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Training Tips

How Do You Make Time To Train?

By: USA Cycling Coach  June 30, 2020

After coming up just a bit short in a sprint or losing ground on a hill, most racers lament to themselves, “If only I had more time to train.”

Unfortunately, too few of us are paid to ride bikes for a living. Most of us have full-time jobs, families, commitments … sometimes a two-hour training ride is a luxury we can’t afford.

So how can you remain near the top of your game when your competitors are putting in a hundred or more miles each week? By making the most of the training time you have.

Change your focus

If you’re short on training time, Florida Masters racer Graham Partain suggests sticking with shorter races, such as cyclocross or criteriums. Better yet, those courses are typically spectator friendly, meaning you can drag your whole family out to watch you race.

Many racers try to cram in as many races as they can into their season, but for most, it may make more sense to pare things down. Focus your training schedule around meaningful, key races as much as possible.

Have A Plan

Cat. 1 racer Aaron Hubbell juggles a full-time job, a marriage, two kids and an amateur cycling career that includes several state championships. As his family and responsibilities have grown, his time to train has shrunk. The NUVO Bissell rider estimates he gets in between 10-12 hours on the road each week.

“I can’t just ride,” Hubbell said. “I have to be smart about the time I’m using. I use a power meter and pick a specific goal and work toward that, which will allow me to get away with fewer hours on the bike.”

Having a plan typically leads to lots of intervals. After putting the kids to bed, Hubbell will often head to a nearby access road, where he’ll ride intervals for up to 90 minutes.

For Cat. 3 cyclocross racer Clive Pursehouse, he trained with hill repeats on a 400-foot hill with a 15 percent grade near his Seattle home. Intervals are hard work but are a good bang for the buck for people with limited riding opportunities.

Fit your rides in wherever you can

Pursehouse had his most successful season recently when he and his teammates did two hours of early morning training with a local pro, Ryan Miller. Getting up as early as 4:30 a.m. was a sacrifice, but the results paid off – the former mid-pack rider took a podium in his first race and was a consistent top-10 finisher throughout the season.

If you’re going to train early, make sure you’re going to bed early as well – athletes’ bodies need plenty of rest.

Hubbell said he’s tried training in the morning, but “my body doesn’t want to work that hard in the morning.”

Many busy racers bike commute to work whenever possible, allowing them to get their legs revving rather than their blood pressure during morning rush hour. Hubbell tries to get in a little earlier and stay a little later so he can go on a training ride during his lunch break.

Occasionally, Hubbell and his wife will drive to his 11-year-old daughter’s lacrosse game 45 minutes away, and he’ll ride his bike back home.

Involve your family

Hubbell limits his number of out-of-town races, but he manages to combine those he does into mini-vacations for his family. They will spend the day before the race on fun family activities, like visiting parks or shopping.

Hubbell’s family enjoys riding bikes together – so much that his daughter wants to race cyclocross this fall.

“It’ll be great father-daughter bonding,” Hubbell said. “Maddie will do her race, I’ll do mine, and we can cheer each other on.”

Manage your expectations

Perhaps most importantly, have realistic goals and expectations. Don’t expect to win an 80-mile road race if you’re not doing long rides each week. Know you might struggle against those in your race category who only ride, eat and sleep. But take solace in the things you do have, a wonderful family and a (hopefully) fulfilling career.

“My daughter has given me perspective on things,” Pursehouse said. “I used to get angry when I missed a race, now I don’t care as much.”

Hubbell agrees. “I’m in my mid-30s; I’m not going pro,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense for me to train 20 hours a week and travel long distances to races. Any more than 12 hours a week, and I’m going to have to sacrifice family things, and I’m not willing to do that.

“There comes a time when you just can’t do it; you realize you’re not turning pro or upgrading to Cat. 1 or 2. It doesn’t mean you have to give up or not give your all when you’re out there racing.”


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