At What Point Have I "Ruined" My LSD Ride?

I’ve heard a lot about Long Slow Distance rides in my past year at Fast Talk Labs, so I know how important it is for me to train my body at a lower heart rate for a long ride.

However, after a year of riding with zero structure, I’m finding myself surprisingly resistant to riding at a low HR for such a long, 5-6 hour ride. I love to ride in the mountains on a Saturday, but even at very low effort, slow pedaling up climbs, my heart rate jumps up easily 20-40 bpm.

First question:
If my heart rate goes this high, what should I do? Stop to get it down and then continue slower? Or keep going, but try to go slower, still causing my HR to go even higher?

The next question is:
How high is too high for my heart rate to go and “ruin” the training adaptation benefit I’m seeking to gain from the ride?

Have I “ruined” my ride if this HR jump happens on the first climb? Is it still important to try to get my heart rate back down and finish the ride low? Or is the benefit of the ride blown? Does it no longer matter how hard I finish?

Here’s an example of a ride where this happened to me. I foresee similar Saturdays in my future and want to make the best choices possible. This was supposed to be a ride at 131 BPM. But there’s a big hill near where I live, so 13 minutes out of the gate I was past that:

And then at the top of the Logan Mill climb, it jumped over 170:

Thanks in advance for your answers and input!

Happy Riding!


i find myself doing this mental math a lot. I’m very curious to see what the coaches say. I bet it’ll be, “it depends” :joy:

with my non-exercise sciency brain, i use a more outcome-based approach. I say that if it is mostly below LT1 and (i) doesn’t make me so tired that i can’t ride as long as i intended; and (ii) doesn’t make me too tired to do the rest of the planned workouts for the meso-cycle, then it’s okay.

(ii) is of course impossible to know for certain at the time, but i ballpark it.


This really chimes with one of the deviations on my VO2 post earlier on. I asked the Oracles something similar, particularly if VO2/Anaerobic efforts wreck the purpose of the endurance zone ride.

The feedback I got was essentially to try and hold off the higher zone work until the end of the ride where any negative impact would be reduced as most of the “work” had been done, however the questions remain for me whether the hard efforts (if kept < ~4 minutes)

  1. cause a metabolic shift of energy systems and reduce some of the endurance zone benefits.

  2. whether any reduction in effect is offset by the efforts fatiguing muscle fibers more quickly and causing recruitment of a wider range of fibers (potentially earlier than would be the case with a steady effort), which I understand is one of the objectives of the long slow ride.

I’m not sure if there has been any research into this, or how well its impacts could be measured, sadly it feels like it could be a “it depends” answer to me, as so many things are!

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Hello @jana what is your max heart rate? Have you had your LT1 tested?

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Hi @steveneal! I have not had my LT1 tested yet, but I am scheduling a time to do that with @ryan tomorrow. I’ll get back on and post results once we get that done.

I do know that my max heart rate is 191 bpm.

@stuarthardy, it’s an interesting question I never thought I’d find myself asking! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned about it.

@BikerBocker, it always depends, right!? haha


Dear Jana,

You have uncovered a few issues with your post:

  1. What is your LT1? It sounds like Ryan is going to be testing that soon (today?). That will give you a nice reference point for these rides and it will give you something to look back for comparison. (A breakdown of your Lactate Curve by Ryan would be awesome, but that is a pretty big ask…)

  2. What is a “ruined” ride? Well, this deserves a forum post of it’s own. For me a ruined ride usually involved a crash that necessitates a visit to the Orthopod or PT, a broken bike, an angry dog, or weather straight out of Antarctica or the Mohave Desert. :slight_smile:

  3. What happens when I ride a little too hard on a ride like this? (This is your real question…). Well, what has happened is that you have made a trade. Trades are fine as long as you either decide to trade or recognize the trade. Please allow me to explain.

This is an issue that I run into often. Here in Flagstaff Arizona many of the great mountain bike trails require a climb to get to. If I am not very careful during these climbs my heart rate does go up. What is basically happening in my body is once my heart rate goes up I am using the glycolytic system to a greater extent and involving my fast twitch fibers for help. This results in an increase in Lactate which is neither good nor bad, but just an issue that the body needs to do something with.

So now my body is trying to do two things at once: Produce ATP aerobically AND do something useful with this fuel source that is circulating around. (Lactate…). Anytime I try to do more than one thing at once I don’t necessarily do either as well as I could. That is a rule for life, but also for bike riding.

Now the cost of this ride has increased quite a bit as my body has to work on two things instead of one.

What I am doing is trading my short term subsequent training load for the current ride. Sometimes this is a bad idea as the next few workouts might be the real key to what I am trying to do. But, it is REALLY fun to go up into the mountains and JUST RIDE. There is a huge benefit from this.

The problem that I used to get into is that I ignored or didn’t realize the trades. :-(. This just made me tired and I couldn’t figure it out.

My advice is that make every attempt to plan your trades. (Trevor and Ryan seem to do this during their training camps.) If you find yourself in the middle of an unplanned trade evaluate the situation and decide what you want to do. You can always slow down or take a few more recovery days.

Finally, every now and then just plan a day in the mountains when you smash it. Those rides are really fun and with a little recovery will make you stronger.

Have fun and good luck with your N1 ride!

Will Cobb


I did my first trainer ride yesterday with Coach @ryan in his new Testing Lab! Thanks to Ryan for fitting me in for this LT1 test so quickly to get my question resolved!

@steveneal, thanks for asking about my LT1. It’s kicked off quite an educational journey for me. Now that I’m learning to apply the knowledge I’ve been gleaning about the science of training to myself, the science has taken on a new more personal meaning for me. Having taken this test, I have a more full picture of my own physiology.

The test that I took was a series of 4-minute intervals, starting very slow and easy, and then working up to a decent sweat at the end.

At the end of each interval set, Ryan would take my lactate. (Side Note: It was weird at first to keep pedaling while I knew he was poking me in the ear-lobe! But lucky for me, Ryan’s a pro, and I barely noticed.)

Here are my results.

My LT1 is at 133 BPM and just for fun, we decided to take the test out a bit further to get to my LT2 as well, 163 BPM.

@willcobb9000, Thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree with you that I should be more positive when talking about my own rides! My exaggeration of possibly “ruining” my ride isn’t actually how I feel. The only “ruined” rides are those that get canceled and don’t happen :slight_smile: right?

Good observation about trading rides. I hadn’t thought about it in this way before.
I do like to go out and smash a hard mountain climb.

Things changed for me a bit with my rides last weekend. My body was pretty tired from all the commuting and riding I had been doing the week leading in. Going into my cherished Saturday long ride I was actually relieved knowing that I was supposed to keep it low and slow. This enabled me to enjoy every slow-sweet minute of my ride and have the confidence that it was simultaneously good for my training.

The very notion of “training” conjures up an idea of hard work in my mind. This process of learning that training “easy” can be equally important is slowly starting to sink in.


yeah it took me a very long time to figure that out too.

Like in high school track and field, i used to get fast very quickly but then always plateau quickly too, and my best times for every event were in the first quarter of the season.

I think the reason was that on all our endurance runs, i tried to run with people who had much faster LT1 (even though i was just as fast or faster than them at the 8 and 16). I thought therefore, i should run with them or faster on endurance runs, and that was not the case. I should have been trucking along at 9 or 10 minute miles.

And then, eventually, not only is the anaerobic capacity all ground down to dust but you hit a point where you need to either extend or intensify in order to continue improving, and you’re too tired to do either!


Thank you for sharing your experience. I find it helpful in understanding the slow ride concept. I can see myself potentially replicating the same mistake you made if I’m not paying attention to my ride intensity.

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Thank you for sharing your test! You smashed that thing. Now as payback you get to test Ryan…

@BikerBocker - I had exactly the same experience as a High School Track Runner. I would go out and smash myself to keep up with the fast guys while they were just cruising and talking. At the time I thought that I was working so much harder and that I was gaining. I was just getting tired. I should have been running the 400 anyway instead of the mile/2 mile, but that is a different story!

@Ryan - Would love to hear your thoughts on Jana’s test. :slight_smile:

Keep up the great work everyone!



@jana great test how fun was that?

We all have slightly different views on how we read and use the information.

With lactate tests, I usually use the actual first point of increase as LT1 so in this case 124 heart rate and 150 watts.

The other thing I like to do is look at the heart rate and try and keep in the range of 60-75% of max.

So if we look at the 133 at LT1 that would be 69.6% of max right in the range.

If we take my first increase 124 beats that would be 65%.

So nicely in the heart rate range either way.

Might be interesting to try a few different rides and see how they compare.

One by heart rate, don’t look at the power and stay in the 60-70% range. Some of the hills might challenge this but I would say 95% of the time below the LT1 would be a great goal.

Another day just ride by power and see how much the heart rate increases over time.

In other sports like cross country skiing, it would be normal to just walk a climb or go very slowly with different techniques to stay in the zone. In cycling, this isn’t very popular as sometimes we could tip over at such slow speeds! Terrain choice early in a ride might help with getting everything nice and stable before you start any climbing, if possible.

Good luck with all the training and let us all know how your endurance rides go after the testing and great advice you have had from the others.

@willcobb9000, thanks for tagging me. I was really glad to follow-up with Jana on this test since we initially had her INSCYD results to start with, and that was back in March. What we learned in part from this is that some of her rides were a little too hard and this assessment was able to give us a solid anchor for her LT1.

Comparing to her INSCYD results, her top end of base came out to 161 watts from that test, so there were very few changes to her training zones, which was nice to see. We did attempt to use the DFA a1 protocol in addition to lactate measurements. We were unable to get reliable results on that one, but in talking with @steveneal, he suggested that the DFA method works about 50% of the time. Incidentally, I did the same protocol as Jana the next day and it worked perfectly. So we’re 50/50 there as well :grin:

The take-away here was that we now have an anchor for Jana to focus on for her long rides. We got a nice bump in threshold power, and this LT2 that was selected from the test aligned nicely with her mFTP in WKO5. So she can now push a little harder on sub-LT intervals. I think reinforcing that LT1 intensity is helpful in this case because as Jana saw, particularly on her commuting route, it’s easy to overdo it. So this test allowed us to verify that she is moving in the right direction and provide continued direction to those LSD rides.


@Ryan and @steveneal - Thank you for your analysis on Jana’s data. It is nice to see how each of you squeeze the details out of her HR and Lactate Data.

@jana - Thanks again for sharing and keep up the great work.


Quick question somewhat relevant to this topic for @steveneal and @ryan.

Is power at LT1 and LT2 coupled?

Great questions in this topic!
I think @BikerBocker got it right immediately when pointing at energy levels.
I would like to add that if your LSD brings you to the level of exhaustion, you are no longer ready for a high-intensity interval session soon after. The reason for this being that you will recruit the motor units that control the type 2 fibers. You will fatigue those fibers too, but you need those fresh and ready to rock for your HIIT.

So the take home one-liners would be:
you are not ruining the LSD, your are ruing your next HIIT :slight_smile:

Tip: split your climbs into short intervals. They are less fatiguing that one steady climb.

@kjeldbontenbal, part of the point of the LSD ride is to fatigue the type 1 fibres hence recruiting more of the type 2 fibres and getting them better at working aerobically. I feel pretty tired after a good long continuous LSD ride and wouldn’t do HIIT the next day unless it was on purpose during an overreach block.

Good point! Forget about that one.

hi I am not sure what you mean by coupled can you expand?

You bet…

If power at LT1 and LT2 are coupled, an increase in one would mean the other has also increased and vice versa. They rise and fall together like heart rate is coupled to power during a long ride before fatigue and dehydration set in.

If they are decoupled, a rider could increase power at LT1 but not see a similar increase in power at LT2.

So…is power at LT1 always the same fractional utilization of power at LT2, or could a rider raise power at LT1 towards that of LT2?

Thanks Steve, let me know if my question is still not clear.


Thanks for the clarification @brahl. I had the same question as @steveneal.

Through training we expect to see changes in power at LT1 and LT2, but we can also create changes in LT1 relative to LT2, so I would suggest these are not exactly coupled. They do both tend to improve with, e.g., base training, but not necessarily to the same degree. I’ve been able to test a lot of ultra-distance athletes (runners and mountaineers mostly) here in Colorado over the years and they generally put a heavy focus on improving LT1. They make for great examples of scenarios where both LT1 and LT2 improve from the training, but not to the same degree.

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