There's been a lot of talk about aerobic endurance, power and heart rate, ERG mode and zones. Yep, this is all important. Training in the correct zone is SO important. We don’t want to be wasting our valuable training time riding around in Recovery and not crushing ourselves every time we ride, just to get a bit closer to the QOM on our local 2-minute climb. We need to learn to feel. We need to learn to listen to our bodies and back away from all the technology sometimes. Every once in a while we need to collect data to be reviewed later, rather than obsessing over it mid ride. We need to learn what riding at endurance feels like. We need to practice!
Riding on the smart trainer is an awesome way to experience this feel, to learn what 90 minutes at endurance feels like, to practice. For the past five weeks, you've been doing just that. Now it's time to trust yourself and take it outside.
Let’s say your schedule gives you a 3-hour aerobic endurance ride and the sun is shining —> RIDE OUTSIDE!
When riding outside, you're going to experience terrain that requires you to push the power a bit to get to the top of the hill, and as you descend over the backside of said hill, your power will decrease. Did you do it wrong? Are you not riding at endurance? Are you outside the correct zone?
To answer these questions, return to the intent of the workout: aerobic endurance riding. If we look at Classic training zones, the Endurance zone is 56-76%, a wide range. Closer to 56%, you're closer to recovery, while above 65%, you're closer to aerobic power. As you inch toward 76%, you're close to tempo.
The point is there are NO BOLD BLACK LINES separating training zones. They're fluid and a bit fuzzy, just like the terrain. As you ride, you’ll adjust your cadence as you navigate the terrain to keep things at an endurance effort. Sometimes you will creep into tempo, sometimes you will sink into recovery...and guess what? That's okay. That's riding bikes!
After the ride, look at your VI and IF. Variability Index (VI) is the ratio of normalized power to average power of the ride. The closer VI is to 1, the more continuously aerobic the effort. Intensity Factor is the ratio of your normalized power to your FTP. When we look at these two metrics together, we can determine the aerobic benefit/impact of the ride.
Takeaway: Learning to feel your training zones gives you the confidence and freedom to ride outside and trust you're getting the intended training benefit from your workout.