Bad Days

10 Dec 2004

Just yesterday our legs were spinning so easily, we “couldn’t feel the chain”, while today it’s so hard to “move the bike”, every pedal stroke is a painful effort. 

This is a most common scenario for every cyclist, a sudden and seemingly inexplicable alteration in efficiency that every passionate and professional surely had to experience more than once. 

Some athletes are more sensible to the alteration than others, and it’s definitely hard to find a cause or reason; but sometimes a physiological cause is visible. 

Whenever we have excellent feelings either in training or racing often we tend to overdo, exhausting glycogen stores that might be difficult to recuperate in only 24 hours. 
This temporary exhaustion might also involve certain hormones, whose production is exalted the day when we feel good and depressed the following day. 

I always recommend to curb exuberance in “good days” and hold tight and try to bear the suffering in “bad days”, when stronger is the temptation to turn the bike back home. 
It is really through the efforts in our “darkest days” that we favor adaptation of our organism towards improvement. 
Therefore it is usually recommendable to complete the daily session nonetheless, maybe reducing the intensities a little bit. 

Even great champions get to know negative days, often to be followed by a timely and sensational come back the next day. 
In the 17th stage of the Giro d’ Italia in 1982, Bernard Hinault had a not so positive day, losing over 3’ and the pink jersey to Silvano Contini. 
24 hours later, on the ramps of Monte Campione, the Breton set up a hellish pace for everyone: at the top he was in pink again, sealing the final victory. 

 

External factors can also determine the causes for the negative feelings in bad days. 
Cold is surely the most frequent among such, especially in humid, wet winter days: muscles and joints don’t seem to warm up, resulting in stiffness, increased internal frictions and a general sensation of inefficiency. 

Also specific gym sessions could evoke negative sensations in the following 24-48 hours, mainly due to reversible microlesions from the eccentric component of the workouts. 

Prolonged stress situations or sleeping problems can as well determine the sudden energetic blackouts typical of bad days: in such cases it is recommendable not to insist on the more specific training and allow a proper “recovery” period.