Can we “hit a wall” on the trainer?

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People say they have ‘hit a wall’ when they experience a drop in blood sugar (glucose) levels due to intense and more or less prolonged exertion. So, can I suffer from a fainting spell on the trainer? The similarities between outdoor and indoor cycling are so close that yes, you can have hypoglycaemia on the road too.

How do I know if I have hit a wall?

What is popularly known as a “low blood sugar” is a depletion of glucose reserves in the form of weakness, tiredness, shortness of breath, cold sweats, dizziness, blurred vision, etc.

These symptoms occur when energy reserves have been depleted after intense or long-lasting training. It usually occurs after several hours of cycling in which your effort has exceeded your anaerobic threshold.

This is why it is important to know your anaerobic threshold, as this parameter allows you to control the situation when cycling at a specific cadence. If you exceed this limit, exhaustion sets in, exposing you to the risk of a breakdown.

In indoor cycling it is also common to suffer from fatigue, because just as in outdoor races, the effort exerted in a race between friends in a group or the intensity of the conditions can be so high that it exceeds the limits.

How do I avoid hitting a wall?

Now that we have determined the causes that expose you to fatigue, we are going to give you the recommendations to avoid suffering from it.

Train

Training is very important, as those athletes with the least amount of training are the most likely to suffer from it. You should increase the intensity of your workouts on the bike and for this we recommend interval training, as it is a very useful system for making progress.

By increasing the intensity you can increase your anaerobic threshold, while your body progressively adapts to the stress of exercise. Always be aware of your own limits and do not push yourself too hard, otherwise the effect will be the opposite: you expose yourself to failure.

Good nutrition

Nutrition is the key, as the replenishment of your glycogen stores depends on it. Carbohydrate intake – based on cycling several days a week – is between 3 and 12 grams per kilo of body weight.

If you are going to take part in a race, walk or event, we recommend that you train at a lower intensity beforehand, as this will keep your energy reserves close to maximum.

Hydration and fueling

Although it is sometimes a forgotten factor, hydration during exercise on the trainer is very important, as the thermoregulatory conditions of the outside environment do not occur indoors and this favours dehydration.

You should not neglect yourself and go too long without eating or drinking. Before the race you should eat properly, because, as mentioned beforehand, your energy reserves depend on your diet.

From time to time you should eat foods with sugar and carbohydrates, such as gels and nutrition bars. Depending on the intensity of the route, food intake should be higher or lower, as should hydration.

Stop if necessary

If you feel weak and tired even though you have taken care to eat and drink, it is advisable to stop. You can try slowing down, eating gel for a quick energy boost and hydration.

But if you don’t recover with these measures, the best option is to stop exercising so that you don’t expose yourself to the risk of suffering from fatigue, even if you feel that you should have enough energy.

What do I do if I am hitting a wall?

As soon as you feel that you are struggling to keep up with the pace of even gentle pedalling, the best thing to do is to stop to eat and hydrate. It takes time for the body to recover its initial energy levels, so be patient and don’t try to exercise again after having eaten.

Foods with sugar and carbohydrates are a good option for slow energy recovery. Energy drinks and sugary soft drinks are also a good alternative to get you going, even caffeine helps to give you a boost.

But no matter how much you stop, eat and drink, it’s not enough to get you back in the race. Recover slowly and don’t rush. The Smart trainer will still be in place when you’re ready.

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