The Recovery Energy Zone. There -- I said it. My experience informs me that somewhat few facilities are actually programming a ride that is actually coached between 50 and 65 percent of MHR or APMHR. Why? The simplest answer seems to be that it does not seem to attract as many participants -- at least automatically.
Some wise words came to me from several sources -- not least of whom is Luciana, our MI Team Manager. She said, if I may be so bold as to paraphrase, that all we may really do is plant the seed. That seed is that properly periodized training not only should include regular visits to REZ, but that it must include them. Of course, some/most of us are able to phrase that in less stark terms than I just did. Mea culpa for my impolitic ways.
Rather than dip into the scientific rationale(s) for REZ rides as I have been given to do, I would like to offer (or perhaps reoffer) a way around the dilemma that we all face with REZ programming: popularity versus what is properly periodized training.
When we lead EEZ (Endurance Energy Zone) rides, which we also must concede are fairly conservative in their intensity (i.e., 65-75% MHR/APMHR for the most part), we may simply lead and model the Recovery Energy Zone. For example, when ride an EEZ ride alongside my class, I simply indicate that I am opting to maintain the same intensity that I have during warm-up (50-65%) as opposed to elevating that work by 10-25%. I explain why: the intensity of my surrounding training and the recovery from it necessitates that I do so.
So inasmuch as I extend the options for them to train anywhere between 65 and 80% MHR/APMHR (per the Manual revision) during the body of the ride, I also offer them a visualization of the panorama of their training week and the option of remaining at 50-65% in order to recover and rejuvenate (as opposed to overtraining syndrome and/or aerobic deficiency syndrome).
Believe it or not, I have had one consistent taker. That is one more than I might have had. One day this taker will notice the benefits of profound relaxation and peace, as well as suprising performance and health gains. On still another day, I may not feel the need to embed the REZ inside the EEZ. It will be again attractive in its own right.
Why have I not imposed the REZ on my class? One reason is that if I impose it, they may not actually embrace it. Another reason is that this group is relatively green to the Spinning® program as it should be. We have had to enable, or perhaps recreate, the ability to train at these lower heart rates. Formerly, virtually any meaningful, submaximal exercise stress would have delivered them immediately to the confines of 80% MHR/APMHR or greater, because their aerobic bases were as yet underdeveloped. Now, the majority are actually able to train at effort levels of 65% and less for extended periods of time.
That last anecdote sounds a great deal like me as a Spinning® participant some years ago -- whose heart rate would surge unfettered into the 160s. Our colleague, Betty Simmons, planted the seeds of endurance and recovery, as well as periodization. I would like to think she has left a legacy in this. Go ahead. Plant the seed; expand the legacy.