How do you cope with long rides in low power

Hey guys!

I’m really struggling with those rides of 1,5-2h in Z2 as they’re not only boring but also the legs suffer a lot in the end too (plus I get my ass really sore).

I’ve tried to watch tv series, youtube, music, change the position on the saddle but I really struggle both physically and mentally.

What tips do you have or what do you do to complete that kind of workout?

Thanks in advance!


Could you not do these ones outside?


I’m training 12-14 hours a week, only 3-4 outside due to time constraints (its more time consuming to prepare to go outside than train indoors) and it’s way more difficult to keep the watts low outside (ramps, navigation among traffic…)

I get that, I often thought in the past that given the terrain where I live (hilly, rolling and only a couple of long flat roads to choose from) that Z2 is only possibly on the turbo. The difficulty of keeping in z2 I found made the rides more enjoyable. Appreciate the time constraints angle though. In reality, if you can keep things to Z2 most of the time and not worry about the occasional over or under then I’m sure you’ll be fine.


Try doing 2 a-day instead of one long one. Good podcast on it here: Effective Two-A-Day Workout Strategies, with Neal Henderson - Fast Talk Laboratories

It’s possible to keep the watts low outside, but many cyclists are afraid to go slow enough to keep the power below the intended limit. Requires some stem-gazing, but I do agree that it’s easier on the trainer.


@geraldm24: totally agree, it’s possible but really difficult sometimes (downhill can be dangerous depending on how many riders there are, and uphill is really really difficult to keep under 200w). So… as doing it indoors is the feasible option, do you have any tips to reduce physical and mental discomfort?

@carytb: thanks! I’ll discuss it with my trainer

Like a small child on a long drive, you must need to have your will broken. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The first hour is torture (ad we there yet, when are we getting there, how much longer, etc) until at some point they settle in and accept their fate.

Same with longer rides on the trainer….at some point you settle in and just accept it. 90 minutes was once my max but can now knock out 4+ hour rides every weekend during the winter. I use a combination of TV shows, movies, and Zwift to keep things interesting. Just keep adding more time, bit by bit.

I know that isn’t the answer you wanted, but there is no magic bullet. :man_shrugging:


It had to be said haha
Ok, I understand the mental factor is something to train (I don’t know how maybe its just practise).

Zwift is something interesting, can you upload your training in zwift or do you put it on your garmin and join a race doing just your thing?

1.5-2h is short if you take them outdoors; the only thing for me traffic can make it feel unsafe if you are going too slow (particularly in Z1) so I tend to end up riding at the top of Z2 (touching into Z3 sometimes) if its busy until I am out of Peterborough, UK. I also done my last few recovery rides of road on the gravel bike so that isn’t an issue. Terrain isn’t an issue here either as to keeping the power down/up and at most I’ll only go out of zone for 30s.

For indoors, I don’t have advice but rather what I do:

Z2 is 56-75% (power), so I don’t need to spend the full ride at one level. Instead I’ll slow the cadence down while still riding in the same gear. Power drops from about 70% to 60%.

That drops the heart rate and allows me to sit up, drink, wipe the eyebrows and check the time. I’ll also stand and stretch the legs while spinning slowly. I don’t need to look at the head unit on an easy ride, as I work on the “feel” for the pace/power and effort. Once I decide it’s time for a “break”, I’ll press the lap time and glance at the head unit to see the last lap data. The goal is to see that I’m within the range of Z2, and see if my “feel” is in tune or out of tune.

He’s asking for advice on how to ride them inside, so let’s stop telling him to just ride them outside. It’s a valid ask particularly as winter approaches in the northern half of the world.

As Power13 says, it takes practice. At some point 1 hour seemed like a long time on a trainer. As you extend it to 1:15, 1:30, 2, those durations will seem more “normal.”

On hard days it’s not so bad because the interval work keeps you engaged, but the easy days are challenging because you are too aware of your boredom and discomfort.

One thing isn’t the answer. It’s a combination of all the things you listed, with you switching between them as you get bored with one of them. It certainly helps to find a tv series or movie that you are interested in. If you aren’t interested in it, it will just remind you of how bored you are. Second thing, I run zwift and trainerroad simultaneously. I don’t often focus much on the zwift screen, but it helps as a distraction. To build on this, for really long rides, I find it helps to join a zwift event. The 100km and 100 mile endurance rides can be surprisingly engaging.

Otherwise, make sure you are comfortable. Stand every 10 minutes for a minute. Move around on the bike, change hand positions for periods of time. And make sure you aren’t hungry. Hunger is a big distraction on long rides.


The mental aspect just needs to be trained and it will get better. Sometimes I find it works best to change it up so I’ll do 30 min of YouTube then a 40min tv show then a shorter show or more YouTube. But every winter I have to rebuild that mental callous again.

On the physical side I shift up and stand every 15 min for about 30 seconds to give my butt some rest. And if you really need to as you start getting longer then it’s not totally bad to get off the bike for a couple minutes.

Stand up and give a few pedal strokes frequently, say every 15 mins or so. Even a brief 30 seconds of standing every 15 mins can make a huge difference to comfort.

Thanks a lot to @russell.r.sage, I think that doing those kind of workouts outside is less feasible than being able to do them indoors in a better way. Good insight how hard workouts keeps you more engaged.
I’ll try zwift as one of the things I’ll do in these workouts (when I can afford it, so many different expenses: nutritionist, physiotherapy, trainer…). I’ll try to stand too…

As @mwglow15 and @russell.r.sage said, I’ll try to stand too, as maybe is one the things that bore me the most. I’m using vaseline to help too.

The idea of @simonicusfacilis of changing the watts is interesting too (while being on the right interval of watts, obviously).

Thanks a lot for all your advise, really glad to be able to count on you all!

Much of this seems covered, but here is my consolidated list of ideas related to saddle pain and such on the trainer.

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Another idea is, if you enjoy the podcast, then save it for your long rides on the trainer…and watch it on YouTube. Then you don’t really need to concentrate on the screen as you might with a TV show or movie, but it is there to serve as a distraction.

I also like to find a TV series that I enjoy, doesn’t require too much mental focus that I will save just for the trainer. Maybe i’ll watch and episode or two at first to get the gist of it, but then by saving it only for the trainer, it motivates me to get on and maybe stay on longer.

Epic series tend to be best for this…Breaking Bad, Sopranos, etc.


Yeah, just ignore the data and do an easy ride.

I did 4 hours of zone 1 during a 6 hour ride Saturday. Pretty sure the 12 minutes I spent above Z3 didn’t ruin me.

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One of the methods I also use for long Endurance rides on the trainer (as well as outside) is to mix up cadence during the workout. In TR, I often do a block (10-15 mins) at a normal 90rpm cadence range, and then do the next block at a lower cadence like 65rpm.

I just flip-flop all through the workout. Adds a bit of attention change for that need to watch the block switches, but I find that the change in actual muscle force and activation helps with booty fatigue a bit. I find that low power efforts like endurance and a regular cadence range lead to a sore bottom much quicker, so the lower cadence helps in that aspect too.

  • Find variations with occasional very short sprints to chunk up time and provide some variability

  • Pick workouts with shorter intervals so you can count down to change positions, cadence, take a drink, etc.

  • 10 second occasional coasts, standing up and stretching out your hips/glutes/calves

  • Change positions - 30 breaths in the drops, bar ends, hoods, TT, tops

  • Pick long songs with steady/hypnotic beats. I have a playlist of just these.

  • Do in complete darkness

  • Find a good race that has excitement/pacing throughout - On Paris Roubaix day I have ridden like 4 hours on the trainer. Or youtube has some fantastic footage from gravel races, scenic locations, with high cadence.

  • Find a kick a$$ live concert from your favorite band

I am not someone who can watch movies/shows or listen to podcasts on the bike. And with the lower power my sense is there is less weight on the legs/feet, which means more on the a$$ and arms. Work on your core/upper body.