Tips for training with Perceived Exertion- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Tips for training with Perceived Exertion

    First off, I'm new at this whole endurance training thing, and I have searched a bit about RPE training and found some useful info but most of it was intended for people who have already been training with HR monitors and whatnot.

    Second, I'm not training for any particular race. I would like to increase my overall stamina towards a goal of doing some long distance cycle touring/ bikepacking where in I want to be able to ride for most of the day at a moderate pace, sometimes day after day, and not be wiped out. In the event that I want to really get into competitive endurance racing, I will probably get a training plan and a HR monitor.

    I know the most common advice is just to ride more and ride often, but I want to go about it in a semi structured way so that I get the most benefits from my rides. So I have a few questions:

    What are some good methods to establish the training zones w/o using a HR monitor? How hard should I be going for "sweet spot training"?
    How easy should I go on "recovery rides"?

    I also enjoy trail running, how can I mix that in to effectively improve stamina?
    How much training is too much?

    Any input is much appreciated and I hope this thread can be of help to people like me who are just getting into endurance training and may be overloaded by all the technical aids that seem to be involved.
    Last edited by jmctav23; 03-31-2011 at 03:01 AM.

  2. #2
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    I'm a reasonably successful endurance racer in the "old guy" class. Until last year, I resisted even owning a HR monitor, let alone actually using one. Last year, I gave in to having THE DATA, and it helped, but you definitely can do without, especially if you aren't necessarily gunning for the podium.

    Before the first 100 of the season, I just used to build endurance with the following general plan (of course, with a casual approach, FUN can always trump sticking to a schedule):

    1. Three months before race: Two or three two-hour rides a week at a moderate pace. Two alternate activities on off days.

    2. Two months before race: Three or four three-hour rides a week at a bit tougher pace. One alternate activity on off days.

    3. One month (more like 6 weeks) before race: Two or three of the above at max sustainable pace, and one or two five-hour rides at slightly lower pace.

    That worked well for me, but I have to admit that last year, with just a little use of the HRM, the races were less painful, and recovery time was shorter.

    Enjoy!
    Whining is not a strategy.

  3. #3
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    Over the years, I've used a heart rate monitor sporadically, mostly on days I need to keep my HR down. I've got a trainer that has a power readout and I use it in the winter, and it really, really helps, but I could never use a powermeter for regular riding. I'm quite sure it would suck all the fun out of riding. I don't mind monitoring power on the trainer, 'cause that ain't fun anyway.

    As for perceived exertion, I'd say that's been my approach for going on 22 years now. It's worked really well for me (mostly).

    I take a somewhat Gump-like approach, "I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmctav23
    What are some good methods to establish the training zones w/o using a HR monitor?
    Breath rate can be used to roughly judge exertion. If you can't speak normally, without pausing to take extra breaths, then you're probably starting to go into debt. Find a couple of sentences that you've said many times and innately know your normal breathing pattern for, and use those to judge how hard your working. Limericks work well for this.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmctav23
    First off, I'm new at this whole endurance training thing, and I have searched a bit about RPE training and found some useful info but most of it was intended for people who have already been training with HR monitors and whatnot.

    Second, I'm not training for any particular race. I would like to increase my overall stamina towards a goal of doing some long distance cycle touring/ bikepacking where in I want to be able to ride for most of the day at a moderate pace, sometimes day after day, and not be wiped out. In the event that I want to really get into competitive endurance racing, I will probably get a training plan and a HR monitor.

    I know the most common advice is just to ride more and ride often, but I want to go about it in a semi structured way so that I get the most benefits from my rides. So I have a few questions:

    What are some good methods to establish the training zones w/o using a HR monitor? How hard should I be going for "sweet spot training"?Just above your comfort zone with some intervals thrown in
    How easy should I go on "recovery rides"?Much slower than you want to ride

    I also enjoy trail running, how can I mix that in to effectively improve stamina?
    How much training is too much? Time your rides if you are getting slower you are over training....at least a complete day of rest a week
    Any input is much appreciated and I hope this thread can be of help to people like me who are just getting into endurance training and may be overloaded by all the technical aids that seem to be involved.

    Good luck start with 5 hours a week work up to 10 hours a week. Total cardio time

  6. #6
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    Power meter people will tell you hr is not adquate for training data, hr people will tell you RPE is not adaquate for data, and RPE people don't usually care either way. I use hr and RPE to gather data and in general they correlate most of the time, sometimes when there are external factors like not eating right, hydrating right, sleeping right, RPE is higher than normal for a given hr but its not common. I wouldn't recommend training solely with RPE but I also realize people trained for years prior to technology so it can be done.

    I read a post somewhere that had a funny phrase for setting up your limits using RPE and this is my attempt at remembering how it went but something like this:

    I can talk- Zone 1
    I,can,talk- Zone 2
    I...can...talk- Zone 3
    I........CAN.......TALK- Zone 4
    What was I trying to say????? Zone 5+

    Just curious but why are you against using a hr monitor?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crosstown Stew
    I read a post somewhere that had a funny phrase for setting up your limits using RPE and this is my attempt at remembering how it went but something like this:

    I can talk- Zone 1
    I,can,talk- Zone 2
    I...can...talk- Zone 3
    I........CAN.......TALK- Zone 4
    What was I trying to say????? Zone 5+

    Just curious but why are you against using a hr monitor?
    I'm not against it in any way, I just don't want to spend the money on a decent one at the moment. I barely even have cycling gear (one pair of padded tights for winter, haven't even got shorts yet), I need to buy camping gear to do overnight stuff, panniers and bike bags to put said camping gear in. Hell I'm still rollin on craptastic stock pedals that came on my bike.

    Thanks for all the info so far.

  8. #8
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    Haha, I remember the feeling man..... When I first got into riding I was making about 250 a week washing dishes in college and I remember looking at parts for my bike in how many shifts they cost. Totally understand and best of luck with training, you'll be fine doing RPE.

    On a side note, for me getting started that way into cycling really makes you value things differently when you get older and actually have a decent paying job. I still am frugal with my spending and do all my own wrenching but you'll be better for it in the long run man, just stay with it.

  9. #9
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    So this is what last week ended up with:
    Monday: one hour trail run (probably around a 9 1/2 min mile pace) felt great the whole time, was stopped by my shitty shoes rubbing painfully
    Tuesday: 2 hr mtb ride, mix of flat two track, some hilly single track, some really brutal mashing through snow. So probably zone 2-3 with a few harder efforts.
    Wednesday: Timed 3 mile run on a track to get a feel for my jog pace. Just under 9 minute miles. Felt good.
    Thursday: Easy Zone 1 recovery ride, 35 minutes long. Should I be going longer on recovery rides?
    Friday: Short (40 minutes) fast ride zone 3, cut short by a drenching rainstorm.
    Saturday: Hour or so of easy riding round the city with my wife, zone 1
    Sunday: hour and a half of easy riding round the city with my wife, also found some new singletrack YAY. zone 1

    So around 7 hours total for the week. A few more questions:

    Can I do core workouts (that don't involve legs much) on recovery days?
    How important is it to stay in whatever zone you set out to train in? Say I want to go for a long zone 2 endurance ride, can I throw in short bits of hilly singletrack where I get into zone 3-4 or do I just have to slog it out for 3-5 hours on a paved flat bike path (boring)?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmctav23
    Can I do core workouts (that don't involve legs much) on recovery days?
    IMO, core strength is hugely important for mtb riding/racing, and doing core workouts on recovery days is about perfect, especially for those of us (raising my hand here) that have a really hard time doing absolutely nothing on recovery days.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  11. #11
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    From the questions you are asking jmctav you might want to pick up some light reading like The Cyclist Training Bibile, Serious Cycling, Time Crunched Cyclist. They should give you some basic understanding of different types of training methods and practices because depending on what your training goals are, it's tough to answer your questions .

    "How important is it to stay in whatever zone you set out to train in? Say I want to go for a long zone 2 endurance ride, can I throw in short bits of hilly singletrack where I get into zone 3-4 or do I just have to slog it out for 3-5 hours on a paved flat bike path (boring)?"

    A lot of people throw in some short intervals, sprints, build ups, jumps in their LSD rides and I don't think there's any problems with that, just have some structure to it or your likely to waste your energy in the long run. If you really want to stay in specific zones while training try finding a used trainer somewhere.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the book suggestions, I'll have a look at getting a hold of one. I didn't start this thread with the intention of getting free coaching from you experienced guys. I have been doing research (online, so I know free training info is limited) about endurance in different sports and there just seems to be a lack of info about training using RPE.

    Lots of people swear by Power meters ($$$$) and those that don't only reference HR monitors ($$) but come on, people were doing tons of endurance training and events before these technology "aids" came along. Half the training info I find just looks like shadow marketing for these devices (and probably is).

  13. #13
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    I agree, people did fine without technology and still won races, and I think you can train just fine with RPE but it requires doing a good amount of research and reading. Most of the books I talked about refer to hr training and RPE, but if you could borrow someone's hr monitor so that you could know what your zones are, there are several ways to calculate your zones via max hr or actual road testing and this would give you a sense of what the different zones feel like to your body. For everyone it's different but for me usually like this
    Zone 1- RPE 5-7
    Zone 2- RPE 7-10
    Zone 3- RPE 10-14
    Zone 4- 14-18
    Zone 5+- 18-20

    This is not absolute but they usually correlate somewhat and there are variables that can alter these relationships, ie bad night of sleep but 3 days of rested legs might give a low RPE but high hr so not absolute but generally correlate.

    Just think if you could get this data for yourself you would eliminate a lot of guess work and uncertainty. Most people that use RPE have cycled for many years, especially the guys from pre-technology era that won races, and know their bodies extremely well, to the point they could guesstamate their hr or power at any given point and be fairly close. Just my .02

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