The weekly “long Ride”

Hey everybody. I’ve been a happy TR user for a few yrs now. Came into TR as a Ironman guy and am now focused more on XC mountain bike with Breck Epic in Augs being the big 2019 goal. 42yrs, inseason aroind 4.0 watts/kg. Enough about me…
Since I left Ironman stuff I haven’t done a typical on the road long ride for yrs. Just love riding mountain bike way to much, but I think I’m leaving something at the table. I live in a northern climate and will start mid volume plans soon. Finally this is my question… “ would it benefit me to substitute one of the 60 min interval workouts for a 3hr endurance trainer ride”
Thanks Everybody… Very helpful site…

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Looking for the same answer as you. But also: how to go about it in then picking those longer rides?

One way is to keep original interval TSS consistent with longer ride’s TSS, but I remember @chad saying on the podcast that “TSS isn’t TSS” and can’t be substituted directly like this.

My events are typically 6h+ one day, but in my mind we kind of need the same bigger aerobic engine for sustaining the duration.

Hope someone can share experience and wisdom.

Pragmatically, we use TR to do the real thing, so engaging in the real thing seems logical to me. It’s fun and that’s worth it! With that said, I live in an area easy to ride outside year around. Week end long rides with the mates or a group ride really energize me, but they can be too much TSS in the context of these training plans. So, be ready to adjust your next few days down stream. Be able to be rested enough to hit your numbers when you return to the trainer.

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Im not sure of a scientific answer but I want to maintain my Sat club ride (weather permitting) in order to maintain the social aspect of my cycling lifestyle. On those days I use it as a substitute of the TR workout obviously and accept that it will bump my weekly TSS over prescribed target level.

I also want to put into practice what I am training through and test myself along the way. After all this training is meant to deliver a better performance on the road so why not incorporate when the opportunity arises?

One other point I do is reduce the intensity of the Sunday scheduled workout in order to pull back a little on the TSS as I generally feel pretty wrecked anyway!

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Thanks for the responses. I think I might just give it a go and see what happens. I’ve got a few weeks before I start the cycle of plans pre Breck Epic.
Another option I was thinking was a 2hr endurance ride followed up with 90min xc skate ski. I wouldn’t be getting a solid 3hr power to the pedals ride but sounds fun.

Based on feedback from the podcast and TR support (on this forum), my plan for SSB-2 is to pick the mid volume. The key workouts are Tue/Thur/Sat when you compare to low volume plan. The mid volume plan adds an aerobic endurance to Wed (Pettit), and a sweet spot interval on Sunday. The Sunday SS session is the one to target for substituting a long outdoor ride.

What works for my schedule is to move Tue/Thur/Sat to Mon/Wed/Fri. That is first adjustment I make to the plan.

Knowing that I’m likely to go out with my wife on Friday night, and plan to do a long group ride on Sat (sometimes Sun) morning, I swap the 90 min Friday for 60 min Wed. That is the second adjustment I make to the plan.

Finally, I’m likely to substitute a group ride on the weekend to replace the plan’s sweet spot

Sometimes on a Tuesday, if I’m feeling good I’ll substitute a 90 minute aerobic endurance for 60-min Pettit on the plan. Say something like Colosseum or Baxter or Fletcher and then dial down the intensity to 80% which lowers the max 80% intervals down to 64% - making it a nice longer aerobic endurance workout after Monday’s VO2max/Anaerobic workout.

The key point is that you have 3 primary workouts in the TR low and mid plans - Tue/Thur/Sat and you can move the days and also add in long aerobic endurance work. That approach works with both low or mid volume plans.

I like this option.

Of course nothing substitutes “time in the saddle,” but 3hr on a static trainer can hard on the body…if you know what I mean. Give it try, but be very mindful of the taint. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I was thinking, a three hour endurance trainer ride is type 3 fun (it isn’t fun while doing it, or looking back a week later, or looking back six months later). In a recent podcast, I think Chad or Nate said a four hour trainer ride was like about six hours outdoors because no stops, no coasting, no real breaks, unless you take them.

Over summer/earlier in fall I was yearning to get outside, so I picked a plan, added a weekly outdoor ride with estimated TSS, then added, subtracted, or adjusted (-1, -2) workouts during the week to meet my TSS goals. If I couldn’t find an adjusted version of a workout that fit, I found a different-named workout that was similar in structure (shorter rests, slightly shorter intervals, etc.) and used that.

If you really want to ride three hours on a trainer, get out of the saddle regularly to reduce the risk of discomfort or damage.

Here are some separate thoughts from a recent thread about indoor training. I plan to compile these into a nice list of good tips for long rides inside, for the crazy people like me that choose and even like doing them.

0:08:30, they correctly mention the presence of issues from the static nature of most trainers.

  • I think they point to rollers as an option, which is great. However, they miss the obvious consideration of the Kinetic Rock and Roll that has been around for many years. Not to mention the expansion of motion in trainers from rocker plates.
  • Either of those options adds motion that makes a notable change to loading on the sit bones and soft tissue, to prevent the overloading that is common from a static trainer.

0:28:00, the first of many unwarranted “warnings about the dangers” associated with long rides inside. Good grief… where to start?

  • Again, they miss the potential advantage of using a trainer vs riding outdoors. They correctly mention the fact that trainer rides can be much more controlled and steady when compared to outside.
  • But instead of looking for the advantage in that difference, they use it as a negative and offer a warning about not doing the “dreaded long ride” inside.
  • How about the fact that I can condense a 3-4 hour outside ride (with stops, starts, irregular roads, hills, etc.) into much more CONTROLLED and EFFICIENT workout of 2-3 hours in length?
  • I know the specifics aren’t set as to overall efficiency comparison (inside > outside), but there is a notable opportunity to condense a ride to into a shorter overall time inside, while getting all of the desired training stimulus, in less time than is needed to do the same outside. Totally unscientific, but I think you can generally consider doing an inside ride of 80-90% the total time compared to outside ride time.

0:54:00, Another warning about not doing steady-state work at low intensity, like Z1 POL.

  • They touch on the possible mental strain and saddle comfort as the main problems. However, they ignore the opportunity to easily address those issues.
  • Mental strain can be covered well with great distractions via Zwift, movies, music, reading or anything else a person finds worthwhile. It is easy to adapt one or more of these entertainments into the “dreaded long ride inside”.
  • Saddle comfort is easily addressed by adding in frequent standing breaks for one. Get up and stretch every 5-10 minutes. It’s something that happens outside frequently just from the nature of the ride and things like intersections and hills. We just need to think a bit more about it inside.
  • Consider adding a rocker plate for comfort via the added motion.
  • Then consider the fact that the long rides in TR have built in steps with subtle resistance changes for one thing. Add in the technique drills like endurance spins, single leg focus, and such as great ways to alter loading on the body and keep the ride interesting.
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As an endurance cyclist, I think an aerobic 3+ hour ride at the weekend is vital in bad weather as well as good. You can’t substitute a long outdoor ride with anything inside but don’t get me wrong I use mid vol SSB plan on TR Mon to Friday and just make sure I’m sufficiently rested for my long outdoor ride at the weekend.

I’m convinced of the benefits of 45-90 minute trainer rides. Primary benefit for me is that I can reliably do 3 hard workouts per week on the trainer without overdoing it. Outside I just don’t have the discipline, and end up riding too hard and too long. That either increases recovery required for the next hard workout, or impacts my ability to do next hard ride. Inside the hard efforts are focused and progressive - perfect for building up fitness (muscle endurance or top-end).

I don’t feel the same about long outside rides. The primary objective is aerobic endurance, and my routes have few traffic lights. Being outside on my bike is on my top 3 “why cycling?” list. Why take long enjoyable rides outside and move them inside for marginal gains in efficiency? Plus no worries about comfort, a real concern when riding on the trainer for more than 90 minutes.

Used to own a Nordic Track cross-country ski machine, and never in a million years would I give up a long touring day in the mountains for “the same workout” inside.

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  1. Bad weather (rain all the way to to inches and feet of snow)
  2. Available Time (Ability to condense the overall aerobic benefits into about 80% of the time required outside. That can mean hours in some cases which is not marginal for scheduling in my life.)
  3. Lack of Daylight (I can do these anytime of the day or night, when it would be quite risky outside, even with lights)

And likely more, but those are some of the ones that work for me.

I fully acknowledge long rides inside are not for everyone, and likely not for many. But they can be very beneficial for a variety of reasons, even when outside is not a practical option.

I think the 80% compression is overstated, but you are entitled to that opinion as I don’t know how you ride outside. The others, well, I happen to live where (weather permitting) it is possible to ride outside 365 days of the year. And I don’t ride at night.

When we move away from CA its likely going to be somewhere with real winters, and I’ll be outside downhill or cross country skiing :skier::ski: Nothing like a little cross training to keep things fresh!

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For me it would depend on my goals. If my goal is endurance riding I would say that substitution is critical. Logistical and mental training alone make those efforts worthwhile. Train your brain to deal with wind, heat, hills, mechanicals, whatever. Find out the little things that can go wrong on the road & eliminate them.

Also, if you just enjoy long rides! I enjoy long rides. I love a solo hundo. So, if it’s fun, of course it’s worth doing!

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One of my standard long rides nicely matches up with TR’s Disaster workout in terms of duration, TSS, work in kJ/calories, IF, and even roughly similar % time in zones as I mentioned here Worldwide "Disaster" Workout Day - Dec 15, 2018

Riding time:

  • 4:15:00 Disaster on trainer
  • 4:15:47 my 70+ mile ride

Elapsed time I estimate at roughly 5% less for indoor rides of that long duration, based on the breaks I took on 2-3 hour TR workouts. And that is solo outside ride, so less time waiting at stops.

@REEDBOY - I’d do that substitution if you enjoy 3 hour outside endurance rides! In the past I try and do 2 a month, and have noticed a positive impact on fitness as a result.

Great stuff thanks. Yes riding outside from now to April is a no-go due to weather. I like the idea of using the mid volume plans and trying to tack more volume on the aerobic days. Think I will just increase volume that way and mix in xc skiing.
Thanks for all the useful info.

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How about this aproach? I am using the low volume plan but I add almost every weekend a long mtb outdoor ride(2-5hrs), mostly endurance or tempo. By doing this I follow the prescribed workouts indoor and I do not substitute them for the outdoor rides. I think that if I chose the mid volume and replaced workouts with the outdoor ride, sometimes it would be the 2 workouts prescribed on the weekend so the training plan will lose more of its structure. What do you think?

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I think a long ride is important, and agree that a 3hr outdoor ride is about the same as a 1.5 - 2hr trainer ride. For those longer rides indoors the only way I can do it is on Zwift. I’ll find a C or D cat group ride on a hilly route and join in. It’s not the same as getting out with your mates, but there’s a social aspect to it, and although sticks to the prescribed pace, there’s some variation in intensity.

The idea is not about stressing your body with intensity, but stressing it with duration. Building that base to work on.

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