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Recovery Rides - Fact or Fallacy?

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Recovery Rides - Fact or Fallacy?

Old 09-05-10, 12:33 PM
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Recovery Rides - Fact or Fallacy?

irst, let me apologize for what might appear to be a somewhat misleading title. As I was out on my first ever "recovery ride" I was searching for a catchy title. After all, who the hell would want to read about some 60+ y/o's recovery ride? But when "Recovery Rides - Fact or Fantasy?" (the first iteration of the title) popped into my head, it occurred to me I might be able to kill two birds with one stone... post a boring ride report, and prompt discussion on the relative merits of "recovery rides."

In the year and a half that I have come to BF for all sorts of cycling wisdom, recovery rides have popped up in most discussions of post hammer-fest activities. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, I'm not familiar with any empirical evidence supporting the concept.

The theory, as near as I can tell, is to take a short, low effort, high cadence ride and get the blood flowing to clear toxin build up from the leg muscles. It certainly sounds logical. My interpretation is a 30-40 min ride in HR zone 2 at about 100 cadence. Speed and distance are irrelevant and are dictated by maintaining the other three factors.

But is this settled science, or just addicted cyclisits excuse to get out of the house for yet another ride Truth be know, that's how I used it today. When my wife said "Why are you going out for a bike ride today? You rode 115 yesterday!" I was able to justify it by saying "Everybody on bikeforums says you have to take a short recovery ride the day after a hard effort. It works all the poison buildup out of your legs."

So, what do you think? Any empirical evidence to support "recovery rides"

Oh, and by the way, humor an old man and check out the ride report.
Post 115 mi LOOP Recovery Ride

Executive Summary: 35 min; Ave Cad: 99; HR: Zone 2. NOTE: RWGPS average cadence is bogus. They average in 0 cad and report an mean, not the mode or median. Garmin reported 99.

For the actual 115 mi Lake Okeechobee ride report, click here: 115 mi Loop Ride
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Old 09-05-10, 12:39 PM
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I dont know the answer to that (I do my recovery rides - figure there has to be some empirical evidence of it working for it to have become commonplace) but I did read a snippet in Cycling Weekly recently where one of the riders in the Tour mentions that he finds recovery rides a waste of time, and prefers to do yoga or some other activity instead. Take that for what it is worth.
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Old 09-05-10, 12:42 PM
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If i'm feeling like crap i definitely take the day off the bike rather than going out and spinning. seems to recover me better. If it's just stiffness and a little soreness i'll go out for a spin.
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Old 09-05-10, 12:49 PM
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I have a hard time staying in the recovery ride HR zones, so I prefer to taking a full day off or I'll start overreaching. I usually walk 3-5 miles a day anyways because of the parking lot and going to classes, so I kind of use that as my recovery.
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Old 09-05-10, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bobthib
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, I'm not familiar with any empirical evidence supporting the concept.
Empirical evidence, empirical evidence!?! We don't need no stinken empirical evidence!!

Too much thinking, not enough doing! Just go on a real asskicker ride, then go on a nice, high cadence, easy does it ride the next day. If you feel better after the recovery ride then before it, there's your stinking empirical evidence!
All seriousness aside, they work for me...I just feel better, less soreness, etc.
Ride safe!
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Old 09-05-10, 01:27 PM
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I've started doing "recovery rides" this summer. I wasn't convinced for a while, and then I learned how I recover. Sounds silly, I know. But in addition to learning an effective pace, a recovery ride works best for me when it is accompanied with lots of stretching, a good diet, massage, etc. Thus, I think of recovery not as a single ride, but as a routine, and when I apply it correctly it works wonders.
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Old 09-05-10, 01:39 PM
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Most people don't ride hard enough to need recovery rides. Might help after a 115 mile day, but not necessarily so. It depends on total workload, and riding goals.

FWIW, recovery is reducing frequency and duration of workouts, but not intensity.

See what Friel says about the role of recovery in race training: https://www.trainingbible.com/pdf/Peaking_to_Race.pdf
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Old 09-05-10, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by DScott
Most people don't ride hard enough to need recovery rides. Might help after a 115 mile day, but not necessarily so. It depends on total workload, and riding goals.

FWIW, recovery is reducing frequency and duration of workouts, but not intensity.

See what Friel says about the role of recovery in race training: https://www.trainingbible.com/pdf/Peaking_to_Race.pdf
+1
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Old 09-05-10, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by DScott
Most people don't ride hard enough to need recovery rides.[/URL]
+1010101i03901238418926348364283749237423965913284-723448273846723747827
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Old 09-05-10, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DScott
See what Friel says about the role of recovery in race training: https://www.trainingbible.com/pdf/Peaking_to_Race.pdf
That was a good read.
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Old 09-05-10, 02:06 PM
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Most nonracing folks here probably don't train enough to actually need regular recovery rides.

However, if you're really pushing your limits for improvement, and especially if on a progressive schedule that pushes you faster and farther than you've ever trained before over a long period of time, you'll definitely need those recovery days. I didn't need them as well until I started run training for a marathon, and was running up to 100 miles per week. Recovery days were absolutely needed then - I was exhausted!

I do similar buildups now on the bike during season, and when you're cranking out hi intensity day after day, the recovery days become essential.

But in general, on the bike, if you feel strong enough that you don't' need a recovery ride, you probably don't. I only take them when I'm totally dragging and fatigued even before I hop on the bike for a workout, or if I'm planning for a huge effort the following day that I need to save some energy for.

Recovery days are better than do-nothing days, though. The longer your event is, the more important you keep your training volume up as well. Sprinter can probably do a lot less overall volume, but endurance riders (anything over a few minutes in length!) need them volume and the neural conditioning. This effect is really obvious in running due to weight-bearing, but still significant in cycling.
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Old 09-05-10, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by DScott
FWIW, recovery is reducing frequency and duration of workouts, but not intensity.
uhm, no. recovery is very low intensity.
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Old 09-05-10, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gjb483
uhm, no. recovery is very low intensity.
Maybe I should have said "part of recovery is reducing frequency and duration of workouts, but not intensity."

Recovery includes rest and short, hard workouts, at least according to Friel. Rest can be not riding or riding with low intensity, pretty much the same thing.

You can't think about recovery without considering what you're recovering from, and what you're training for. And the point of it is to maintain fitness as you approach your training peak, while still being fresh enough to maximize your performance for that peak period. If all you did was rest, you'd lose fitness.
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Old 09-05-10, 05:44 PM
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I like recovery rides.

I could use one today, I'm still sore from my Friday workout- but Crossfit style workout, not just a bike ride.

I use it to get rid of muscle soreness from heavy workouts.
I feel it get the circulation going and warms up the muscles. I definitely feel better after one.
My hamstring are really sore/tight from doing squats on Friday, and they always feel better after a short, easy ride- maybe 20-30 minutes.
Recovery to me means a slooow, fun ride- just noodling around. No hard effort.

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Old 09-05-10, 06:25 PM
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As a soon to be 67 yr old runner/coach with over 71,000 miles run over the last 34 yrs may I opine? Well, I will anyways.
One of the basic physiologic concepts is to stress muscles then rest them. In your 60's the body works harder to recover than if you were in your 30's. This means it takes longer to recover from a hard work out Recovery for some means complete rest--no exercise the following day after a tough,hard workout. Others seem to thrive on a very ez jog the next day. Becoming an intuitive athelete takes some practice. Learning to listen to your body instead of being fixated on certain number of miles/cadence etc ususally leads to burn out.
Try some cross training. Swim,walk,jog, weights. Work different muscles. REST days are very important.

Oh, I have only been back on a bike for 4 months and have ridden just over 2,600 miles. I find riding so much easier than running. My recovery is amazingly quick. Ofcourse, I was pretty fit when I jumped on the bike. Still running about 30 miles a week. Try doing some "bricks". Run 8-10 miles. Then jump on the bike and ride 30-40 miles. You will find it much easier to incorporate EZ/recovery and rest days with that type of training. Nick
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Old 09-05-10, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Keep SA Lame
a short, easy ride- maybe 20-30 minutes.
Recovery to me means a slooow, fun ride- just noodling around. No hard effort.
I may go as long as an hour on the trainer, in my lowest gear, at <55% ftp. I find it much easier to maintain this sort of pace on a trainer, rather than outdoors.
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Old 09-05-10, 06:55 PM
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Right after a hard training effort, I recover by spinning 5-10 mins at 100-120 w/very low resistance. The "day after" recovery ride is 1 hr at low resistance and cadence.
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Old 09-05-10, 09:21 PM
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Kinda what I gather is that, for me at least, a recovery ride is mostly an excuse to get out of the house for about a half an hour.
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Old 09-05-10, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gjb483
I may go as long as an hour on the trainer, in my lowest gear, at <55% ftp. I find it much easier to maintain this sort of pace on a trainer, rather than outdoors.
I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but I am curious: what do you suppose that kind of an effort does for you?
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Old 09-05-10, 10:51 PM
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My recovery rides are supposed to be from 72 to 120w; I try and ride them at 90w. Very, very slow and easy. Seems to make a big difference in improving the way I feel.
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Old 09-06-10, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DScott
Maybe I should have said "part of recovery is reducing frequency and duration of workouts, but not intensity."

Recovery includes rest and short, hard workouts, at least according to Friel. Rest can be not riding or riding with low intensity, pretty much the same thing.

You can't think about recovery without considering what you're recovering from, and what you're training for. And the point of it is to maintain fitness as you approach your training peak, while still being fresh enough to maximize your performance for that peak period. If all you did was rest, you'd lose fitness.
You are confusing tapering and recovering.
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Old 09-06-10, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by umd
You are confusing tapering and recovering.
This.
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Old 09-06-10, 07:24 AM
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A wise friend of mine once gave me this advice about recovery rides: "If you're not embarrassed about how slow you're going, then you're not going slow enough." I still keep that in my mind when I go out for a recovery ride.
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Old 09-06-10, 08:00 AM
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On my planned rest days, I'll do a recovery ride if the weather is nice, I feel like riding, and I have the time. Otherwise, it's just a day off the bike. I typically feel much better after a recovery ride if my legs were sore and it's just nice to get out on the bike sometimes without pushing it. As others have mentioned, the hard part is actually riding really slow and easy. If you have a pyschological problem with really slow people passsing you, you will struggle on a recovery ride. A powermeter is a good tool to make sure you aren't pushing it.
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Old 09-06-10, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by umd
You are confusing tapering and recovering.
Possibly. Just trying to point out that recovery is more about the 'why' than the 'what'.
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