I often get into chats (sometimes heated) with athletes and other coaches about endurance, aerobic, base, foundation etc rides vs high intensity all the time and which is better. Well both are important and have a place throughout a season of training. But for some reason there is a notion it has to be one or the other.
There comes a point when if you only have 5 hours per week to ride, yeah you may need to keep things spicy as 5 x 1 hour endurance rides isn't really working on endurance at all. But when you get closer to 10-12 hours a week of training time including at least 1 Long workout a week can be a HUGE help.
I like to go by the x2 rule, take the duration of your race like a 90 minute XCO race or 3 hour road race multiply by 2 and that's what you should aim for as a long weekly workout. Maybe not week in and week out, but if your going to be competitive in a 100km road race you should be able to comfortably ride for 5-6 hours once race season rolls around. Or 3 hours in the case of an XCO race.
In short I am not a believer in high intensity 365 days a year 6 days a week etc etc. I do believe that endurance, base, foundation lsd.... whatever you want to call it and its benefits will play a big role in your capacity to recover faster, have a more consistent season, and become more efficient on the bike.
Now comes the conudrum some people hate riding their bikes for long durations without going hard, up climbs, into the wind, sign sprinting, strava hunting etc etc. So what to do if you can't just go for a bike ride and enjoy the scenery. (even if you can just go enjoy the scenery keep reading)
Lay out a focus for that ride, challenge yourself to ride at a higher rpm for the whole ride or break it into intervals. Reverse that and ride at a lower RPM, watch your joints for pain but work on grinding if your naturally a spinner and vice versa. Do you normally sit a lot on climbs? Well then get out of the saddle and climb while working on your rythem, usually climb standing? guess what? Climb seated and build your hip strength. All of these can be done all while keeping your HR or Wattage or RPE or whatever you use to gauge your effort right where you want it. Usually drink right handed? Drink left handed. You can get creative and find ways to challenge yourself without just adding wattage or going harder.
Training is about challenging yourself and improving your range of abilites. Bike Racing is dynamic and challenges you if all you do is ride one loop all the time, at X rpm and Y wattage and with Z people, thats great but when you go race and its V course, and you need to ride at between C-D rpm and A-Z wattage with R riders. Its good to have worked on those things.
random ramblings from the corner