Endurance rides - how hard\easy should they be?

Hi everyone,

Just a quick generic question here, I have completed a couple of 3 hour endurance rides recently, both felt really easy, to the point that afterwards I don’t really feel like I have worked out.

My question is how hard should these efforts feel? On today’s ride my heart rate was super low (120 -130bpm), and generally I seem to have a slightly negative aerobic decoupling with most of my tempo\endurance rides, which I am taking to mean my fitness is fine for this level.

Im interested to hear others thoughts on how you find longer endurance workouts. Im almost wondering if its better to bump the intensity to higher tempo or lower sweetspot.

As background on my training so far; I have completed the sweet spot high volume base 1 and 2, as well as 4 weeks of sustained build hv, before reverting to long distance tri high volume. It was my intention to follow long distance tri through build and speciality, but only complete 6 weeks of the base section. IM Austria is my A race in July.

Thanks for any input,

Then that wouldn’t be an endurance ride anymore, homie. :wink:

You do an endurance ride at a specific level because you’re targeting specific adaptations physiologically. An important thing to remember is that not every ride is meant to completely empty your tank. Sure you could probably do that ride at closer to sweet spot intensity, but it will take you how much longer to recover? And what impact will it have on the key interval sessions you have the next week. You’re training to be as fast as possible for your race day, not just for one specific workout x months away from your race.


You should be able to have a conversation during an Endurance (Z2) ride.
It should feel like a 2-3/10 effort.

Please read: Power Training Zones for Cycling


On a HR basis I have found the Maffatone formula quite accurate. 180 less your age then add back 5 beats since your are in good shape. So if you are 40 YO, your endurance training HR should be 140 to 145 bpm. Your HR range of 120 to 130 is the HR zone for a 60 YO (me :tired_face:).

Its very individualistic. My HR for endurance is solidly in the 120s. Has been forever, and I’m 39. My max is 175 ish.


If you are doing 3 hours rides at that pace and it feels easy, you aren’t going hard enough. Go 2 hours at 140 bpm and see how that feels. It shouldn’t be easy.

Hard disagree on this.

I’d echo the comments of @bherbers and @G650

Endurance rides serve a specific purpose and not all rides need to completely exhausting to have value, especially taken in the context of a full training week.

I’d argue that there are also good arguments to use harder long rides, in order to practice nutrition and running off the bike at near race intensities for example, but they should be specifically planned for within your schedule and would tend to be much nearer your target race.

Get to know the variations of your own HR in training and what factors can affect things for you (coffee, fatigue, illness are examples) rather than rely on spurious formulas that can sometimes work for some people.

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Im pretty comfortable reading my heart rate to effort, its something I have monitored for a long time. 120 for me is very low, Im asthmatic, 44 yo, my average tends to be around the 160 mark on most of my workouts. Whats bothering me is that I dont feel like I have had a workout, I could jump on the trainer and go again right now I if was so inclined. A part of me is wondering if I should retake a ramp test this week to make sure I am targeting my power zones correctly.

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140 is the bottom of Sweet Spot for me, where my long (2+ hour) tempo rides are done

That might be worth doing. Knowing yourself and your ‘normal’ responses to training is important. How long ago did you last do a test?

The other question to ask would be is it a one off thing or part of a trend? There should be fairly limited aerobic decoupling over an endurance ride but has there been a trend of HR/effort lowering over a period of time?

On a practical note and just to throw it out there, PM calibration can sometimes be off so did the RPE match the power numbers you were seeing?