery drink of some kind--right now it's 16 ounces of chocolate milk--after most rides. It seems to be helping me feel better faster.

05-14-2007, 03:18 PM
1. One long ride per week (30-40-50)
2. A day off between rides.
3. Rest of the rides per week short - like 3, 5 10 or occasionally 15.
4. Realize that you might be more tired the week before your period :mad:
5. I at a LA weight loss diet - only protein, veggies, fruit, and minimal dairy with two servings of carbs a day. Sounds a bit like yours. While this was great for weight loss/ maintenance, I was POOPED and had to add carbs.
6. NO PHENALALANINE, SPLENDA, NUTRA SWEET, ETC. No diet pop, sugar free candy, light n fit yogurt, etc. - I have an occasional piece of sugar free gum. I didn't even eat the bars from LA because they have the fake sugar in them. This is fine for some people, but this has been the biggest single contributor to my muscle aches and fatigue. Also caused stomach problems and big time farts :eek: It is interesting that the research says that this stuff is a-okay, but testimonials say otherwise. Google this one for some interesting input. If you don't eat this anyhow, I will get off of my soap box now :eek:
6. Naps baby!!!!
7. Multi-vitamins.
8. Eat on the ride. Ever wondered how many calories a one hour ride burns? Go to sparkpeople.com and they have a fitness section w/ calorie calculator.

Well, I am new to this as well, but these things have made a big difference. Like everyone else says - don't overtrain. Cycling is so fun that it is hard to walk by the old bike without hopping on:D

Hope this helps.....

05-16-2007, 12:45 AM
I think that an appointment with your doctor is where you should be heading.

Obviously the problem is worrying you and is not normal. It could be a combination of more than one problem. Low iron mean less oxygen in your blood and therefore you would be struggling. When it becomes severe you can experience extreme tiredness and lack of stamina as well as a lightheaded feeling, poor concentration etc. Self medicating is dangerous as too much iron is just as bad.

Go to the doctor and get an expert to diagnose! :p

06-19-2007, 10:08 AM

I had forgotten how helpful this forum is and haven't checked back in a while.

Turns out I was on the verge of a severe intestinal infection that rendered me in the ER. I'm still having problems as of today, having been to three doctors and finally being treated correctly.

The problem is that I don't think that is the extent of it.

My plan is to go to the Doctor next (I just got health insurance and can do this liberally now!) with this to check on:

diabetes (runs high in my family and i have other symptoms besides fatigue)

And I am headed to the store for potatoes today!

Thanks to everyone who has chimed in on this issue--my energy problems have been dampening my life lately!

Oh--and I'm going to bed earlier these days despite being so busy, and it's helping!!!

06-19-2007, 10:37 AM
Great to hear you pinpointed a major problem and hopefully your recovery is rapid and you shake those nasty bugs!

A completely unmedical opinion on your original post?

Sounds like you are not getting enough rest (see Eden's post about rest days, rest weeks and active recovery rides).

When we stress our muscles with hard or different riding, the muscles get tiny tears in them as they stretch and adapt. Thats why it hurts some days. You need to allow your muscles time to heal into the "new shape" you are asking of them - you need to allow your body time to adapt to these new demands.

I also second more carbs in the diet - if minerals and vitimins are ok, then its probably carbs. You have increased your energy output, so you need to increase your energy intake.

If you haven't (increased the fuel you are putting into your body) it is comparable to asking a car which goes 400km on a tank of gas to go 600km... and thats just silly, cause after 400km you would be stranded and probably nowhere near a gas station...

So rest and fuel - think about those - a food diary is an excellent beginning - did you start it? Note beside your food for the day your energy on the bike. And remember that yesterday's food may very well have an impact on todays performance.

06-20-2007, 11:25 AM
Thank you, Road Raven,

I have begun many food diaries and loose interest quickly :( I think it's time to take this seriously! And last night I made sweet potatoes with my fish dinner--yummm!