Some of our members will think this information is not for them – they don’t want to race, it’s just for fun, they don’t want to spend money on expensive equipment and time looking at data; or even that they feel nervous about pushing their bodies too hard.
Don’t worry! We can begin by simply raising awareness of how our bodies are responding during our rides and this can help us get the most out of our time on the bike. Often, data driven performance analysis can lose sight of how we are actually feeling on the bike and this can lead to training mistakes like “over training”. This is why coaches are including how their riders are feeling in their performance analysis.
A well-established way of determining how we are feeling is Rate of Perceived Exertion – or put simply, how hard we feel we are working in that moment.
The RPE we aim for will change depending what our ride is. During a club ride, there may be moments at the 8-9 effort – aiming for a PR up a hill - but this effort is not sustainable for the whole ride. It is more likely that club riders will be at moderate to vigorous effort levels, depending on the speed of the group. There will be times of light activity, while we regroup/ eat cake 😊
10-mile TTs are all out efforts. We may drop to vigorous effort at some point downhill, but we need to be aiming for our effort to be in the 8-10 range, to get the most fun out of the ride 😉
RPE gets both interesting and useful when we consider that it can change from day to day, even though the ride is the same. We can go up a hill one day and feel that our effort was a 7-8. We can go up the same hill another day, with the same weather conditions, at the same speed and feel like our effort is 9-10. Why is this? What factors effect RPE?
- How rested are we? How many rides have we done this week and at what effort? Would we be better recovering with a level 3 effort ride? Or do our legs need a wake up with some short hard efforts?
- Have we had a lot of stress at work/home. Stress is stress, whether it’s “training stress” or life.
- SLEEP Both an indicator of high stress and an antidote to it.
- How hydrated are we? This can have a big impact on how we feel.
- COFFEE for those who respond well to caffeine (like me) it can really reduce RPE, enabling us to feel better pushing harder. Unfortunately, it also reduces sleep, when taken too late in the day.
- What we eat both off and on the bike can have a big impact on our energy levels. Just having a closer look at what we are eating and tweeking that a little, can help us get the maximum enjoyment out of riding.........more about that next time.