During conditioning rides, do you ride for time or distance?
I've been mulling this over, and started a comment on her blog, then realized I had a bit to share on the topic. I find I tend to use a bit of both methods. Most often, I will ride for miles though, or rather a specific trail loop I have in mind. I generally do my long rides slower than endurance pace (around 4.5 - 5 mph overall). I don't like riding out-and-backs, so being able to go ride xxx specific loop, I know that I'll be getting in that set number of miles. However, I don't always choose a loop due to it's length, but rather the features of that particular trail:
- Deep sandy footing to work on tendon and ligament strength
- Long steady hill climbs to build muscular fitness
- Shorter, steeper hills that I work at a faster/harder pace to build aerobic capacity
- Long periods of nice footing, to work on sustained gaits at a certain speed
- Technical trail for mental focus and learning to watch foot placement
If I'm short on time to ride, I would rather have a training session of some sort than try to fit in any type of "conditioning." I'm not the best in that I value my personal time very highly, and understand the importance of rest and mental down-time for my health. So if I have a free hour of time, I'm much more likely to spend that OFF the horse than ON. I enjoy my saddle time too much to try to rush through it due to time constraints. Very rarely do I ride for less than one hour, if I'm taking the time to saddle up, then I'm going to enjoy that time for a more extended period. This means that my horse looses out on the benefit of those short, quick, "get 5 miles in" type of rides, but he's much more likely to experience being out on the trail for hours on end. Since January, Diego was ridden according to time:
- Two rides that were one-hour long and approximately 5 miles
- One 2.5 hour lesson, shared with a friend so he was "worked" about 1/2 that time and we rested or did exercises on our own the remainder
- Two rides that were between 4-5 hours long and about 20 miles each
- One 6 hour 30-mile ride
What preference do you tend to have for your riding? Time or distance?
**Posting and/or updating posts here on occassion with a picture so I can add to my Endurance - The Ride of a Lifetime Pinterest board, which is where I'm also compiling some Endurance 101 Clinic ideas. Original article source will be linked when applicable.