The Case for A Recovery Ride
It’s important for every cyclist, even professional ones, to take recovery days.
Pushing your muscles all the time without letting them have a break will actually make it harder for you to reach the cycling goals that you have.
Recovery Rides are Essential to Improvement
Though it may seem like taking a recovery day would set you back, it’s actually an important part of reaching your cycling goals. When you go slower and let your muscles have a break, it gives them an opportunity to build up.
As part of their training, some cyclists are instructed by their coaches to take a break for a few weeks or even a few months. This break is important because it gives the muscles an opportunity to build up. Without this break, the muscles would not be able to handle the training the cyclist is putting them through.
When you train, you’re essentially putting your body through a lot of stress and causing muscle damage. However, it’s during the recovery period that your muscles repair and adapt to become stronger. This is why the same workout feels easier the next time you do it.
It can be tricky to find the right balance between rest and training. If you have too many rest days, you might not make any progress. But if you have too few, you could end up over-training.
So, what does recovery cycling look like?
Standardized training plans usually take into account rest days, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different. Age, cycling experience, work, and family stresses, general health, and how close or far you are from your goal race can all play a role in how effective a training plan is.
A recovery ride is a ride dedicated to riding easy and just spinning the legs to get the blood flowing. The increased blood flow without the higher stress on the muscles from riding hard will help to enhance and speed recovery. Proper execution of a recovery ride includes maintaining a light heart rate and easy breathing. It is important to listen to your body and take recovery days when needed. Recovery rides are a crucial part of any training plan and should not be skipped.
A recovery ride is important because it helps to enhance and speed up the recovery process. When you are feeling particularly tired from a day or two or hard riding, a recovery ride can be just what you need. You may not feel like getting on the bike at first, but by the end of the ride, you will feel great. This is not only good for your muscles, but also for your mind.
A recovery ride is easy in theory; just ride easy, right? Well, yes, but there’s more to it than that. You should make a concerted effort to spin your legs more than you normally would. This will help your muscles recover from the strain of hard riding. Additionally, recovery rides are great for your mental health.
When you’re going up any climbs, it’s important to go extra slow and spin as easy as you can. If you need to get out of the saddle, do it carefully and try to keep your heart rate and/or power down.
In order to recover from your rides, your recovery ride should be at least thirty minutes long if you ride more than fifteen hours per week, and can be up to one and a half hours.
When picking a route for your recovery ride, keep in mind that you want to take it easy. This means finding a route that has fewer challenging climbs than you’re used to.
When you’re looking for routes to ride, in addition to flatter roads, look for roads or trails that will help you relax and clear your mind. These routes should have few cars or other riders so that you can avoid going slow on a busy road. Instead, find the quiet country road or scenic bike path and enjoy the ride.
Your mind and body can easily fall into a routine when you’re riding on the same routes regularly. If you’re looking to put in a recovery ride, here’s a tip to help you get out of your fast and strong effort routine.
Ensure it is a Recovery Ride
If you’re looking to add a recovery ride into your routine, great! Just be sure that you’re not going too hard. It might seem counterintuitive, but around 85% of cyclists go too hard on their recovery rides. The purpose of a recovery ride is to, well, recover. So aim to join the 15% club and take it easy out there.
An excellent and enjoyable way to make sure that you ride slowly and don’t go harder than you should is to ride with someone else who is also doing a recovery ride. You should also include a stop at a coffee shop or a country store. This will help the ride to be more focused on conversation and enjoyment, rather than going hard.
The best way to make sure that you don’t over-exert yourself is to keep your heart rate at 60-70% of your maximum and your power at 50% of your power threshold.
To make sure that your ride is a recovery ride, ride with another cyclist who isn’t in the same shape as you are. This way, you won’t be tempted to push yourself harder than you should. Additionally, riding with new cyclists can serve this purpose while also motivating and inspiring them. If they put in an effort to race you or zoom up a climb, let them go. You are on a recovery ride, not racing.
When Should You Ride a Recovery Ride?
If you want your body to recover from the stresses of training and racing, you should work recovery rides into your training schedule once or twice a week. Ideally, you should do these rides immediately after or before hard training days or races.
Your body is programmed to try to recover as much as possible when it gets the chance, so if you have a day off the bike, your body grabs this opportunity and will often go into shutdown mode. However, by working a recovery ride into your schedule, you can help your body to recover more quickly and efficiently, rather than letting it recover on its own. This way, you can be back on the bike and riding at your best more quickly.
After the Recovery Ride
You probably already know that a short five-minute set of stretching exercises before a ride can do wonders for your performance and protect you from injury, but what many people don’t realize is that it’s just as important to stretch after a ride. Stretching after a ride helps to maintain your flexibility and aids in recovery.
Make sure you record those miles on Strava (or some equivalent), even if you’re taking it easy. You do not want your weekly or monthly totals to be short on miles. Turn on your Garmin or Wahoo Element. Wear your heart rate monitor. All this data will help you look back and see that you have taken the appropriate recovery days.