New User - Difficulty Getting Started

TrainerRoad seems great to me, only, I am having trouble adapting to the training. I am a 34 y/o, 6’, 150Lbs, 2 year MTBer who generally rides 2-3 times per week 8-13 miles. I do medium intensity full body workouts about 2xweek that include rehab lifting for patellar tendonitis (split squats with dumbells at the moment) and some lighter upper body stuff. The patellar tendonitis issue is improving greatly and is not the subject of this post (at least not directly).

I started SSBLV1 over a month ago and have not been able to ride on the trainer without getting new injuries. After the first week or so of training I developed sharp pain in the back of my left leg. I took a week off continuing to do weighted exercises that didn’t hurt and some stretching. I also lowered my seat a bit. This issue has improved well enough that I don’t feel it on the trainer at all in most conditions.

Next, after the back of knee pain improved, I re-started SSBLV1 from scratch and made it through 2-3 workouts before developing pain that I believe to be my right hip flexor (hurts when I lift my right leg up). Today, I skipped my first workout of this second attempt to do the plan over again. I decided I need to do some gentle hip flexor strengthening like straight leg raises and progress from there.

In the 2 years I have been mountain biking I have never gotten such pain or injuries just from pedalling the bike! Has anyone else dealt with similar frustrations getting started? I should add, the cadences recommended in the training are much higher than I am used to i.e. 85-95. Any obvious form culprits that could cause these problems, particularly the angry hip flexor? I’m not that old yet and I eat healthy and lift weights so I feel like I shouldn’t be falling apart this easily. I have only recently learned about how I should be fueling myself better in terms of calories and I have felt stronger in the workouts I have done after eating more. Can’t wait to get past this bump in the road and suffer the correct way!

What trainer are you using?

Are you using the same bike outside and inside?

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Maybe look into getting a bike fit?

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Using a new Kickr Core, and yes, it’s the same bike in and outside. A Kona Process 153 which is kind of an enduro bike. I put the shocks in the firmest setting on the trainer so I’m not bouncing. I don’t recalibrate the trainer every time, but maybe every 3 rides.

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This would probably be a big help and I should consider it. I hadn’t before because honestly I’m not confident in the fit expertise where I live in South Dakota. I’d have more confidence to pay for one in a bigger city. Maybe I should just do it anyway.

Re fit: If you ever make it to Billings, MT I can do your fit. I’m one of two in the area (another in Bozeman, MT). I’ve also done some remote fit work with some riders on here too, so we could start with that.

Good to know on the trainer and bike. Wanted to make sure you are on a good trainer and the same bike to rule out those variations.

I’m no physio, but in a perfect world, the outside bike shouldn’t hut you indoors. But I have a few thoughts.

  1. Inside, you are likely spending more time seated and relatively static compared to outside. You might be getting away with a less than ideal fit outside since you probably move around and stand more. Bring that inside with minimal changes and the problems become more apparent.

  2. To combat that, try adding some standing breaks while inside. Shift up and stand for 10-30 seconds every 5 mins or so, Experiment with time and technique too.

  3. Consider adding motion via simple foam under the trainer feet, or step up to a rocker plate. There’s nothing sacred or natural about a rigid trainer setup. Motion can improve saddle and joint issues based on comments from our rocker plate group.

Those are what come to mind right now. I’m finishing a trainer workout and could be missing more, but see what you think of those.

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Appreciate the time getting back to me. I am going to do as you recommended and experiment with shifting position more during the workout. I’ll also read about the rocker plates and do some more of my own bike fit research online. If still no luck, I’ll ask about the remote bike fit. Looking forward to trying my workout tomorrow and seeing how it goes. I’m really motivated to make progress with this training, so I’ll figure it out somehow!

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When I first started four years ago, I had hip flexor issues up until I got a pro fit. The only thing that made a similar difference was getting the seat right.

Worth every penny.

I’m sure a fit is a good idea. Two other thoughts:

How much sag do you have with the indoor setup? When you’re riding outside, you probably have something like 40mm of sag into the travel, which has a pretty big impact on the way the bike fits compared to when you’re locked out sitting at the top of the travel. You might try raising the front wheel 10-20 mm to account for this.

If the cadences are that much higher than what you’re used to, then it’d be a good idea to do a handful of light-to-medium rides where you gradually bring the cadence up, backing off whenever you feel discomfort. Much like using light weights while you get used to a new lift.

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:exploding_head: You typed all that out while on the trainer?! You’re not working hard enough!

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:joy:

Well, it was at the end of this where I extended the cool down and had it set at Endurance zone.

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Chad seems to covered most relevant points for you.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but you should get a cheap road bike and replace your mtb. Anything 9 or 10 speed is fine. You don’t need disc brakes, or good wheels. Cheap, like $400.0p cheap. Diamondback has some, Breezer does too. Or find something used. Even a cheap XC hardtack is better than an enduro bike.

In my experiences, body position on mountain bikes is not ideal for sustained, repetitive training intervals in general. And it’s harder to accommodate good changes, especially on modern mtb models (which really suck for sustained XC riding too, I have an Altitude). And pump your rear shock up to max and use the climb switch to prevent any motion.

You can learn some basic bike fit stuff here. Just don’t self-diagnose too much. Make changes one at a time and try a ride of similar intensity and duration to see if anything is different.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/faq/

Update: I think I’m beating these issues I was facing on the trainer. Thanks for the help! I guess it’s good that I ran into these problems right away so I could learn some important lessons for the long term.

My hypothesis is that for someone new to the trainer and new to high cadences and quadrant drills etc. SSBLV1 may be too much volume using muscles and joints in an unfamiliar way. Being new to the training I was trying hard to follow the text - i.e. pedal with one foot, hold your aero position, kick and pull. I should have ignored the text and just pedaled the way I always have, at least to get acclimated, adding higher cadence over time instead of immediately.

The weather was nice and dry for a few days so I did a good trail ride outside with no hip or back of knee pain. The next time I got on the trainer I had the realization that I pedal differently outside. I focus more on the push down all the way through the bottom of the pedal stroke. On the trainer I start a pull back earlier. Using a different stroke (poorly executed as well) at 95 ±5 rpm is probably really harsh on tissues that are used to another technique at 60-80 (pedal masher rpm.)

I also learned a bit more about bike fit. If you have inner hip or hip flexor pain you may want to consider the following are options to decrease hip flexion at the top of the pedal stroke: higher stack (handlebars) or bars closer to rider, more forward seat, pedal farther back under your foot. Of course still make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes. I also OPENED both of my shocks compression damping so that my bike would sag naturally into a more similar position to the way it rides outside (instead of locking out). The compromise is that it could bounce a little, so I need to be smooth on the pedals.

I learned that if you are using your muscles to hold your pelvis in position on the seat, that is probably bad. Adjust seat angle of your seat or get a new one. I think I need a different seat, but by modifying the angle I at least made it work for now.

Easing my way back into the volume may have helped too. I did some rides stopping at the half hour mark before hip tightness turned into hip pain.

I read about rocker plates, but the solutions are a bit cumbersome. It seems like plenty of people make it work without them, so there must be a way to ride statically without injury.

Anyway, in my last 3 rides I have had little to no pain, and I’m excited to see if I can make those “n00b” gains over the winter that everyone talks about. My word of caution to beginners like me is that if you feel pain -stop- something isn’t right. You probably need to make a change or let someone else make a change for you and/or ease into the plan instead of going for full compliance right away. My inexperienced 2 cents! :slight_smile:

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Well, since you brought up pedal stroke, I’ll throw some more stuff out to you.
I am not anti-clipless; I’m back on my fat bike now and my Wolfhammer shoes are set-up SPD.

I have found the quadrant drills very useful in improving my ability to pedal consistently and fluidly, and sometimes I use my clipless pedals on the MTB to pedals from awkward positions, but I have done a few tests on my trainer with flat pedals, and I consistently output MORE power on my flats. Next I want to test the distribution of peaks and valleys of power…

These are the references you might want to read:
http://www.flammerouge.je/factsheets/cadence.htm

https://www.bikejames.com/strength/which-muscles-are-really-used-during-the-pedal-stroke/

https://www.bikejames.com/strength/the-flat-pedal-revolution-manifesto-how-to-improve-your-riding-with-flat-pedals/

Sounds like you are on the right track!
Have fun!

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Cool, def gonna check these out!