If you train hard, you must also rest hard. Some of the lunchtime riding group at work are perplexed by my riding habits. I may ride a pace they like in the winter or very early in the season, but as the season progress, my hard rides get harder, and my easy rides get easier. It doesn’t all get harder. You see, the harder you train, the more important recovery becomes, especially for somebody like me in their 40’s.
The lunch crowd likes neither end of my riding spectrum once winter passes. My hard is too hard, yet my easy is too easy. I often will do block training days, where two or three days in a row involve intensity work. Then I need two days of recovery. I rarely take days completely off, so I go out for short recovery rides and stretch afterward on my rest days.
The pace I ride at is one half my 30-minute power, which is roughly 60-65% of my max heart rate. This is a very easy pace and takes focus with HRM to keep it that easy But if I go harder than this, I don’t recover as well, and go into my next intensity block with sore or tired legs. I find maximum adaptation is gained when doing intensity work on fresh legs. For many riders, taking one or two days per week completely off the bicycle may be the best way to recover.