How to use your cycling commute as training | Commute Smart

How to use your cycling commute as training | Commute Smart

Finding the time to get quality miles in when
training for an event can be a struggle. By using your commute though these rides can
be so much more than just rides to and from work. We’re going to give you some tips to
make the most of your cycling commutes. On your ride home you’re in your kit and out
on your bike already so why not extend your commute to make it more worthwhile. You may
need to think a little bit about your nutrition during the afternoon to make sure you’re
fueled for the ride but adding some quality extra miles is a very time efficient way to
train. Either on your inbound commute or your ride home you can include efforts or some
hill reps. If you are not following a specific training plan it’s important that you understand
how to monitor your training. Using either a heart rate or power to determine the
length and intensity of the efforts that you factor into your commute. Once you understand
intensity and have an idea of the area of cycling fitness you want to target you can
tailor your efforts to suit these. Tabata is a popular form of high intensity, interval
style of training that has been proven through research to dramatically increase fitness.
Incorporating it into your commute will give you the best bang of your buck fitness returns.
To perform this session warm up well for at least ten minutes and find a quiet stretch
of road without any junctions or sharp bends. If you can find a moderate gradient hill it
can help you to keep up the intensity. Perform the same twenty second sprints with ten second recoveries. If you’re not used to this form of high intensity workout it would be a good
idea to start with just three to five reps and then build up to the full seven to eight
reps. Once you’ve completed this warn down for the rest of your commute. If you’re commute
is between thirty and sixty minutes in duration riding carbohydrate fasted is an excellent
way to develop riding economy, enhance your bodies ability to burn fat as a fuel and facilitate
weight maintenance or loss. Don’t eat before setting off on your bike ride but you may
have some water or a black tea or coffee. In your bike bottle you can have a protein
drink to sip during the ride. This won’t impact the benefits of the session but will help
you to recover quicker from it. You should ride in zones one to two as with low blood
sugar levels you will not be able to sustain any harder efforts. Make sure you have a good
breakfast ready when you get to work as you will feel very hungry. It’s essential that
you don’t attempt too many high intensity sessions. Ignore this and you’ll reduce your
training returns and risk over training. A good rule of thumb is that a hard day which
can be demanding regarding intensity or duration should always be followed by an easy day.
A genuine recovery ride is an excellent use of a morning commute, especially when you’ve done a tough ride the evening before. It will speed up your recovery from a hard
or long ride the previous day or give your legs a gentle reminder of what you expect
from them if planning a big ride the next day. Ride a flat route, keep the bike in the
small chain ring and spin super easy. You should barely feel as if you are applying
any pressure on the pedals at all. The entire ride should be in zone one. So make sure you
allow some extra time on your commute if necessary. The so called sweet-spot zone is a great intensity
to train at. It is found at the point between the upper end of tempo and the lower end of
threshold. This translates into upper zone three and lower zone four. After warming up
for ten minutes ride efforts of up to twenty minutes at this intensity and you’ll soon
notice the benefit. Using this zone is a great way to incorporate some focused training into
a commute.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Ok , my work is 12 hour shifts with a 10mile each way commute , by the time i get home and had dinner and set up stuff for the next day i have maybe half an hour before bed time which i spend with the family , can you suggest a training regime and i don have time or the energy to extend my commute or do reps .

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