Profile objective: To have fun, sweat, and celebrate being with your community!
For those who know me well, that profile objective may surprise you coming from me! It’s a well-established fact that having a more focused objective to target a certain energy system or physical or physiological adaptation is the best way to improve fitness. It’s important for athletes who want to improve performance, but having a narrow objective is also important for non-athletes as it helps riders of all ages and abilities improve every area of their fitness: strength, endurance, lactate threshold, anaerobic endurance and capacity, not to mention specific technique-improvement goals.
That said…there is a time and a place for just getting together and sweating it out with your riders. There are times when you simply want to create community with your participants.
I initially put together this ride for instructors to use as a first class (or among the first few classes) after studios and clubs open back up following the coronavirus lockdown. All of the songs are chosen to make you smile and to reflect; some are there to inspire you to push harder; some may even bring a tear to the eye. Make sure to listen to the lyrics of all the songs. The title of the profile, “A Light in a Dark Place,” comes from the lyrics of the first song. This profile can be used anytime you want to celebrate being together as a group, not just post-lockdown.
You are going to have a wide range of fitness levels when you first come back after many months off. During the lockdown, some of your riders may have had access to a bike at home; perhaps you did livestream classes. Others may not have had that advantage. It’s important to recognize this difference and to offer modifications while also offering encouragement. You don’t want your more fit riders to feel bored or your less fit riders to feel bad they can’t do what they used to do. Those who may have gained weight and lost fitness are going to need emotional support as well so they don’t beat themselves up.
This ride has no specific physiological objectives other than raising the heart rate and cardiovascular conditioning. Intensity rises and falls, not so much like a structured interval workout, but more like an unstructured workout with options to push hard or just stay where you are. The harder-intensity efforts are short and are just a suggestion; those who are ready and able to push hard are invited to do so. Those who are coming back from months of inactivity are invited to just do what they can and not worry about going hard.
Your number one goal for this profile, however, is to have fun, enjoy each other, and celebrate that you are all back in the studio, sweating and working hard together.
The stated intensity goes to Zone 4 (FTP). For those without power, that is a level of “hard.” There should be no “breathlessness” in this profile. Several of the songs start out at the easy level (Zone 1 or 2) as a brief recovery before increasing intensity again. It’s not a long recovery, but then again, intensity doesn’t go to breathless so longer recoveries may not be needed. That is, unless you have very unfit riders who need more—always give them that option. There is only one planned full song as recovery, which can be taken in Zone 1 or 2, depending on the rider.
I provide the intensity as “zones,” but if you don’t train with power or heart rate zones, here are what the four zones of this profile mean:
- Zone 1: Warm-up, cool-down, very easy recovery. Invite less fit riders to come back here at the beginning of every song.
- Zone 2: Active recovery, endurance zone. Not quite as easy as Zone 1; it feels like you are working but can sustain for a long time. Feels good. Can speak in full sentences.
- Zone 3: Working pace. The lower end of this zone feels moderate and the upper end feels somewhat hard but still sustainable. Heart rate and breathing rate are much more apparent. Less fit riders may not need to go above this level. Can still speak but it becomes uncomfortable.
- Zone 4: Lactate threshold zone. “Hard” but not breathless. Note that FTP (functional threshold power) lies in the upper third of this zone. I would suggest you stay below, or maybe right up to, FTP. While speaking is still possible in very broken sentences, you would prefer not to talk.
Whenever you see “Zone 4” in this profile, offer it as a suggestion for those who feel they want to push themselves, but also let the class know they can stay in Zone 3 and just go to what feels “moderately hard.”