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Junk Miles

Old 09-01-20, 04:45 AM
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Sorg67
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Junk Miles

Riders who are serious about optimizing their riding programs sometimes refer to miles logged without a training benefit as “junk miles”. I suspect a lot of my miles would be “Junk Miles” in the eyes of people like this.

I value the training benefit I get from riding, but I get other benefits from riding.

I am wondering how other view their “junk miles”.
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Old 09-01-20, 04:52 AM
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What are those benefits that you get from your junk miles?
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Old 09-01-20, 06:15 AM
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Like most hobbies, there are many different reasons to bike - that's why there are so many different forums on BikeForums!

Most of my riding hours are not training hours, I don't do racing at all and don't have a power meter on any of my bikes.. But (in normal years...) I'll often try to do some structured training aimed at some long ride (like the 2 day Seattle to Portland 209 mile ride I did in 2019) or a century ride, etc. Then, junk miles are either too short to count as my long ride or too low of power (indoor trainer on Zwift) or heart rate zone.

Those junk rides are still fun and still burn pretty close to the same calories/mile (not per minute) as the "non-junk" miles. On those rides where I did the structured training (pretty much following the Time Crunched Cyclist plans) I really did see improvement - which made the long rides more fun.
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Old 09-01-20, 07:11 AM
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Junk miles are junk miles. That's not to say they don't have any benefit. They're just miles spent not doing what is consistant with your goal.

I rarely spend any time training any more. I did that years ago.

For reference:
Nowadays, if by myself, I generally cruise at a relatively low 110-130bpm heart rate & relatively low 175 watts average & I'll do it 12-20 hours a week. If riding with others, I'll be at about 90bpm.

I do my training on a trainer in the winter. 60-90 minutes, 5 days a week at ~250-300 watts & ~165-185bpm.

I'm probably the odd man out here, but I consider the trainer to be "junk miles" because they are actually quite hard, generally not very fun, & don't really coincide with an outdoor equivalent. The trainer is a lot like droning along on a constant 2% grade.

Miles spent outside are the quality miles & that's what I train for. The camaraderie & the skill/fitness to be prepared, to keep up with & have fresh legs for whoever I'm riding with that day...Those are the quality miles.
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Old 09-01-20, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
What are those benefits that you get from your junk miles?
Enjoyment
Endorphins
Clear my head
Energy for the day after a morning ride
Positive attitude
Good mood
Better sleep
Rheumatoid Arthritis symptom management
Better motivation
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Old 09-01-20, 10:53 AM
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rubiksoval
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
Riders who are serious about optimizing their riding programs sometimes refer to miles logged without a training benefit as “junk miles”. I suspect a lot of my miles would be “Junk Miles” in the eyes of people like this.

I value the training benefit I get from riding, but I get other benefits from riding.

I am wondering how other view their “junk miles”.
I view them as a total waste of time. If I'm going to spend time riding, then I do so to such an extent that I get some training benefit from it.

No time to go tool around pedaling 100 watts for two hours.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:59 PM
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Junk Miles only exist in a training context. "Training" means cycling or working out with the intent of becoming faster and "stronger" as TdF commenters put it, i.e. also more resilient and with more endurance.

Junk Miles usually refers to going at a middling hard pace, a pace which, if done on most rides, will tire one too fast to optimally increase endurance yet make one too tired to do hard efforts. Polarized 80/20 training is an attempt to limit the amount of this intermediate pace.

That said, what a racer would term Junk Miles will definitely increase ability and endurance in most of us duffers. Some of us would have a hard time just doing 100w for 2 hours.

I do a lot of junk miles outdoors on our tandem, but only do 80/20 indoors on my single and resistance rollers. I'm not a racer, but I do like to ride fast. Self-quoting, "If you want to keep your flying license, you have to make the installment payments."
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Old 09-01-20, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
Riders who are serious about optimizing their riding programs sometimes refer to miles logged without a training benefit as “junk miles” ...

I am wondering how other view their “junk miles”.
With cycling, I've never done it for competition nor exclusively for "training" reasons as such. And so, I've always felt that I have usually been serving various other aspects of my mind/body on many rides, even when a good portions of the miles might be deemed by some as "junk."

Back when I used to run hard, years ago, most of us (in the group of decent competitive runners) felt there was no "junk" mileage put in, just varying degrees of focus. One bunch of miles might be focused on the strength aspects; a different batch of miles or route, acceleration; often with the longer and more-sedate miles referred to as "long, slow 'base' miles." Yet, even with the different routes, intensities, focus, we always got something out of it, and felt all of it was geared toward the goal of improvement competitively. (The 'numbers' bore this out, with several of us, as well.) Might well not have been the most-efficient way to go about it, but our choice of varying the mileage content worked.

For me, I do what I can, I push where it feels appropriate to what I'm looking to get out of the session, and I accept the rest as having other benefits despite not peak benefits for the supposedly "primary" training goal of the day.
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Old 09-01-20, 02:01 PM
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Sorg67
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
For me, I do what I can, I push where it feels appropriate to what I'm looking to get out of the session, and I accept the rest as having other benefits despite not peak benefits for the supposedly "primary" training goal of the day.
This pretty well describes my current approach. I am enjoying riding and like to get out as much as I can. I have been considering a tempo ride on Wednesdays and have been doing a long ride on Saturdays. Everything else has been just meandering around as I please.

I have been focusing on taking it especially easy on designated easy days. I had considered those junk miles. But after reading about the Polarized 80/20 program described by Carbonfiberboy , maybe those miles are fine. May be I go hard on Wednesdays, go long on Saturdays and go easy the rest of the time and maybe none of them are junk miles.

Not that it really matters that much to me. I like being on the bike.
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Old 09-02-20, 08:18 AM
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To me, junk miles would be a time that you SHOULD be riding a specific way but you choose not to do so and do something detrimental to your training plan. Like, you should have taken an off day or ridden Z1......but you went out KOM hunting......then the next day you couldn't hit your targets because of your poor choice. Or, you should have done those tough 3x3 intervals on Wednesday but instead decided to go ride the Zone Zero beer crawl ride instead.

Junk miles are NOT to be confused with "rider's choice" or "Z1" days. There's a reason to take time to do what you want sometimes. Mentally or physically. If you're in a training plan, just be sure to work such days into the plan so that you don't derail the plan.

If you're not in a training plan, I don't think there's a concept of "junk miles". You don't have a goal or plan, so what is there to derail or sabotage by riding a different way than normal?

If you don't formally "train", it's just poor planning if you go out and hammer around the evening before a really long group ride the next morning. That's not "junk miles". It just is what it is.
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Old 09-02-20, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
To me, junk miles would be a time that you SHOULD be riding a specific way but you choose not to do so and do something detrimental to your training plan. Like, you should have taken an off day or ridden Z1......but you went out KOM hunting......then the next day you couldn't hit your targets because of your poor choice. Or, you should have done those tough 3x3 intervals on Wednesday but instead decided to go ride the Zone Zero beer crawl ride instead.

Junk miles are NOT to be confused with "rider's choice" or "Z1" days. There's a reason to take time to do what you want sometimes. Mentally or physically. If you're in a training plan, just be sure to work such days into the plan so that you don't derail the plan.

If you're not in a training plan, I don't think there's a concept of "junk miles". You don't have a goal or plan, so what is there to derail or sabotage by riding a different way than normal?

If you don't formally "train", it's just poor planning if you go out and hammer around the evening before a really long group ride the next morning. That's not "junk miles". It just is what it is.
Am I right to take this to mean that unless you have very specific training goals for a specific session - targeting specific adaptations and training stress levels for instance - and the miles interfered with that, then they aren't "junk miles"? That's a little more specific and definite than what you wrote, but I can't see worrying about junk miles at all unless you have a detailed training schedule. Aside from pure slacking, which has its own rewards.
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Old 09-02-20, 09:19 AM
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Sorg67
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I think there is a lot of grey between being 100% compliant with a training plan and having no training plan at all.

The interesting thing I have learned from this discussion is that the miles that may interfere the most with optimal training are miles that are not sufficiently challenging to produce a training benefit but are sufficiently challenging to interfere with recovery from a hard ride.

I like to ride hill repeats. But I think I should skip those on most rides and have designated hill repeat training days.
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Old 09-02-20, 11:58 AM
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I don't think you need a training plan to train towards performance. At some point you basically figure out what you need to do and when in order to achieve a specific result.

I haven't used a training plan in 5-6 years simply because every time I made one, it'd get derailed within the first week. I think it's pretty much impossible to have an optimal training plan if you're a working adult with additional responsibiliites, and it creates a lot of undue stress that probably isn't needed.

If I'm too tired or too busy, I take a day off. If I feel good, I do a workout. If I don't feel good enough for a workout, I just do z2-z3. Works out pretty well for me with no unnecessary stress. I rode hard Sat and Sun and Monday went out thinking I'd ride z2 but I felt good and got in a solid hill repeat day. Yesterday at dawn I was going to do a sweetspot ride (low z4) but did z2 instead because I wasn't feeling up to it (due primarily to my 3 year old getting up at 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning), but then went back out in the evening and felt better and did sweetspot then.

There's no way I could plan any of that, but I'm still capable of getting in key workouts at some point during the week/s.
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Old 09-02-20, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't think you need a training plan to train towards performance. At some point you basically figure out what you need to do and when in order to achieve a specific result.

I haven't used a training plan in 5-6 years simply because every time I made one, it'd get derailed within the first week. I think it's pretty much impossible to have an optimal training plan if you're a working adult with additional responsibiliites, and it creates a lot of undue stress that probably isn't needed.

If I'm too tired or too busy, I take a day off. If I feel good, I do a workout. If I don't feel good enough for a workout, I just do z2-z3. Works out pretty well for me with no unnecessary stress. I rode hard Sat and Sun and Monday went out thinking I'd ride z2 but I felt good and got in a solid hill repeat day. Yesterday at dawn I was going to do a sweetspot ride (low z4) but did z2 instead because I wasn't feeling up to it (due primarily to my 3 year old getting up at 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning), but then went back out in the evening and felt better and did sweetspot then.

There's no way I could plan any of that, but I'm still capable of getting in key workouts at some point during the week/s.
That is pretty much how I roll too. But I think having an understanding of optimal training principles is helpful for making day to day decisions for how you want to ride.

After D-day was a success but went very different from the plan, Eisenhower said; "plans are useless but planning is invaluable>
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Old 09-02-20, 06:00 PM
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I typically consider junk miles to be rides with no purpose, objective, or goal.

Having fun is a perfectly acceptable objective!
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Old 09-04-20, 08:53 AM
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The only junk miles are when you force yourself to ride when you should be recovering. Easy rides are NOT junk miles. You don't need to push it at a certain level to have gains, every mile you logged is like money in the bank, unless you're doing it when your body truly needs resting.

Check out this video, it makes a great point on how many of us (I use to be one of them) cyclists, runners push it way too hard, during all of our rides. I still do speed work and good hard rides, but I also learned that I need to take it easy on much of my rides.

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Old 09-04-20, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
The only junk miles are when you force yourself to ride when you should be recovering. Easy rides are NOT junk miles. You don't need to push it at a certain level to have gains, every mile you logged is like money in the bank, unless you're doing it when your body truly needs resting.
]
I think part of the issue is the concept of an "easy ride". Too easy of a ride is certainly not going to improve fitness. You don't have to push it at a certain high level, certainly, but you do have to push it to a certain level.

Once you've achieved a baseline amount of fitness, Z1 rides are really not doing anything and certainly aren't money in the bank, at least compared to what a bit more intensity will get you.. Repeatedly doing 1-3 hour rides at z1 is a waste of time from a performance training standpoint.

Powermeters really shine the light on that aspect.
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Old 09-04-20, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I think part of the issue is the concept of an "easy ride". Too easy of a ride is certainly not going to improve fitness. You don't have to push it at a certain high level, certainly, but you do have to push it to a certain level.

Once you've achieved a baseline amount of fitness, Z1 rides are really not doing anything and certainly aren't money in the bank, at least compared to what a bit more intensity will get you.. Repeatedly doing 1-3 hour rides at z1 is a waste of time from a performance training standpoint.

Powermeters really shine the light on that aspect.
This is where we get into the very gray area. What's too easy? I could go for a run or a ride at a ridiculously slow pace and yes that will not add to my cardio/muscular benefit. Although, you could make a point that if anything it will add to other things, just one example, toughening up the butt, but other things also that become sore from cycling. Not a big issue for those of us that have been cycling for years, but this is very important things to build up for newer riders.

However, when I said "easy rides", I wasn't thinking of ridiculously SLOW rides, simply because most of us find it too difficult to do ridiculously slow rides. I would guess most of us would obtain at least 60% max H/R during an "easy ride". And that is money in the bank. Just watch the video I posted above and here's another one by the coach Jack Daniels. If nothing else, easy rides (not ridiculously slow rides) allows the body to recover and at the same time provide cardio work.

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Old 09-04-20, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
This is where we get into the very gray area. What's too easy? I could go for a run or a ride at a ridiculously slow pace and yes that will not add to my cardio/muscular benefit. Although, you could make a point that if anything it will add to other things, just one example, toughening up the butt, but other things also that become sore from cycling. Not a big issue for those of us that have been cycling for years, but this is very important things to build up for newer riders.

However, when I said "easy rides", I wasn't thinking of ridiculously SLOW rides, simply because most of us find it too difficult to do ridiculously slow rides. I would guess most of us would obtain at least 60% max H/R during an "easy ride". And that is money in the bank. Just watch the video I posted above and here's another one by the coach Jack Daniels. If nothing else, easy rides (not ridiculously slow rides) allows the body to recover and at the same time provide cardio work.
Z1 is too easy. It doesn't have anything to do with speed. I can do 180 watts in z1 and still average 18-19 mph, but that doesn't mean I got anything from that ride. And if such a ride comprised a good chunk of my regular weekly riding, not only would I not gain fitness, but I'd lose it.

The kicker with hr is the amount of variance it allows in power output. You may average 60% max hr but coast or soft pedal for 30 minutes of a 2 hour ride (so lots of "junk time") and not even have a big change in hr (the unfitter you are, the higher and longer your hr is likely to remain elevated). Examining power output makes a big difference.

In any case, comparing hr across both running and cycling really isn't that applicable. You're not getting all of those breaks when you run that most people are getting in riding.
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Old 09-04-20, 12:07 PM
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Interesting debate between @work4bike and @rubiksoval . Keep going. I am learning from both of you.
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Old 09-04-20, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Z1 is too easy. It doesn't have anything to do with speed. I can do 180 watts in z1 and still average 18-19 mph, but that doesn't mean I got anything from that ride. And if such a ride comprised a good chunk of my regular weekly riding, not only would I not gain fitness, but I'd lose it.

The kicker with hr is the amount of variance it allows in power output. You may average 60% max hr but coast or soft pedal for 30 minutes of a 2 hour ride (so lots of "junk time") and not even have a big change in hr (the unfitter you are, the higher and longer your hr is likely to remain elevated). Examining power output makes a big difference.

In any case, comparing hr across both running and cycling really isn't that applicable. You're not getting all of those breaks when you run that most people are getting in riding.

OK, first lets make some things clear, partly in case I misunderstood the OP's intentions.
We're not talking about training for a race where results are of primary consideration and thus we have a relatively short term training regimine that we must adhere to. If we were speaking to that, than I would retract my stance on “junk miles”.

I assumed what we're talking about here is obtaining/maintaining general (or even kickass) fitness level. In that case, there are no junk miles, assuming you're not riding at Ridiculously Slow Pace, which a vast majority of people don't, because that's painful in a different way.

Also, speaking about a given wattage, heart rate or speed is useless. 180 watts for you is totally different than for others. I'm not advocating H/R training, nor am I advocating the MAF method of training. I only use % of HR to best illustrate intensity level.

I agree, comparing specific HR levels between cycling and running is not comparable. I know from my own experience I feel like I'm working harder at 150bpm while running, as compared to cycling at 150bmp.

In your first sentence you said this: “Z1 is too easy. It doesn't have anything to do with speed. I can do 180 watts in z1 and still average 18-19 mph, but that doesn't mean I got anything from that ride. And if such a ride comprised a good chunk of my regular weekly riding, not only would I not gain fitness, but I'd lose it.”

I agree that if all one did was ride at a Z1 level and did nothing else, eventually they would plateau in their fitness and that would be bad – the body does need stimulation.

However, I think you would be surprised at how much you could benefit from riding at around 65% of your max HR a little more often and I know it doesn't feel like you're doing anything, but it's very important for building capillary density and mitochondria, which only come about from training volume; your volume is significantly reduced if you're training at high lactate levels.

This isn't coming from me. The first video I posted in post #16 isn't just some guy blabbing. It's from Dr. Stephen Seiler, who studies and helps professional athletes obtain their best fitness. And I know, we're not profesional athletes, but as he stated in the video above in post #16, these tactics of increased easy rides transfer to us normal joe's.

Below is another link with a talk from Dr. Stephen Seiler, but here's an interesting excerpt from the link

“Another thing volume in the specific task helps do is build capillary density and mitochondria extent in the trained muscles, blood flow and contractile capacity of the heart, and increased fatty acid oxidation metabolism. Not only do you get better neurologically at performing the task, but the muscles you use get better at doing it for long times.”
https://willworkforadventure.com/201...-hard-stop-it/






.
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Old 09-04-20, 03:57 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post

However, I think you would be surprised at how much you could benefit from riding at around 65% of your max HR a little more often and I know it doesn't feel like you're doing anything, but it's very important for building capillary density and mitochondria, which only come about from training volume; your volume is significantly reduced if you're training at high lactate levels.

.
You went from 60-65%, but regardless, nah.

And your idea about mitochondria doesn't match common power-based training knowledge:

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Old 09-04-20, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
OK, first lets make some things clear, partly in case I misunderstood the OP's intentions.
We're not talking about training for a race where results are of primary consideration and thus we have a relatively short term training regimine that we must adhere to. If we were speaking to that, than I would retract my stance on “junk miles”.

I assumed what we're talking about here is obtaining/maintaining general (or even kickass) fitness level. In that case, there are no junk miles, assuming you're not riding at Ridiculously Slow Pace, which a vast majority of people don't, because that's painful in a different way.

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Huh?

Riders who are serious about optimizing their riding programs
Optimizing is optimizing. Doesn't matter if you're pinning on a number or not.

If you want to go ride around for the hell of it, then that's all great. But there are certainly "junk miles" in the sense that there is riding that does not optimize a program.
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Old 09-04-20, 04:03 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
This isn't coming from me. The first video I posted in post #16 isn't just some guy blabbing. It's from Dr. Stephen Seiler, who studies and helps professional athletes obtain their best fitness. And I know, we're not profesional athletes, but as he stated in the video above in post #16 , these tactics of increased easy rides transfer to us normal joe's.

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Seller is the most misunderstood and incorrectly quoted person on the bike internet.

Polarized training is touted by everyone who thinks they've stumbled on to the newest training secret, except that hardly anyone actually understands it, and even less actually use it in cycling.

Pretty inapplicable and very much at odds with other well-known cycling and running training gurus.
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Old 09-04-20, 04:22 PM
  #25  
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Thanks for the on-going discussion. Very interesting.

I do not know whether the “polarized” training program is optimal or if I even understand it. But for a casual rider like me who wants some training benefit but also just likes to ride my bike it has a lot of appeal to have two hard rides a week and a bunch of easy rides.

From listening to the arguments it seems that such a program would give me a lot of benefit. Not train me to be a competitive racer, but a solidly fit old geezer.

Do you think with such a program, I can ride every day as long as do not go hard enough to interfere too much with my hard days?

I like to ride everyday. I think riding every day is good for my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptom management. It seems to help me avoid needing to take anti-inflammatory drugs. I have also reduced my dosage of Methotrexate which is the primary disease modifier I use.

I attribute much of the RA benefit I am experiencing to my weekly long ride. But I think the daily rides help too.
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