Training On The Commute
Maintaining summer form through the off-season can be tricky, but if you’re a frequent commuter you have an ace card up your sleeve! Why revolve your schedule around training when you can make training revolve around you? The ride that you considered as a means of getting to and from the office can become an effective way to train during the week, giving you the opportunity to work on your fitness while heading to and from work. With that being said, here are some of our favourite commute-friendly training session top tips!
Traffic Light Sprints
Inner-city commutes can be very stop/start in nature, thanks to the sheer quantity of traffic lights dotted around. This can make sustaining a steady effort much more difficult, however, when life gives you lemons… make sprintervals! Treat each green light like it’s the final 200m of the Champs Elysee, and recover in between – the rapid changes in heart rate will force adaptation, teaching your body how to effectively use its anaerobic capacity. Keep this up, and before long you’ll be dominating all of the town sign sprints on your local club run!
Keep Things Sweet(spot)
For the time-crunched rider, fitting in long endurance rides isn’t always on the cards, but all hope is not lost! If you’ve ever put time and research into training, the term ‘sweetspot’ gets thrown around a lot, and for good reason. It’s an excellent bang for your buck training zone, and while you can’t beat endurance rides, sweetspot will provide a similar training effect but without the time commitment. For those with a power meter or heart rate monitor, the sweetspot zone sits on the cusp of tempo and threshold, or a perceived effort of 7/10. Sweetspot is great, but try not to do it too frequently, the last thing you want to do is go overboard and create a backlog of fatigue!
Pre- Or Post-Work Laps
Commutes can often be short in duration, but to extend things consider throwing in some laps in on your way to work by heading to Richmond Park (other parks are available). This is a haven for early-risers, serving as the perfect destination for the training-centric cyclist – 5am chaingangs aren’t an uncommon sight around these parts! From short sharp efforts to drawn out tempo sessions, sweating out those morning blues has never been easier. Less traffic means you can concentrate on your effort, and you don’t have to travel far to get there – just make sure you’re courteous to others and watch out for dog walkers!
Never underestimate the importance of a recovery ride. Treating the legs to a super easy spin a couple of times a week will do wonders for your ability to train, as it allows the chance for your muscles to recover so they can give it the beans next time around. Plus, it’s a good excuse to have a nice casual ride before a busy day, you could even push the boat out with a pre-work coffee stop! During a recovery ride, you shouldn’t feel any pressure on the pedals – throw it in the small ring and spin to your heart's content. It’s worth allowing for a little more transit time on recovery days – running late will only result in a mad rush, which won’t do your recovery or productivity any good!
Preparation Is Key
Let’s face it, if you’re training hard on the way to the office things are going to get sweaty, so to save an uncomfortable day at the desk, bring a change of clothes! If you’re really organised, consider taking all the clothes you need for the week on Monday, it’ll save you having to worry about it on the days where you really want to focus on your training ride.
Nutrition is also something that needs to be considered. Though you may be completing the same old commute, implementing training into these rides means you’ll be burning even more calories. Sometimes it can be hard to get enough food in during the day at the office, so make sure you keep some snacks stashed away so you can keep yourself fuelled for the return journey.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge you need, train away. Stay consistent and you’ll be smashing your PRs in no time, even during the winter! It’s important to note that when it comes to training, it’s not worth stressing yourself out about it – if you miss a training session here or there because you’re feeling tired or fatigued, it’s no biggie. Ultimately it’s all about enjoying your riding, do that and the fitness will follow!