Zen and the art of the Recovery Ride.
I’ve always struggled with recovery rides.
I enjoy a lot of things about road cycling, but what attracts me to the sport the most is the adrenaline rush that comes from riding fast. I love pushing myself as hard as I can, and the satisfaction of setting new personal bests (wattage/speed/distance/elevation/whatever) is like crack. So, for me, slowing things down on purpose requires more than a fair amount of self-discipline.
Generally I’ll set off on a recovery ride with the best intentions, but will wind up going too hard anyway. Even when I do manage to finish a recovery ride with an average power output somewhere in Zone 1 (Recovery), it is often a shell game: I’ll ride way too hard in certain sections (I took a KOM the other day on a “Recovery” ride), and then ride extra slow to get my final power average back down into the Recovery Zone. Even then my average power will wind up in the very upper end of Z1, and often I’ll edge into Z2 (Endurance).
That is not how to do a recovery ride. My stubborn refusal to do proper active recoveries is not only amateurish and unintelligent (I can’t plead ignorance–I know better), it has certainly been affecting my overall performance.
So, as I reported yesterday, I’ve been feeling pretty run down this week. I decided yesterday morning that enough is enough: from now on when I do a recovery ride, I’m going to do a real recovery ride. And so I did.
Yesterday’s ride was, by far, the easiest ride I’ve ever done: 51 kilometers (31.5 miles), average speed 25 km/h (15.7 MPH), average power 110 watts, average heart rate 107 BPM.
I never thought I’d be proud of myself for riding slow.
I’ll admit that my ego took a hit when a grandmother on a comfort bike started to blow past me. I probably shouldn’t have thrown an elbow, but when I looked back she was crawling out of the ditch and seemed just fine.
This whole thing is a process. I’ll improve.
I choose to ride every day, and so recovery rides are vital. My body has been telling me that for quite some time, and it’s about time I start listening. From now on my recovery rides will be real recovery rides.
Today I’ve got a ~115 kilometer group ride on tap, and it’s almost time for me to get pedaling. Because I’m still not feeling great I’m probably going to lay back and not start any trouble for a change. So I say now.
Have a great Saturday!