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Recovery Ride - cadence vs. HR

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Recovery Ride - cadence vs. HR

Old 05-25-15, 08:29 PM
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Recovery Ride - cadence vs. HR

How do I keep my HR low on a recovery ride? Go slow and mash? I believe high RPM equals high HR.

A "recovery ride" for me means HR under 119. That's very difficult - I always go over that on any ascent.
So I aim for an "average" HR under 119.

I've been riding every other day, which mostly works. Today I tried a recovery ride late (left @ 4:30PM):
  • 30 miles, average ascent/mile = 44'). That's a typical ride (last 8 rides, 24-38 miles, 38-54'/mile average)
  • AHR was 120, max of 133 (but only a few times over 128). Typically that'd be 130 and 150.
  • Average cadence 69 (typically 72-77).
  • A MPH about 5% slower.
  • Yesterday's ride was only 25, routine speed, 50'/mile, 129/150 - nothing special, but I was tired and my legs still sore this AM. I have a club ride on Wednesday, so tonight's ride was an experiment that still gives me a day's rest.
I.e., not much difference. The ride was easier than normal, my HR recovered more quickly after I stopped, but my legs feel weary.

Are "recovery rides" pointless? Did I make it pointless by going too hard? How can I go "softer"?

Forget keeping my HR below 119 and accept the goal is to keep my AHR below 119?

Thanks, as always.

PS - I've only ridden 10 times since my total knee replacement. I got cleared, after numerous complications, on May 6. I am 69 and fat (230), but I've ridden quite a bit in the last 4 years. My endurance seems surprisingly OK for this stage, my average speed is down by about 1 MPH, my average cadence is about 5 points low.
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Old 05-25-15, 08:58 PM
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Normally, riding every other day you shouldn't need recovery rides. If you have a club ride on Wed you could have gone hard again today and then done a recovery ride tomorrow. But a recovery ride shouldn't be 30 miles if that's your normal distance. It should be more like 30-60 min of easy spinning. Worry less about your HR and go easy on your legs. Spin the easiest gear you have going up the hills and just go slower.

The days you don't ride are your real recovery days. Days like today are just low intensity ride days.
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Old 05-25-15, 09:07 PM
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Recovery rides are not pointless. They improve blood flow to muscles that you have worked hard, which accelerates your recovery. They are also an opportunity for more "practice"- ie neuromuscular training, so I use them to practice my high cadence pedaling. This is one of my few chances to spend an hour pedaling at a cadence >100. I also use them to spend more time in the drops, this is about getting your body to adapt comfortably to different body postures. For me, I try to spend more time in the drops because more aero=free speed for no extra power output. I'm an endurance cyclist, so on long events free speed is always welcome. Recovery rides are also fun and easy, nice contrast to hard training days on the bike.

I have a coach and my instructions for a recovery ride is to keep it below X watts; because terrain varies, it's totally fine with my coach if I have little power spikes that are over target. My average power for the entire ride just needs to be below target. I have no heart rate instructions but I might hear about it if I wound up in zone 3 during the ride. Typically I'm in HR zone 1/2. I'm sure zone 1 is better, but I've never heard negative feedback on the zone 2 stuff on one of my recovery rides.

My recovery rides are to be performed at high cadence, for me >90, for 1 hour. I keep my power low by keeping it in an easy gear. I also have the instructions that they are always optional- rest is fine instead at my discretion.

I have had a very big 10 days on the bike- a big training ride, then a week later, a big event ride. I think I've actually had 4 recovery rides in 10 days, that's some kind of record for me. I like really hard work on the bike but I'm happy to have had the recovery rides too- that's 4 more hours adapting to riding in the drops, 4 hours of high cadence pedaling, 4 hours of easy.
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Old 05-25-15, 11:03 PM
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Recovery rides are to recover, not work. If they're work, they're not recovery. Everyone is different about what's a good recovery ride for them. You have to experiment and see what suits you. You should be less tired the next day, much less tired, not more.

I can only do real recovery rides on my rollers. Outdoors is too hard because everywhere is uphill and my self-control is abominable. For me, it's 1 hr. in zone 1, fairly steady, nothing over. I'll vary the cadence a bit, maybe 83 to 90. I keep my HR below 105. My resting is about 46 and my standing about 62. My LTHR is about 143.

It is said that if little girls with pink bikes and streamers are passing you, you're doing it right.

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Old 05-26-15, 05:39 AM
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Trust your own body to tell you if a recovery ride was worthwhile. Did you feel better the next day? Did it seem easier than usual at the time?

FWIW, your cadence is pretty slow. Try keeping it over 80 for a few rides and see how that works for you.

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Old 05-26-15, 05:49 AM
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Um, in my opinion, both. Mainly because you are recovering from a knee surgery so mashing all the time is probably bad. So bring the cadence up as much as you can comfortably without letting the hr get too high.

I don't know what your max hr is but from what you've stated, 120 sounds fine. I do the same and vary between high and low rpm to help keep the hr down. But don't freak if it drifts up because of a rise in the road, that's natural. Just watch it and help it come down any way you can.

I let mine go as high as 150, but I don't hold it there because that's zone 3 for me.
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Old 05-26-15, 07:31 AM
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Well, I just looked at the data for a typical recovery ride for me.

One hour
Ave cadence 102
Ave HR 124 (zone 2 for me, I spent 92% of my ride in zone 2, 1% in zone 3 and 7% in zone 1)
Ave power 93 watts (my instructions are too keep ave power below 100 watts)

One comment I will make is that I recover very well. I can sustain much higher training loads than many people. I don't know if this is just how I'm built or because my training & recovery techniques are more effective. I'm not saying its always good to be able to sustain a high training load, left to your own devices you tend to do more than you should. Rest is hugely important & I get way more rest in my schedule in the past six months since I've been working with my coach. All I'm saying is that I've found what works for me very well, whether that would work as well for you is unknown.

Last edited by Heathpack; 05-26-15 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 05-26-15, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack
Well, I just looked at the data for a typical recovery ride for me.

One hour
Ave cadence 102
Ave HR 124 (zone 2 for me, I spent 92% of my ride in zone 2, 1% in zone 3 and 7% in zone 1)
Ave power 93 watts (my instructions are too keep ave power below 100 watts)

One comment I will make is that I recover very well. I can sustain much higher training loads than many people. I don't know if this is just how I'm built or because my training & recovery techniques are more effective. I'm not saying its always good to be able to sustain a high training load, left to your own devices you tend to do more than you should. Rest is hugely important & I get way more rest in my schedule in the past six months since I've been working with my coach. All I'm saying is that I've found what works for me very well, whether that would work as well for you is unknown.
Same HR as you on my recovery rides except my power seems to be around 150 and below. I commute 4 days (20miles one way) and do 2 days of intervals, two days recovery.
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Old 05-27-15, 12:27 AM
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Indeed, recovery rides are pointless - at least there is no science to support them. One thing you hear is that it helps the blood wash lactic acid out of the muscle (this is what I thought) but one group actually asked that question and there was no difference between doing nothing and a so-called recovery ride. Most magazine articles (Bicycling et al) tell you a recovery ride is absolutely essential for peak performance but never tell you why although some say it "gets the blood moving" whatever that means (mine is always moving).

Joe Friel says not to do them (unless you are an elite performance athlete and can read your body) and the best recovery (after a hard ride) is a passive rest (couch) day to let your body recover.

Carmichael states there is no science (weak at best) to support a recovery ride but if you want to do them then take it very easy with low cadence.

There you have it - trust and error is your only hope for sorting it out for yourself.
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Old 05-27-15, 04:54 AM
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Use a smaller gear.

80% of my rides are "junk" recovery rides.

[h=4]CONCLUSION:[/h]POL resulted in the greatest improvements in most key variables of endurance performance in well-trained endurance athletes. THR or HVT did not lead to further improvements in performance related variables
Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training. - PubMed - NCBI
Joe Friel - Polarized Training Update
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Old 05-27-15, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Gyrine
Indeed, recovery rides are pointless - at least there is no science to support them. One thing you hear is that it helps the blood wash lactic acid out of the muscle (this is what I thought) but one group actually asked that question and there was no difference between doing nothing and a so-called recovery ride. Most magazine articles (Bicycling et al) tell you a recovery ride is absolutely essential for peak performance but never tell you why although some say it "gets the blood moving" whatever that means (mine is always moving).

Joe Friel says not to do them (unless you are an elite performance athlete and can read your body) and the best recovery (after a hard ride) is a passive rest (couch) day to let your body recover.

Carmichael states there is no science (weak at best) to support a recovery ride but if you want to do them then take it very easy with low cadence.

There you have it - trust and error is your only hope for sorting it out for yourself.
I think that this is an overly simplistic take on recovery rides, one that just addresses one of the purposes of recovery.

Basically, to build muscle, you must break down muscle. You do this by riding hard. Then taking it easy, the muscle building happens during the recovery period.

One of the things you want to do as a cyclist is build muscle. So looking at only this factor, the best recovery is rest- ie off the bike and off your feet.

However, building muscle is not the only thing you do to improve as a cyclist. You work both high and low end aerobic conditioning, become more metabolically efficient (ie build capillaries, mitochondria, etc), become more adept/skilled (ie your motor pathways in the nervous system become more "facilitated" or practiced), your body adapts to different positions, and you manage your emotions/happiness on the bike.

You can work all of these things on a recovery ride except the high-end VOmax type of aerobic conditioning. If you ride easy, keep your power output low, you don't breakdown muscle or interfere with your body's ability to build muscle during the recovery period.

So taking all of that into consideration, IMO it's almost always better for me to do a recovery ride when I'm given the option. (I am also assigned rest days, 1-2 per week, and riding is a "No" for me on those days.). The only thing that would make me skip a recovery ride is if I didn't feel like it- ie the mental aspect of things. I really like to ride my bike, so I can't recall that happening. But if it ever did, I'd just stay off the bike that day.
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