Endurance vs. recovery intensity

It seems like the vast majority of ‘easy’ days in TrainerRoad plans during the 3 week builds as well as TrainNow recommendations are endurance intensity (in the 0.6-0.7 IF).

It seems like rides in the recovery week of TR plans are generally scaled back to IFs of 0.5-0.6.

Just curious if any of you routinely decrease IF of endurance rides during build weeks down to recovery.

I know the endurance rides offer some aerobic adaptation and increased TSS relative to recovery intensity, but genuinely curious about how the optimal intensity for ‘easy’ days is determined during build weeks and what the advantages are to endurance IF vs recovery IF on these days.

Hey @tr1Houn4,

Welcome back to the forum! :slightly_smiling_face:

This is a good question!

You’re right about how/when we prescribe “Endurance” rides vs. “Recovery” rides.

The workouts we prescribe during rest weeks are set to meet specific criteria that deem them suitable as recovery rides (hence the lower IF).

There’s no harm in reducing an Endurance ride to recovery intensity, and if it’s going to help you get through the week in one piece, it’s probably a net positive.

There are, of course, tons of gains to be made by getting in true Endurance rides though, so it might be wise to make some changes to your training plan if you’re routinely having to switch Endurance rides to Recovery rides.

If you’re interested in reading about the benefits of these Endurance rides, check out our blog post I’ve linked below!

Zone 2 Training for Cyclists: Where Endurance Training Fits in Your Training Plan

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My last TR recovery week had sessions of Endurance 1.0-1.2 (even though my PL is higher) with IFs of circa 0.5 and labelled Recovery workouts in bottom corner. I usually take recovery week sessions outdoors and often with a bike that has no PM so I’m going off HR and I aim to keep that below 60%MHR generally (sometimes traffic watching rather than HR watching sees me above that but I usually average around 55%MHR)

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Yes, I load up a free ride and do my endurance ride by RPE rather than using a programmed TR endurance workout. It works better for me.

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I keep it pretty simple - if I’m doing endurance then I’m working a little - but not to much like an RPE of 4 or 5 out of 10. If it’s recovery, then the point for me is to spin the legs and keep my HR around and about 100 which happens to be an RPE of about 3.
When doing endurance - I’m looking for time in the saddle and not going so hard that it messes up my next days intensity session.
When doing recovery, I’m looking to almost do a casual ride without breaking a sweat - sometimes I won’t even dress up in my riding clothes and I’ll just cruise to the cafe and back.

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40 to 45 percent of FTP for 45 minutes at 85rpm+ as if the cranks are made of glass. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I personally find “recovery rides” as a bit of a misnomer. Any bike ride thats above maybe 25% of ftp will induce some fatigue, even if minimal. I’ve found that I can squeak a bit more performance by altering my power higher for what I consider “easy rides.” I’ll ride 50% at my easiest when I’m doing mostly bike training (7 rides a week - 2-3 rides a week will be done at that intensity). When doing triathlon training (3-4 rides a week), wasting a ride on “recovery” isn’t worth it to me. So I ride at a very low z2, maybe 60-62%. This 50-60% ftp are not fatiguing enough to mess up the hard rides, but arguably are also doing a little for improving aerobic performance.

Frequency is one of the biggest ways I’ve found to gain in cycling performance. So if you are getting cooked/burned out, you should reduce intensity of the easy rides but I would not recommend dropping ride days unless it’s maybe a recovery week.

I have found that my legs prefer a long warmup. As a result, I’ll spend the first 10-15, maybe even 30, minutes of Z2 rides just ignoring the numbers and letting my body set the pace. Once/If I feel like my body is “waking up” and ready to focus, then I’ll move into the workout goals.

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1 hour at 100W (about 35% of FTP) is a glorious, glorious ride if you’ve never done it. That’s my recovery ride. But yeah, if you’re not able to ride 10+ hours a week you might not want to spend time doing that.

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105 watts for me :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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95 :sunglasses:

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I’m doing my next one at 106. :triumph:

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Darn it, last week I did 101 watts.

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Appears I need to make my recovery rides even easier

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Personally… the distinction between endurance and recovery is kind of artificial. Especially within the context of working within the TR environment where “0.6” of FTP is going to be very different fatigue-wise based on how you’ve attempted to measure FTP, and what your PLs are currently are for that “FTP.”

For my “easy” rides during a normal week, my goal is to do them at the highest intensity that’s not going to interfere with my performance on my high intensity rides. (Ie: pick the intensity that accumulates the most TSS with a level of fatigue that I can adequately recover from in time).

If I’ve slept poorly or aren’t feeling it, I’ll sub in an alternate ride at a lower intensity. If things are good, I’ll do a higher intensity. Whether this is at 0.55, 0.65, 0.75, or maybe even reaching into low tempo a bit depends on how everything else is going.

“True” recovery rides where you just spin the legs and go at walking intensity, I do less often. Typically when post-nights, maybe after a really big day. Sometimes as part of a recovery week.

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Depends on the intent. If it’s an easy aerobic stimulus during the week, 55% or 60% (higher? depends on duration) can be fine. If you’re trying for recovery proper after a couple of hard days and it would either be a rest day or a “recovery ride”, then 100W.

My example today: I did intervals → sprint work → 4.5 hrs around 68% avg yesterday the last three days. So I’m pretty tired. Today is a rest day… but I might go sit at 100W for 30-60 min, I always feel better when I do, and there is some aerobic stimulus to it, however small. That’s different than like, “I’m tired but want to do some endurance work”, then I might do 55-60%.

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My recovery rides are always in lieu of what would otherwise be an off day. Either between two really hard days or at the end of a 2 or 3 three day mini-block.

Otherwise I’d be tempted to do an “easy” endurance ride and turn it into work. Then that’d be too much for recovery but not enough stimulus to fatigue ratio to be worthwhile.

What’s the saying? If you try to chase two rabbits you’ll end up catching none. :slightly_smiling_face: