Any room for long hard rides?

The current consensus seems to be that combining short sharp sessions during the week with longer zone two rides at the weekend is the way to train.

Is there any room for long hard rides?

For example: 3 hours spending most of your time towards the upper end of tempo, going above this to keep your speed over lumps and bumps and pushing on the hills. Threshold up hills over 5 minutes, above threshold on shorter hills.


Sure, there’s a role for these kind of rides: 1) they’re similar to racing efforts, 2) you get a varied, interesting workout, and 3) they’re fun.

Providing the rest/recovery after is enough to absorb the work, no harm in doing them. However, consider that recovery may be significant and require a few days off the bike/easy, which could then negatively influence the following sessions and de-rail any carefully constructed plan, aimed at incrementally increasing load, matched with adequate recovery.

It’s a balance of risk and reward. If you know you can do them, recover, and complete the following sessions, then no problem. If they destroy for a week, leaving you unable to train then I’d advise caution.


I just do the long hard rides, I will even attempt to throw my hvss intervals into the ride. Sometimes the last hour of a 80 mile ride I limp home in zone 2, but I figure the 80 miles on the legs and making sure I do the regimented workout will even it all out.

I think you can get into trouble where you do a hard ride and you at the data and find out it really wasnt the zones you were looking for is when you start to wonder if your doing it right.

Absolutely, as long as you do not let your overall TSS get out of hand by doing too much of this. Also, this is not something I would do every week, especially if you’re in a recovery week. Sprinkling these in periodically throughout your plan is a fantastic way to add variety, keep things interesting, and incorporate race-like situations. It can also make dealing with terrain fun in a fartlek (“speed play”) sort of way.

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I’ve often felt a good boost from 3+ hour tempo rides - like sitting on the wheels of cat 1s in my club on a long group ride.

I’d only want to do these kinds of rides once in a while. They are very fatiguing.

Thanks all. Much appreciated.

In the time before COVID, our usual Saturday ride was a ~4hr fast group ride with surges, occasional sprints and consistent high tempo. Even just sitting in built a fair amount of TSS.

So there is absolutely a role for such rides…IMO, you should do the fairly regularly.


You gotta do it sometimes, it’s good practice. That said, I can attest that a training strategy that only includes hard/long rides doesn’t work for most time crunched riders. My previous training methodology was to do a 4-6 hour mountain bike ride on the weekends and spend the rest of the week eating. It took way too long to recover from the stress of the epic weekend that I wasn’t able to train any energy system that was in need of refinement. I struggled with that for years, wondering why I didn’t get faster, or at least have more durability. I think the other side are riders who adhere so strictly to a structured plan that they forget how to ride without staring at their Garmin, ride 99% on the trainer. That might be fine for Tri and TT but in any other discipline developing and maintaining handling skill while under duress is clutch.


I’m currently doing a non TR plan where one of the weekend rides each week is specifically designated as “go outside and hammer yourself on a group ride” for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the week. Usually the only rules for that day’s workout are hit a TSS target and get a certain amount of time in sweet spot over the course of the ride. The trick is its part of a structured plan and baked into the weekly workload. The only issue with TR is such efforts are fine but since they’re not already built in you have to do a little fiddling with the plan to keep things balance.


I went from a MV base plan over the winter (little/no outdoor riding anyway) to a LV build plan. I like the flexibility it offers and I can more easily modify it.

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There’s a TrainingPeaks webinar where (I think) Tim Cusick talks about “TAN Tempo” rides, which stands for Tough As Nails Tempo.

Basically it’s go for a ride and try to keep average watts to 85% FTP for as long as you can. Try to stretch it out over a couple of hours.

It’s the kind of thing I’d do on a Sunday after a threshold workout on Saturday, trying to spend longer in the tempo zone with each week before recovery.

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Sounds similar to Polar Bear if the weather’s crap.


This is an interesting article. They talk about the “tired 20 metric” - 20 minute power after 2500 kj of energy expenditure.

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heck yeah, sounds like a race! Will be really good for fitness. Just make sure you have some recovery before trying to smash an interval session.

Have fun!

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