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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I commute to and from a train station for work each day and would like to use this time to improve my fitness (I typically finish near the back of any CX or XC race I enter)

Morning:
13 miles from house to train station
2 miles from train station to work, mostly up a gradual hill

Afternoon:
2 miles from work to train station, mostly downhill
13 miles from train station to house, including a steep 2-mile climb (3-4 minutes to descend, 35-45ish minutes to climb if I'm carrying stuff)

I use 2 bikes, an 8 kg Roubaix road bike (more in the summer since I'm in Washington state) and a 15-25 kg Fargo that I converted to a commuter (rear rack and panniers and 'stuff' make up the extra weight)
I also have a single speed cross bike that is pretty light and fun to ride. i can include that in the training/commuting if it is worthwhile.

I typically ride a bit with my wife on the weekends, but those are very casual rides. I have time on weekends to knock out some serious gravel miles though after my ride with my wife.

Food-wise I'm on point (already working with dietician) so I'm looking at trying to "ride smarter". I have a heart rate strap and a Garmin that does heart rate, cadence, speed, mileage, elevation but no power meter or anything like that.

I guess my main questions:
1. Should I work hard during the ascents (hill climbing is probably my weakest fitness point because i'm heavy - powerlifter turned injured and fat former powerlifter) or should I try to take it easy during the climbs
2. Should I drop the idea of riding 4 or 5 days per week since i have to do 2 separate rides each day, or is it possible to structure "easy" rides in there with "harder" rides without overdoing it?
3. For the purposes of training, would it be smarter to "load up" the cargo bike on Mondays with week's worth of food and clothes for work (thereby making Monday morning a 'killer'), or just carry a little bit each day?
4. I can drive to the train station to cut out a substantial amount of volume on some days. That would leave me with, basically, a 15-minute commute twice a day on days I drive to the train station

so yeah, help a brother out here. I've been commuting for over 2 years and have seen very little improvement in my fitness and I'd love to change that.
 

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How much variation do you put into your commuting efforts? On the surface I would guess that maybe you're doing a pretty steady effort most of the time?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How much variation do you put into your commuting efforts? On the surface I would guess that maybe you're doing a pretty steady effort most of the time?
I pretty much ride...whatever. I don't do any type of interval training or speed work or anything like that. My speed is basically dictated by the hills. I try to maintain a certain "oomph" in how I feel so that it's a good bit above "easy" but not so high that I feel trashed when I'm done. I know I don't keep my cadence high enough, and that probably would help out a lot as it apparently will help "teach" me to pedal in circles rather than just mashing downward which is kinda what I do now
 

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I think you're in a kind of steady effort no-mans land. As I understand it, we need variation to build speed and power. There are many here more knowledgeable than me, but you will want to make a training plan that uses your commuting opportunities to introduce some hard intervals of a several minutes, some sprints, some hard hill efforts, easy recovery rides, and some rest days. When I was commuting, I'd do my hard efforts on the way home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think you're in a kind of steady effort no-mans land. As I understand it, we need variation to build speed and power. There are many here more knowledgeable than me, but you will want to make a training plan that uses your commuting opportunities to introduce some hard intervals of a several minutes, some sprints, some hard hill efforts, easy recovery rides, and some rest days. When I was commuting, I'd do my hard efforts on the way home.
so htat's one of the things I don't quite get.

how many hard efforts? what constitutes a 'hard effort'? how long does each ahrd effort last, and can I do them everyday of the week? :D

yeah, I know, too many doggone questions. haha
 

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so htat's one of the things I don't quite get.

how many hard efforts? what constitutes a 'hard effort'? how long does each ahrd effort last, and can I do them everyday of the week? :D

yeah, I know, too many doggone questions. haha
A lot of the answers depends on your age and recovery abilities. For me, I'd pick two days...say Tuesday and Thursday and try to do hard intervals on your ride home from the train station and mix up the length of the intervals from week to week. For instance, on Tuesday you could sprint all the little hills and stop signs at your maximum so that you're gasping for air as you crest the top or reach the sign, then on Thursday pick a section of your commute that takes you about 30 minutes to complete and ride it as fast as you possibly can like a time trial. As your training progresses and your fitness improves, the section that used to take you 30 minutes to ride should come down to 28 minutes, then 27 minutes, and so forth. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday just ride easy at 100 rpm cadence for recovery. Interval days should be HARD and recovery days should be EASY.

Training in the middle all the time just leaves you tired and slow.
 

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If only I had room to store my suits and could commute each day, I would average an extra 4 hours more per week of training.

It sounds like you may need to invest in a heartrate monitor first if you are asking about "how hard." I wont get into the details of rest days because I am terrible about observing them and many after me will chime in and some will reference the various training resources and "bibles" that you should read.

Strava makes the commute better, IMO.

I would incorporate intervals into some commutes home and work on Hill attacks on the way into work.

The trip home is a great time to go out of your way to find singletrack or turn the commute into a nice long ride home whether it be hard effort or a zone 2 ride. 30
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It sounds like you may need to invest in a heartrate monitor first if you are asking about "how hard."
I have a heartrate monitor. I have consistently reached a max heart rate of 189 during CX races and my average is 181

I wont get into the details of rest days because I am terrible about observing them and many after me will chime in and some will reference the various training resources and "bibles" that you should read.
yes yes. Bibles are good. I spent enough time on the internet as a powerlifter to know that the internet is full of (really bad) information. I just don't know enough to sift through the crap and pick out the gems

Strava makes the commute better, IMO.
I gotta get that set up. Only real issue is that the # of stop lights and stop signs I have to go through will have way too much of an influence on my times

turn the commute into a nice long ride home whether it be hard effort or a zone 2 ride. 30
no idea what a zone 2 ride is. Time to work my google-fu... thanks for the response!
 

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Stonerider had some good advice above. Getting better is all about intervals that push limits and then proper recovery.

If you're very serious, find a coach to put together a specific plan tailored to you. If you just want to do well in some races, find a "time crunched" workout plan and then modify it to your needs. Lynda Wallenfels (sp?) used to have some good ones that were not very expensive. When you start to look at crunched plans, they'll generally have you doing an hour or so ride each day and prescribe specific intervals. Just try to follow along as best you can and focus on completing the intervals or main set.

You can also pick up Joe Friels Training Bible and put something together on your own.
 

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I miss commuting by bike. Some days I'd "take the long way home" and mix in some real training.

Carmichael's book, "The Tone Crunched Cyclist" covers your situation pretty well and if you just want a list of workouts to do on different days, it's in there. Basically the idea is to ride easy in the morning, then modify your afternoon commute to include some interval training. He'll give you the workouts.

When I had both a safe place to keep it during the day and the ability to commute on it, I used my road race bike. You think about how much time you spend commuting vs. rides that are for you, and it can make sense to commute something really nice. On the other hand, leaving your bike locked outside or running errands on the way home can change that. But you can still choose to ride a road bike with a similar riding position to your race bike.

For me, riding seven days a week wouldn't really permit recovery but I'm fine riding six days a week if some are mellower. So for you, if you ride both weekend days, I could see dropping one bike commute day. There might be a practical reason to do that anyway: maybe you want to drive to the office once a week to pick up laundry and drop off clean clothes to wear next week or to buy more groceries than comfortably fit in your panniers or you'll drive to some customer sites during the day or something.

Some of my old teammates managed to be both normal, happy adults with spouses, friends and children and also monsters on their bikes by exploiting the training time a commute offers. :)

Sent from my E5803 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I miss commuting by bike. Some days I'd "take the long way home" and mix in some real training.

Carmichael's book, "The Tone Crunched Cyclist" covers your situation pretty well and if you just want a list of workouts to do on different days, it's in there. Basically the idea is to ride easy in the morning, then modify your afternoon commute to include some interval training. He'll give you the workouts.

When I had both a safe place to keep it during the day and the ability to commute on it, I used my road race bike. You think about how much time you spend commuting vs. rides that are for you, and it can make sense to commute something really nice. On the other hand, leaving your bike locked outside or running errands on the way home can change that. But you can still choose to ride a road bike with a similar riding position to your race bike.

For me, riding seven days a week wouldn't really permit recovery but I'm fine riding six days a week if some are mellower. So for you, if you ride both weekend days, I could see dropping one bike commute day. There might be a practical reason to do that anyway: maybe you want to drive to the office once a week to pick up laundry and drop off clean clothes to wear next week or to buy more groceries than comfortably fit in your panniers or you'll drive to some customer sites during the day or something.

Some of my old teammates managed to be both normal, happy adults with spouses, friends and children and also monsters on their bikes by exploiting the training time a commute offers. :)

Sent from my E5803 using Tapatalk
Great stuff Andrew thanks. Yeah I actually have an indoor bike cage at my work that you have to use your employee badge to get into. It has locks inside and is monitored so I really need to take advantage of this. Definitely going to look into some of these resources thanks
 

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Since you said you're tired, I would cut down some of the rides for now, the '2 a days' might be a bit much for where you're at right now since you are feeling tired and slow, Maybe ride every other day?, and take 2 days off once in a while too. What's the 2 mile hill?, I think I live near you, I'm curious.
I would be thinking about making the easier days and trips to work lower effort, and make that long hill a really hard effort once a week, as easy as possible on the other days (maybe ride your mtn bike for a lower gear). Do a couple of hard intervals (2-5min ea) one other day a week with some easy recovery between, and 5 to 10 ten second sprints one of the other days. -just for a starting point.
Are you racing the Budu series this spring?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Since you said you're tired, I would cut down some of the rides for now, the '2 a days' might be a bit much for where you're at right now since you are feeling tired and slow, Maybe ride every other day?, and take 2 days off once in a while too. What's the 2 mile hill?, I think I live near you, I'm curious.
I would be thinking about making the easier days and trips to work lower effort, and make that long hill a really hard effort once a week, as easy as possible on the other days (maybe ride your mtn bike for a lower gear). Do a couple of hard intervals (2-5min ea) one other day a week with some easy recovery between, and 5 to 10 ten second sprints one of the other days. -just for a starting point.
Are you racing the Budu series this spring?
ok, let's see here

"What's the 2 mile hill?"

Fruitland Ave, the hill that leads from West Pioneer down in Puyallup up to 112th Street E, the road that connects Canyon to the South Hill Mall, goes right past Costco, etc.

yes, i'm racing Budu this spring.
 

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That's a good steady grind, - having only driven up that one. 6 weeks from Sunday until racing starts, yikes!!
 
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