Training by Feel

If you don’t have a means of measuring heart-rate or power here’s a table that will help you to feel which zone you’re in.  If you do have a heart-rate monitor and power meter, it’s a useful exercise to pay attention to how you feel in each zone.

Feel can be measured using what they call ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion’ (RPE). The Borg Scale was developed using a rating of 1 to 20 and this was later reduced to 1 to 10. However as most training zones can be reduced to 1 to 5 it’s easier to use that.  You can always refine this to 10 once you get used to it.

Zone Intensity Legs Breathing Sweating
1 Recovery Easy spinning Easy Non Effortless pedalling.
2 Endurance Light resistance Light Light All day pace.
Relaxed pedalling
3 Tempo Some resistance Slightly deep Some Brisk riding for a couple of hours.
4 Threshold Some muscle pain Deep but controlled Heavy An effort you can maintain for 40-60 minutes
5 VO2max Lots of effort Panting
Can say odd words
Dripping You can keep this up for a few minutes
6 Anaerobic Maximum effort Soon get out of breath Dripping Sprint

What is Feel

Feel is based on your perceptions of how your body is feeling but there are also psychological factors as well.

 Physiological factors

     Local and general/centralised effects : Lactate levels and oxygen debt associated with anaerobic work are associated with local signals.

These are mainly muscular aches and pains. You may also feel these in your tendons and joints which is a good indication that you’re going too hard and should ease off before you cause any injuries.

Fatigue is another sensation.

     Central factors: These are more concerned with your cardio-vascular system.

  • Breathing = laboured, breathlessness
  • Heat-Rate = Blood circulation
  • Skin temperature = sweating

 Psychological Factors

Psychological factors can affect how you perceive your level of exertion.  Anxiety, depression; Extroverts and reducers have been found to have lower pain thresholds.

 Flow and RPE

When you get into a state of Flow your RPE will be reduced for a certain effort level. See Flow

 Feel and Technique

Riding by feel will help you to become a better cyclist. As you become more aware of your body and mind you’ll be able to pace yourself more effectively and learn to be more aware of your posture and pedaling style. This will help you to assess your fitness and fatigue.

Useful Links

Non-Athlete Fitness : How to Develop a Lasting Running Habit

Triradar : Triathlon Training by Feel : Train by Feel for Better Results : Learning to Run by Feel

Runners World : Learn to Run by Feel

Physical Therapy : Perceived Exertion

Sports Fitness Adviser : Health Benefits of Running

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