I have mentioned the Monkey Gym before in this blog. Kit Laughlin runs this gym at the ANU sports union. They offer strength and flexibility classes (for which there is definitely cross-over both ways at the higher levels).
As a general rule I think everyone should be involved in stretching because it helps prevent injuries, it makes your body work better and it just plain feels good. I tend to send anyone who will listen to the Monkey Gym because they offer a lot of class times, the ANU is quite central and I have enjoyed my time there. It is not very often that people take my recommendation and put it into practice.
Recently Tom did just that - he enrolled in both strength and posture beginner’s classes. Jonathan, whom I’ve had a lot to do with myself, is taking the beginner’s strength class. He introduced them to the concept of three types of muscle soreness:
  • The strange feeling you get from putting your body into a position that it is not used to (rather than pain I have always thought of this as sensation).
  • The sore feeling you get from having worked a muscle hard (this is DOMS, the subject of this post).
  • Finally the bad feeling you get from having injured a muscle (a tear, strain or other bad outcome from a workout).

The Monkey Gym classes are really good at providing you with the first two types of “sore” but work pretty hard to prevent your experience in the third type.
For me, and most people, DOMS really kicks in at its peak the morning of the second day after the workout. As I type this today I have discovered that one can even have DOMS in the toes - my singlespeed blast through Sparrow Hill with Trudy on Thursday night was a fun, but hard, workout. Today being Saturday, everything has that sheen of pain spread over it, reminding me that I am not as fit as I would like to be and also that I pushed it on Thursday.
As Jonathan suggested, this is good sore, not bad sore. I am happy to feel like this for several reasons. The main two are that this pain helps cover my back pain and this pain suggests that I did something that is going to make me more fit.
Right now I need some fitness building if I am going to have an enjoyable outing on October 1 at the Master’s ITT nationals. Given that the start line is less than 10 minutes ride from my house and that the one and only time I have raced my ITT bike was at Master’s nationals 2008, I feel a compulsion to ride it - even though I fully expect it to leave me with type 3 soreness (yes the bad one).

Back to DOMS, the main reason for the soreness for me is the matter of driving the bike up the hills in a slightly too large gear. I know that once I get on top of the one gear mode of transport the 32x18 gearing (remember 29” wheels so same as 32x16 on a 26” wheel bike) will be OK, but for the low fitness, learning self it is too big and requires an awful lot of muscle to get it up the hills. My hands, arms, shoulders, back, abs, butt, thighs, calves and apparently feet were all involved in that propulsion.
Another aspect is the rough ride of the Gary Fisher frame. Yes it is a 29er. Yes it has big tyres, good forks and a comfortable saddle. But compared to my geared titanium hardtail the aluminium frame beats me up. Yet that too is an adaptation waiting to happen. Just 2 weekends ago I had the identical blast through Sparrow Hill on the same bike and the rough ride left me much more sore than it did this time. I believe I was more relaxed.

I have known people who didn’t like to work out properly because it left them feeling sore and immobile. Anyone who wants to increase their speed on a bike will welcome the arrival of DOMS, at least on occasion, because it signals that you did something good for your fitness. Oh, I almost forgot - the reason I brought up the Monkey Gym in the first place was that I ceased going there when it became obvious that my Friday night advanced strength class left me too sore with DOMS for me to get in a decent ride on the weekend (which is the two days per week that I really can have a good ride). I have been duplicating some of the classes moves in my own gym with some of my cyclists on Tuesday evenings. DOMS on Thursday doesn’t seem nearly as bad as on Sunday.

Go out there and make yourself sore, but keep it to good sore.