The last week, I returned to cycling after a couple week's layoff. I ramped up for a 10 miler, then 12, and 13 miles during the week. I surprisingly felt sore after the first couple of rides. However, knowing I've got to ramp up for the Miami 70.3 at the end of October, I decided to go long Sunday. The long ride wasn't bad. Not knowing how long I was in condition to handle, I did a 45 mile out and back going north along A1a. I felt so good, I added another loop going south to make it 56 miles, the full HIM ride distance. It felt good to go long.
I slept well Sunday night and awoke feeling good and energetic. My leg muscles felt somewhat tighter and in place. It made me think about how our muscles react both to exercise and to extended periods of rest. When I go on an extended break from working out, after about 7 to 10 days, the leg muscles seem to relax and unwind. When returning to regular workouts it takes about a week before the leg muscles seem to adjust back to a tighter, more athletic compactness. It's like the body will do what is asked of it. If we're working out regularly, the body stays in the condition it need to be in to handle that load. When we don't ask it to handle regular physical activity, the body slowly goes to a more relaxed looser shape. I guess that's the concept of resistance training: stress the body in a workout, adapt in recovery. It just feels good to feel the body making the adaptation to a higher level of fitness. More energy, a firmer body. It's no wonder we love to train for and do triathlons and other endurance events. It feels so good to be able to go these distances. Maybe not during those last miles of a marathon or a full Ironman, but otherwise it sure feels good.
I do believe in training cycles. Over-training can run the body into the ground. However, it sure does feel good to have the body in that "ready to roll" athletic firmness. This morning, I returned to working out with weights at my trainer's gym. I can't wait for this weekend's long run. Be sure to keep asking your body to do more. It will only do what you ask of it to do.