Useful measures of RPE outdoors

Hi. A third of my workouts are outdoors and RPE based w HRM.

I notice that my indoor workouts seem to have higher RPE - for what I perceive to be same power output.
This seems predictable as there is more to divert attention outdoors, better airflow etc

My question is are there useful/reliable physical markers for level of physical exertion at RPE levels. I’m specifically interested in Tempo vs SS vs Threshold. I’m never really sure that I’m hitting a correct RPE. To say “moderate” or “hard” to me seems pretty vague given variablities in RPE depending on conditions/hydration/rest etc

As an aside I can drive HR to max 175 on all out burst efforts with a higher baseline outputs.

At some point I really hope that TR can take our outdoor workouts w/o a PM and relate them to on trainer workouts and tell us if we are hitting marks consistently. :). (Hint hint)

Thanks all


This is tough because riding outside you’re going to crisscross between these zones all the time even when you’re trying to ride steady. A lot of it comes down to experience with the feelings.

At the low end of tempo, you’ll notice an uptick in your breathing relative to endurance pace. You’ll also notice that you have to focus on the effort to maintain it, unlike easy pacing where you can just zone out. I find that when I zone out at endurance, I sometimes ride too hard. If I zone out riding tempo, I go too easy. Tempo you can still talk OK. Not full sentences without gasping, but several words easily before you want a breath. (Endurance you can just talk and breath between sentences).

Threshold should feel much harder - you know you can sustain that power for a while but not hours. You’ll feel the burning sensation in your legs but it’s not overwhelming. You probably don’t really want to talk to anyone because you have to focus on breathing… but you can still get some words out if you need to. You are focused entirely on the effort to maintain power.

Sweet Spot is just high tempo/low threshold so just aim in between and don’t worry about it. You’re not wrecking the workout if you ride at 85% instead of 92%, and not many people are going to be able to tell the difference until they’re about 30 minutes into the ride anyway!