For the last several weeks, I’ve been complaining about my reduced ability to recover this year. To be honest, I’m not even sure I’ve said this out loud. It’s been on my mind so much that I imagine I’ve talked to my wife about it and one of the guys at work, but maybe not. It seems a little silly for a person who is not a serious athelete to talk about recovery, so I may not have actually vocalized it. This conversation may have simply been playing in my head, but it’s been a popular program over the last month at least.
In years past, I would try to get in good workouts on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. My only cycling on Mondays would be my commute to work on which I’d try to take it easy. But by Tuesday, I’d be ready for another fitness ride so I’d take a road bike to work and head out for a workout after work. I’d usually ride again on Thursday evening and sometimes Friday. I’d repeat that for several weeks until fatigue built up and then take a little more time off. But by then, one of my business trips would usually come around and I’d use that as a natural recovery break from cycling after which I’d come back with fresh legs.
But this year, it just seems I can’t get into that groove. The few times that I’ve felt like getting out on Tuesday, I can immediately tell that I’m still fatigued and I have to push through to continue my ride. (And we all know that does no good for fitness.) Looking back at my cycling log over the last month or two shows direct evidence of this. I just logged my lowest mileage in May ever. And I’m showing a lot less miles from those mid-week fitness rides.
While mentally complaining about this problem, I’ve been racking my brain as to the reason why.
Has something fundamentally changed in my body? Ok. I am 49 years old, but I shouldn’t be seeing such an immediate change.
Is it the crappy spring we’ve had? Well, we did have lousy weather this winter and spring keeping my fitness mileage down, but it wasn’t that unusual. Last year, I had only two weeks to prepare for the 500-mile AMBA ride last year due to travel and weather and I felt great heading into that.
Maybe my travel schedule is spaced out just perfectly this year to keep me from achieving my past fitness level? Looking back, nope; nothing unusual there. Plus, I’ve taken extraordinary steps to maintain some fitness by running on the streets of Hyderabad and Las Vegas.
Well, celebrate with me folks because I believe I had a revelation as I headed to bed last night. (Cue magestic sounding choir in three… two… one… ahhhhhhhh.) The difference is ibuprofen. Seriously.
In years past, I have taken a good dose of ibuprofen just before going to bed after a hard effort because sore legs would keep me from a deep sleep. I’d thrash and turn all night long if I didn’t. I have not been doing that this year because I was influenced by an article I read recently. It might be this one or that one, but the gist was that anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) prevent some of the natural benefits of natural recovery from inflammation. This induced a feeling in me that I should be dealing with soreness more naturally. So, for the last couple of months, I’ve not been taking ibuprofen for aching legs and I’ve been suffering because of it. In fact, here it is Wednesday morning and I’m standing here with very sore legs after a modest effort on the weekend and two normal commuting rides. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that now that I know the source of my complaint, I can fix it. So… bring on the drugs, y’all.