7 Ways to Fit Cycle Training Around A Busy Week

By on February 7, 2013
Getting ready to cycle to work

You’ve taken the plunge and signed up for your first 100-mile cycle event and can’t wait to give the cycling training all you’ve got…congratulations! But how are you realistically going to fit cycling training around a responsible job, family commitments, the weather and be in tiptop condition for your chosen epic 100-mile sportive?

By taking a ‘less is more’ approach to cycling training, you’ll find a better balance between work, play and cycling. You’ll start to see continual improvements not only in cycling form, but in all aspects of your life.

To find that balance and successfully finish your first 100-mile event, you need to adopt a quality, yet flexible approach to training. To do this you need to first know how to ‘manage time’ better around training.  Then, once you’ve freed up more time, it is then a case of looking at how productive you are with that time to get the best from your training.

Here’s 7 tips to becoming more productive in your training around a busy, working week:

Tip 1: Do the least amount of training for maximum gains in fitness!

When it comes to prepare for your first 100-miles it’s important not to go out and ride every single day.  This is because riding every day doesn’t actually get you any fitter than riding 4, or even as little as 3 times a week. Training when time starved is all about quality and consistency, not quantity. Riding every day will tire you out both mentally and physically.  You’ll always get more out of your cycling when you’re fresh and eager to train.

As a guideline, you need:

  • One long ride a week riding for 2 hours non stop, and progressing over the months to 4 or 5 hours in the saddle.  This is an imperative ride to complete each week, or every ten days.
  • One much faster, but shorter 1 hour ride (can be broken into two half an hour rides if commuting).
  • One faster race pace workout, preferably interval workout when you’re ready, performed either on turbo or in the hills.

Tip 2: Build in recovery and take recovery seriously:

Building in recovery days, or days off cycling is important to build your fitness. Without adequate recovery days, you won’t get fitter.  You’ll wind up tired, stale and overtrained. Remember that training breaks down your body, and it’s only recovery, i.e. a day off the bike, that builds you stronger.  If you are time-starved, then cycling training is not the only stress you have during a typical day.  As you know, you’re not a full time cyclist whose only stress is riding a bike. You must therefore identify and take into account the extra stresses you have in a day.  This is why training less days but upping the midweek ride intensity works so well.  You then get 3-4 days off the bike to rest – and make more time for your family.

Tip 3: Be super-flexible with which days you allocate as training days:

When you choose to ride just 3 days a week and focus only on those days training, you can become flexibile on your choice of days to train. The advantage is if the weather goes bad, or you have to stay late at work, you can shift your workout to another day without any loss of trainings!  As long as you get your three weekly rides in, it doesn’t really matter which days these are.  By giving yourself more flexibility during the week on when you train, you begin to become in control of your training, rather than the training controlling YOU!

**Think ‘flexibility’ instead of ‘fixed’ training days a week…and soon you’ll start to ‘flow’ and get traction with your training rather than ‘fighting’ it with continual setbacks.

Tip 4: Learn to commute to work and use it as a way to train.

Cycle to work, get fit and give yourself more family time at the end of the day. You can use bike commuting very effectively to train for your distance events.  If you doubt cycling to work will get you fit or ‘isn’t enough’ think again.  Here are a couple of quick tips to kick-start your training into top-gear, – and give you plenty variation each week to get you ‘loving’ bike commuting instead of ‘loathing’ it:

  • Cycle over hills with a heavily laden bike.  Even a couple of kilograms is enough to make your quads burn uphill! Choose a new, longer route and work hard: fartlek training on a continuous ride is ideal here.
  • Cycle hard from traffic lights.  The stop and go is excellent power training.  Again, with a heavy bike with lights and backpack or panniers makes this a tough quality workout.
  • Cycle to catch other cyclists, pass them and see if they respond!  This is the fun part of commuting and an excellent way to not only start your day, but to get up to race pace and bring out competitiveness you never thought you had!

When you start commuting with your 100-mile event in mind, remember not to ride to work every single day – as we’ve discussed in tips 1, 2 & 3, that’s the sure fire way to end up off your bike and back to square one: bored, stale and heavy legged.

Focus-in on pulling-off two superb quality bike commutes a week.

Tip 5: Get crystal clear on what training you are doing: weekly and monthly towards your goal of finishing 100-miles:

Critical to succeeding in your long distance event is knowing what training to do from one bike ride to the next.  To do this, we need to look at your long term event goal, which in this case is to complete 100-miles.  We then need to set medium and shorter term ‘training goals’ to get you there.  To get clear on this, we write down and outline an annual training programme periodised into training blocks bringing you into peak form for your long term event goal.  It sounds scary but it really is not difficult to do.

Now, once you get on your bike for a day’s training, you can clearly see and pinpoint exactly what training you need be doing and at what intensity.  By doing this, you save time and energy AND you get fit quicker because you know what you are doing from ride to ride!

Tip 6: Invest or ‘use’ your turbo trainer to get creative with your workouts…

You need creative, flexible alternatives to ride a bike when you can’t ride on the road.  You may only be riding 3 days a week, but consistency in that training is key.  You can’t afford to lose one of those training days due to bad weather.  Investing in a simple indoor turbo trainer is a smart move. The beauty of the turbo is you not only use it when your can’t get outside.  You can combine a commute with the turbo too.  By mixing your forms of cycling like this, you can use your time much more effectively, keep consistent, as well as keep your riding varied.

Tip 7: Use intervals to get more out of workouts AND save you substantial training time:

To stave off boredom and stagnation with your fitness: up the pace and get into various forms of interval training.  Interval training can give your fitness a needed boost.  Remember though, intervals do not necessarily have to be done at killer thrash-out pace.  You’ll find the workouts go so much quicker and even become more enjoyable.  If you want to know how to start interval training, please read 7 Reasons To Start Interval Training.

Your personal winning cycling formula:

Once you begin to take a highly flexible approach to your training, you’ll be onto a personal winning cycling formula!  You’re going to be well trained, well rested and rarely have to feel frustrated when you can’t make a training session.

At the end of the day it’s about finding balance with your training and the rest of your life.  This does initially take a bit of trial and error, but you’ll know when you’ve found it when you cross the line in your 100-mile cycle event having had a brilliant day out with all the family.

…if you’d like to learn more about how to implement the above tips and much more, I highly recommend my newly released ebook:  “The Time-Starved Cyclist’s Training Formula – how to find time to train for 100-miles and not get divorced!”

And, If you found this post useful – do share this post with your cycling friends who might need help with completing their first 100-mile event.

About Rebecca


  1. Ross

    November 15, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I found this post useful as I am starting to cycle to work. I need to be more flexible as you say and not beat myself up when I can’t cycle. I also have to travel to so not easy for me.

    • Rebecca

      November 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Ross

      Thanks for your comment.

      As to travelling, the main point here is dealing with the tiredness factor. It also depends how long you are away. If it’s just a few days, I’d wait until you get back to resume your training again. If it’s longer than four days, perhaps look out for a hotel gym bike to simply turn your legs over, but don’t overdo it – the accumulative tiredness of travel needs to be respected – take it easy on yourself.

  2. TONY

    November 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hi Rebecca, you give excellent advice. I cycle to work every day and need to go easy as I find I feel tired to ride my bike at weekends. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rebecca

      November 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your feedback – I know this sounds rather counter-intuitive in the beginning, but see how you go by riding less frequently. I think you’ll be surprised at how your cycling motivation and fitness improves by simply doing a little less each week. Let me know how you get on!

  3. Ronnie

    November 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    The flexible approach you describe is music to my ears. i do get hung up if I break a particular pattern and once broken it’s hard to re-establish. Great advice.

    • Rebecca

      November 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Hi Ronnie, yes if you can implement more flexibility with your workouts each week, you’re going to stress less about it. Thanks for your comments, and Best Wishes.

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