How long is long enough on LSD rides?

On endurance rides, staying within my zone 1 of 3 HR, I have wondered about the proverbial “Goldilocks” point at which at a certain time of the ride, I trigger bring enough adaptation without going into excessive muscle damage that would affect greater progress by continuing to ride.

Trevor has mentioned that it is generally an individual dynamic; he has to push his body quite hard to get the benefits, while others can do with less. He mentioned Dr. Seiler was working on research in that direction.

I have been using RPE and seeing my average normalized power relative to a stable HR drop as an indicator during the rides. Lately, I have been tracking and started to pay a lot more attention to Performance Condition numbers on my Garmin, from Firstbeat, during the endurance rides, and using to gauge when my body had enough.

I noticed that it seemed to track well with the decoupling on Training Peaks. I start paying attention to it after around 30 minutes after I start riding. I have found that if if the negative numbers start rising quickly, I need to ride a shorter amount of time. I likely haven’t recovered from previous efforts.

There have been times when my legs felt good, the power to HR wasn’t very good, and Performance Condition numbers suggested even a short endurance ride was straining me, and at a quick rate. Beautiful as the days were, I forced myself to turn around and stop the rides way short at times, and try again the next day.

For me, it has made a big difference. The next day, my PC numbers would be much better, and the decoupling as well.

I wonder what experiences you have had, and any suggestions/insights about using this tool?


Yup, same experience here

Checking the workout’s Training Impact score in WKO5 is kinda interesting on these, not sure if other people use this much.

A lot of my endurance rides end up with a 5 out of 10 aerobic score which is meant to be just maintenance. Scoring a 7 or an 8 would be more of an adaptive impact, but would mean - for me - doing an extremely long ride.

It depends on the individual.

I think is depends on frequency, duration, how you structure your rides, and above all consistency. For instance do you do your rides on consecutive days, then have a block of rest, or ride on alternate days with rest in between.

Here’s a plot I’ve done of a reference route of mine that has no traffic lights, hardly any traffic, and allows me to ride in a repeatable way below my LT1.

The vertical scale is an efficiency factor that looks at my performance in relation to my heart rate. You see it declines up New Year, at which point I take 4 days off the bike, that sees a boost to my efficiency next effort. Then from Jan onwards I’ve been able to consistently put in the volume. My efficiency has steadily improved in the last 6 weeks. The hours of LSD each week are annotated as you can see.

Ideally I’d like to block my ride days then have a longer rest block each week. But real life means it more of a ride, walk, ride kind of schedule. But some weeks I’m able to block it.

For me, at the moment, it appears about 2 hours outside, 4 times a week is a nice sweetspot, with the occasional stretch week where I have a 5th day to ride up to 4 hours. After a stretch week I try and drop the hours down towards 6 hours but keep the frequency of 4 rides the following week. I block ride days where possible. I’m seeing steady progress on this, but also note how I’ve been more consistent with my hours from the beginning of this year, than leading into it. That is purely a function of late Nov and then Dec just being a period where I ease back the volume and chill.

I’ll add that I’m not doing high intensity at the moment, during this progress. I’m capping my heart rate at 82%, but most days I top out at 78% max HR , with an average of 65% max HR, like today’s ride. I wanted to do a solid 3 months of base before I bring intensity back. I plan to bring intensity back into the mix in about a month from now.

I’d say experiment with your volume, frequency , rest days etc. Do a period of at least a few weeks and see what you find. If you’re not limited by volume then progress it within reason, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact other aspects of your life.

Kolie Moore’s last podcast was interesting on HR decoupling / efficiency - it aligned with my experience too which is why I was experimenting with other metrics like aerobic Training Impact to figure out suitable workout duration.

(listen around the 21 min mark)

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A timely discussion for me as I’ve recently been reading about aerobic decoupling as a way to assess recovery. I found the following article that talks about the factors leading to cardiac drift. It seems the main challenge is deconvolving the effects of heat, hydration, glycogen depletion, and neuromuscular fatigue.

As close to a pet peeve to me is why, with all the exotic parameters that bike computers offer, they don’t show decoupling as one rides.

I like Hofmann & Tschakert’s diagram for conceptualising ‘enough’ training duration.

How long duration is ‘enough’ is of course related to current training status. I wouldn’t over-index on the precise % max duration numbers they suggest. As OP suggests, RPE and general cracked/10 level after a ride will be a pretty good indicator of fatigue and sustainable, consistent training duration. Or cardiac drift, or take your pick of whatever biometric you have access to. All can add additional information (but not necessarily additional precision).

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