Question: I am a new rider primarily interested in fitness. I got my bike in August and began to ride seriously in September, four days a week, about 30 minutes per ride. I average around 90% of max heart rate. I’m totally spent when I get back home. Should I continue to ride this hard to get the most from my training time? — Bill P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: The answer is twofold, Bill.
First, you should ride at that hard intensity only two or three days per week. On the other days, spin easily to let your body and head recover. A ton of mental stress accompanies repetitive hard rides. You definitely shouldn’t feel “totally spent” when you get home, except on rare occasions.
Second, consider adding a longer ride at a steady pace once per week. A continual dose of 30-minute rides will give you one-dimensional fitness without much endurance.
The trick to developing maximum cycling fitness is to go really hard when you go hard and then go very easy when you go easy. You don’t get fit from hard work. That’s only the catalyst for improvement. You actually get stronger when you’re resting between hard efforts.
I address this concept in my eBook Basic Training for Roadies.