What are you trying to achieve?
Whenever I work with riders, one of the key questions I try to get them thinking about is – “What are you trying to achieve from this ride?”
For a “recovery ride”, the answer may seems obvious, it’s to enhance or facilitate recovery but, for a recovery ride to be worthwhile, it’s also about what it shouldn’t do and that’s to add any additional fatigue.
This is where many riders go wrong and, if they’re really being honest with themselves about what they’re trying to achieve from the ride, it’s actually just about logging a few extra kilometres or chalking another ride up on Strava.
Can a recovery ride ever be useful?
A genuine recovery ride is do-able and can serve a definite purpose. There’s no doubt that, after a long day’s travelling or the day after a big ride, a gentle spin can put a bit of life back in your legs. To achieve this though without adding unnecessary fatigue and/or junk miles does take a surprising amount of discipline and often some ego management.
What should a recovery ride be like?
It should be 30-60 minutes long and has to be super-easy. That means pancake flat and strict Zone 1 for both heart-rate and power. You should be imagining that your cranks are made out of glass and, if you push them too hard, they’ll snap. Grannies on shopping bikes should be overtaking you and you should be spinning your legs in the small chainring.
The Ego has landed
Be honest, can you see your ego handling doing a ride like that? Judging by how many “Recovery Rides” you see uploaded to Strava that are predominately Zone 2 or even Zone 3, I’d argue that for a lot of riders, not. Such sessions definitely won’t be facilitating recovery and all you’ll be adding to your training are meaningless kilometres and unnecessary fatigue with practically zero training effect.
The controlled environment of the indoor trainer can make achieving a genuine recovery ride more do-able but again be wary of that ego creeping in. Will you be able to resist chasing that virtual wheel or upping your pace for a sprint section or KOM? Using Erg Mode set to hold you in Zone 1 is probably the best solution if you don’t think you can trust yourself.
Do something else instead
Even with all the recovery ride boxes ticked, the niggling question does still remain, “could I be doing something better with this time that genuinely aids my recovery?” Maybe a bit of yoga, some Pilates, some time on the foam roller or even just chilling?
Usually a Hotchillee Premium Member benefit, weekly Yoga and Pilates 45-minute classes for cyclists will be free & available to all in November. Sign up through the Rides & Activities tab on our website.
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Glen is usually behind the scenes making sure that the Hotchillee Ride Captains and event participants have fully functioning bicycles to ride but he occasionally makes an appearance in front of the camera to share his wisdom. If he’s not fixing or building bikes he’ll be out riding in #SweetSussex. If you want to know anything about Cyclocross, Glen is the man to ask.
Consultant with British Cycling and author of the Road Cycling Performance Manual. Lover of cobbles, gravel and Siberian Pine – not so keen on climbs! Nik is the author of all of the Hotchillee Training Plans, Zwift workout files and regularly posts tips and advice on the Hotchillee app. He’s also the evil genius behind the now infamous Hotchillee Gain Train.
Adele has worked within the health and fitness industry for over 25 years starting with a ballet and dance background herself, she has progressed to training and teaching all styles of fitness and offers Pilates, barre & yoga. As a keen runner, Adele appreciates the need for a strong healthy body and mind and incorporates many elements of Pilates, yoga and barre into her own training to ensure her strength and stamina remain.