Recovery rides are extremely slow and often overlooked - this type of riding is very important in a training program as it helps in “flushing” your system, increase circulation, keep your body in a rhythm of training and maintain suppleness in muscles.
The body does not build endurance while we are exercising. It's the active recovery ride (and rest days), the period after your workout when you easy up on the training and give the body time it needs to repair and rebuild itself, making it stronger.
Pushing yourself without recovery.
Too many hard days with too little recovery, and your fitness will likely plateau or decline if you continue, you will increase the risk of being over-trained – further reduction performance, constant fatigue, weight change, increased thirst, morning heart rate changes, muscle soreness, swollen lymph glands, diarrhea, injury, infections, decreased training heart rate, lethargy, depression, poor concentration, changes in sleep pattern, irritability, decreased libido, clumsiness, sluggishness and or sugar cravings. The body is also more vulnerable to infections and injury at this time.
Do this ride at least once a week (if you're a beginner, then two to three a week) and or after a hard workout or race, keep in mind that when you do this ride that it should really slow and all about recovery. If ride above the recommended target range for heart rate or power then you are riding too hard to recover properly, and not hard enough to train.
RPE is 1-2, an easy spin where you are applying light pressure on the pedals, and with a minimal sensation of leg effort or fatigue. During Zone 1 training your average power is below 55% of FTP and or heart rate is below 68% of lactate threshold heart rate or below 60% of maximum heart rate. I tend to guide the session by “feel” and occasionally taking a glimpse at heart rate and or power when doing a recovery ride. Duration for recovery rides are generally 45 to 90 minutes and may be longer depending on the level at which you compete.
How to do a 90 minute active recovery ride.
Warm up by riding easy for 15 minutes.
Next ride for 60 minutes in the recommended target range - power is below 55% of FTP and or heart rate is below 68% of lactate threshold heart rate or below 60% of maximum heart rate. Your cadence should be smooth and self-selected, what feels comfortable to you. A cadence range of 90 to 95 rpm is recommended when doing recovery ride, however I have found that is easier to stay within Zone 1 heart rate or power when using a self-selected cadence range.
Finish off with 15 minutes of cool down at a super easy pace. And then go and get yourself a recovery meal, snack or shake.
Alternative to an active recovery ride.
Use your feet, sometimes all our body needs is a walk. This simple form of active recovery also increases blood flow which will speed up the inflow of nutrients reducing stiffness and soreness. Then there is a mental benefit to walking – just being able to get out and slow down, look around and breath will clear your head.
Another alternative and a personal favourite is staying off my feet and being lazy for a few hours.
That is it, thank you for reading, I hope you found it to be a useful resource.