How Can I Best Use Commuting as Training?

Question:  This past fall, a job change meant a change to my commute. I now ride over 15 miles each way. This means my weekends are now recovery time instead of riding time. I can fit intervals into my commute twice a week and I can occasionally take a day off by getting a ride from a co-worker. But other than that, how can I, at 51 years old, use this commute time as a training benefit? —Harth H.

Coach David Ertl Replies:  Harth asks a great question. Too many people commute and then try to add their training on top of it instead of trying to integrate training into their commuting.

30 miles a day is quite substantial (150 miles per week from commuting alone). Because you're only riding 15 miles at a time, adding intensity to at least one leg of the commute is a good way to go.

But you shouldn't try to do that every day, or necessarily in both directions.

Some days should just be easy endurance-paced rides. Because of your age, 3-4 easy days or days off should be included in your schedule. You will still want to get in longer rides to build endurance if long rides are a goal of yours.

Consider a 'Mixed' Riding Schedule

Here is one possible way to incorporate both into your schedule:

Monday - drive/carpool to work. A day of rest following the weekend. Bring work clothes for the week.

Tuesday/Thursday - do intervals either going to or coming home from work (not both)

Wednesday - easy pace ride both directions

Friday - drive/carpool to work. A day of rest ahead of the weekend. Take home work clothes from the week.

Saturday and/or Sunday - (depending on energy level and recovery status) do a long endurance-pace ride of longer than 30 miles.

Coach David Ertl is a USA Level 1 cycling coach with the Peaks Coaching Group. He also is a national coach for the JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes Charity Ride program and writes the training blogs for RAGBRAI, the weeklong ride across Iowa every summer. He has written more than 10 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach David Ertl, including the best-selling Pedal Off the Pounds. Click to read David's full bio.


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