How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

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How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby silkishuge » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:42 am

Hi,
I consider myself a commuter more than a racer type cyclist. I do like to see improvements in my riding ability but I don't typically go out for specific training rides. I just go to and from work and it is about 30km each way. I just had a look at the Garmin historical data and in the last 8.5 months, I have cycled 14,105km and climbed 169,127m, which is only an average of 1.2% gradient. Average speed That works out to be on average about 4,600m of climbing a week. Would that be comparable to decent training?

Anyway, how much climbing do you do on your commutes?

Jon
Jon's bikes.......
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by BNA » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:55 am

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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby goneriding » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:55 am

Like you I'm a commuter who doesn't race (apart from the odd mass participation event where I participate as enthusiastically as I can) and likes to get improvement. In the same time period I've done ~1,500 km's less than you with a heap less climbing.

My commute has a grand total of 109 metres of climbing and the early ride only 400 so not much! SOP is pretty much flat and there is great 5km loop that I use for interval like efforts. I don't really have any structured plan apart from the intervals I do around SOP. Doing those I've made some good gains recently in both all time and averages.

The good thing about SOP is that the roads are setup alot better than those I ride on if I have to go into the CBD and therefore lend themselves to being able to concentrate on riding the bike rather than staying alive, if you get my meaning.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby DaveOZ » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:03 pm

My daily return trip is 32km with an average of 1.2%. The home trip is the steepest bit.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby ft_critical » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:36 pm

Currently either 4700m or 5000m rounded per week. Three group rides, two commutes and sometimes a recovery ride.

When racing, depending on the race, it would be less but only in the order of 500m or so on average.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby ozjolly » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:41 pm

My commute is only about 180m climb over 24.5km (or 18.2km some days.. same climb). That's 0.7%/1%.

I threw on my heart rate monitor a little while ago to measure the commute. I'd sort of assumed I was coasting more on a bike compared to my running, but to my surprise my heart rate averaged the same as my long runs (with more peaks and troughs for hills/traffic). So an hour or so each way is a pretty good hit out.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby HillBilly » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:47 am

To answer your question as to whether your commuting milage is comparable to decent training is a little tricky. No doubt doing 20,000kms a year (which is what you appear to be on track to do) is a lot and you will build a good level of general cycling fitness in the process but I dare say the way you are doing it means you will fall well short of your "potential" as opposed to if you were logging those kms in a more structured and targeted way. Even considering your kms are quite hilly which will be building strength. When I say potential, I mean as a racing cyclist, not a commuter.

The reality of course is, time due to work and family commitments prohibits all but the most dedicated die hards to log 20,000 targeted training kms in a year.

Generally the dif between big commuting and training is:

- commuting doesn't leave enough time for recovery
- easy days too hard, hard days too easy
- lack of true intensity
- no structure to concentrate on limiters eg sprint training, hill climbing or TT training
- difficulty in staying in required heart rate zones or power zones to gain maximum effect due to traffic and lights
- time to hone pedaling technique etc
- lack of recovery can lead to more down time due to illness

Of course another thing that makes a cyclist a great racer is tactics and skill built through years of actually racing... It's often underrated.

As for me, I race a bit and my commuting is pretty much all I can manage in terms of "training". 4 kids and a job sees to that. I do way less kms than you (12000 pa). Before a targeted event I try and get some interval work done (eg hill repeats) to try and build a top end. I'd love to have the time and discipline to have a proper training program but it just isn't going to happen so I live with knowing I will never reach my potential (not to mention I'm too old anyway) which works for me.

Cheers

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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby silkishuge » Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:05 pm

HillBilly wrote:To answer your question as to whether your commuting milage is comparable to decent training is a little tricky. No doubt doing 20,000kms a year (which is what you appear to be on track to do) is a lot and you will build a good level of general cycling fitness in the process but I dare say the way you are doing it means you will fall well short of your "potential" as opposed to if you were logging those kms in a more structured and targeted way. Even considering your kms are quite hilly which will be building strength. When I say potential, I mean as a racing cyclist, not a commuter.

The reality of course is, time due to work and family commitments prohibits all but the most dedicated die hards to log 20,000 targeted training kms in a year.

Generally the dif between big commuting and training is:

- commuting doesn't leave enough time for recovery
- easy days too hard, hard days too easy
- lack of true intensity
- no structure to concentrate on limiters eg sprint training, hill climbing or TT training
- difficulty in staying in required heart rate zones or power zones to gain maximum effect due to traffic and lights
- time to hone pedaling technique etc
- lack of recovery can lead to more down time due to illness

Of course another thing that makes a cyclist a great racer is tactics and skill built through years of actually racing... It's often underrated.

As for me, I race a bit and my commuting is pretty much all I can manage in terms of "training". 4 kids and a job sees to that. I do way less kms than you (12000 pa). Before a targeted event I try and get some interval work done (eg hill repeats) to try and build a top end. I'd love to have the time and discipline to have a proper training program but it just isn't going to happen so I live with knowing I will never reach my potential (not to mention I'm too old anyway) which works for me.

Cheers

HillBilly


Thanks for such a structured response. I can see the areas where I am lacking and I know next to nothing about training on a bike, when recovery is required except when my legs tell me they don't work anymore. What constitutes TT training or training intensity etc etc.

My tools are quite simple, my legs, my bike, speedo and hrm.

- commuting doesn't leave enough time for recovery
I am not sure what recovery is but I take Friday easy so I can ride in the weekend. I somehow doubt that is what you mean :oops:

- easy days too hard, hard days too easy
Not sure what this means too :oops:

- lack of true intensity
How do I gauge true intensity. I typically pedal till I can pedal no more. Sometimes I can achieve 85% to 95% HR and keep it there till I get home and sometimes, especially Thursdays, it is alot harder. I think I only achieved 78% to 85% on the way home last night but the wind was discouraging me and making it hard.

- no structure to concentrate on limiters eg sprint training, hill climbing or TT training

I have sprint points along my commute 3 small hills about 70m to 300m in length. I have speed targets for each little bump
Hill climbing but only 2 x 3km climbs of about 180m each
TT training, well I am not sure how one trains for TT, but I do it once a day 4 days a week, no stops, a distance of about 17km, average HR about 87% with a 4km 180m climb

- difficulty in staying in required heart rate zones or power zones to gain maximum effect due to traffic and lights

Not many stops on my route. 4 traffic lights over 30km and I usually only need to stop at one of them.

- time to hone pedaling technique etc
I don't think I have any pedaling technique. I just pedal :oops:

- lack of recovery can lead to more down time due to illness

Point to consider, but I don't ride on Sundays at all......

Jon
Jon's bikes.......
Reynolds 953 (warranty replacement, 7 months and waiting)
Kona Jake the Snake
Cervelo R3
Cervelo R5
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby HillBilly » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:36 pm

Hi Jon

On the basis that you aren't into racing, mainly commuting, i'm not suggesting you need to do any of the stuff I mentioned, just simply giving you my opinion on whether doing big commuting kms is comparable to training.

I'm sure you're able to keep up with or go past most people you come across on the road thanks to the aerobic fitness and strength your mileage and the terrain you cover would have developed. That doesn't necessarily equate to winning road racing titles against elite racing cyclists who are doing 20000 kms a year in structured training.

If you're serious about either starting to race or doing better if you already race (BTW, I have no idea who you are, if you're currently your A Grade club champ or state or national road title holder then tell me to go jump) then I'd suggest reading a book like Cyclists Training Bible by Joe Friel or Maximum Performance by Michael Ross or The Ultimate Cyclist by Chris Carmichael. There are lots of others. A coach would be even better, of course, if you really get into it.

The old school of thought around training was very much one of volume and intensity. Lots of volume early in the season, ramping up the intensity later in the season as you target your big races. Modern thinking and science is more about intensity and recovery, somewhat less about volume. The harder you train, the more you need to recover to allow your body to re-build what you are breaking down. Simplistically, it rebuilds stronger if you give it the time to recover first.

That's what I mean by "easy days not being easy enough and hard days not hard enough". If you're still riding through Bobbo as your recovery - you're probably not recovering adequately. Those climbs still require a fair bit of effort even going quite slowly. That means when you go to do your hard stuff, you can't hold it or go as hard as you otherwise could have meaning you aren't maximizing your performance gains.

Do you race now or do you intend to? Are you a member of a club?

If you don't, you should! It's fun.

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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby silkishuge » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:51 pm

HillBilly wrote:Hi Jon

On the basis that you aren't into racing, mainly commuting, i'm not suggesting you need to do any of the stuff I mentioned, just simply giving you my opinion on whether doing big commuting kms is comparable to training.

I'm sure you're able to keep up with or go past most people you come across on the road thanks to the aerobic fitness and strength your mileage and the terrain you cover would have developed. That doesn't necessarily equate to winning road racing titles against elite racing cyclists who are doing 20000 kms a year in structured training.

If you're serious about either starting to race or doing better if you already race (BTW, I have no idea who you are, if you're currently your A Grade club champ or state or national road title holder then tell me to go jump) then I'd suggest reading a book like Cyclists Training Bible by Joe Friel or Maximum Performance by Michael Ross or The Ultimate Cyclist by Chris Carmichael. There are lots of others. A coach would be even better, of course, if you really get into it.

The old school of thought around training was very much one of volume and intensity. Lots of volume early in the season, ramping up the intensity later in the season as you target your big races. Modern thinking and science is more about intensity and recovery, somewhat less about volume. The harder you train, the more you need to recover to allow your body to re-build what you are breaking down. Simplistically, it rebuilds stronger if you give it the time to recover first.

That's what I mean by "easy days not being easy enough and hard days not hard enough". If you're still riding through Bobbo as your recovery - you're probably not recovering adequately. Those climbs still require a fair bit of effort even going quite slowly. That means when you go to do your hard stuff, you can't hold it or go as hard as you otherwise could have meaning you aren't maximizing your performance gains.

Do you race now or do you intend to? Are you a member of a club?

If you don't, you should! It's fun.

HillBilly


Thanks HillBilly,
I am not a member of a club but racing does seem to be fun but I am quite a chicken. :oops: I think you are quite right that I am probably not recovering enough, because my legs generally feel quite spent. Its worst when I first get on the bike, but improves after a couple of km of riding and the ache fades away. As you have already deduced, it accumulates and the effort level even though I am giving everything I got is not as high as it can be if I stayed away from commuting for a few days.

I guess the reason why I am interested is because my progress has dwindled to an almost stand still. PBs on specific climbs are stagnant at best and in a way, motivation is also dropping. I have ceased taking splits about 3 months ago because I don't want to see them anymore.

Thanks for the information. I doubt I will have time to read a book like that and structured training seems hard to fit into family life and I guess it is not such a big deal if I am not getting any faster. I should really just try and enjoy the ride which is what my LBS told me or perhaps find a bunch to ride with.

Jon
Jon's bikes.......
Reynolds 953 (warranty replacement, 7 months and waiting)
Kona Jake the Snake
Cervelo R3
Cervelo R5
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby trailgumby » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:56 pm

+1 to racing being fun. Love it! Especially off-road. I'm pretty ordinary, but who cares?

I've found that doing less is more. Obviously that means I was not allowing enough space for recovery and to get the gains before smashing myself again, which as I found out is a one-way trip to stalled progress, if not to illness.

So now I only ride 2-3 times midweek with Mondays and Fridays off the bike, Wednesdays as well if I'm at the further-away work site (increases from a 40-44km round trip to a 59km round trip with a couple of significant hills). Main training ride is Sunday morning, usually about 3 hours.

I also take an easy week every third week for recovery. I find that after the recovery week my performance has lifted.

If you want to PM me with your email address I can send you a training program that has worked for me. It's directed at 100km mtb events, but the principles are universal.

Edit: I see your experience mirrors mine. There are some books I can recommend that you might find helpful. Let me know if interested.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby HillBilly » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:38 pm

A plateau in your progress and lowering levels of motivation are signs that you're not recovering well and potentially over reaching. I'm not surprised given the load your doing which is fine so long as you don't start getting sick or you don't really want to get faster/stronger.

You don't need to read one of the books cover to cover or follow the training guides to the letter but they are a good reference to have lying around to remind you that your world won't end if you take a few days off the bike now and then (you might even get faster :wink: ).

See you on the road!

HillBilly.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby trailgumby » Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:26 pm

HillBilly wrote:You don't need to read one of the books cover to cover or follow the training guides to the letter but they are a good reference to have lying around to remind you that your world won't end if you take a few days off the bike now and then (you might even get faster :wink: )

Agreed. I haven't, and I don't, but it getting the books and having a read without going into *all* the detail on the programs has still proved enormously useful, and saved me digging myself deep into a hole.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby BarryTas » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:35 am

i will now be comumting inbetween 14-60 kms round trip most days per week, mostly the 60kms. I am looking forward to swaping spin classes for commuiting, much better training
when do we stop for coffee???

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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby teamdanby » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:11 pm

i'm lucky i live in the country areas so i have no lights or stops that i have to deal with

personlay i don't know how much up and down i do but half the ride is on open flats so to say and then i get the other half on the rolling country roads
i think it is a good mix and after many years off the bike and now getting back on it my little 15km each way is ok for now but no dout i will be looking at adding to that as time goes by

lucky for me right next to work the hastings valley MTB club have about 8km of single track that i also ride giving me more depth in some training and fun
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby Xplora » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:54 pm

I'm not much into the cycling training, but in general, if you are pushing yourself regularly on the commute, you CANNOT get enough recovery to see true muscle gains. My 18km round trip each day absolutely floors after 4 days, and the 5th day is injury time. Almost without failure! If you are plateauing, time to get off the bike, and do something else for a few weeks. Give your body time to recover. Make sure your nutrition is up as well, because - and this is the end of the book - training is about making your body perform better and in order to perform better, you need technique, and muscles to use that technique. Muscles need protein and rest to grow and be healthy. Billy's comment was simply that your commute takes you outside that ideal band for recovery.

Rather than focussing on your commute, start riding with other people. I've been chasing people in the Commuter Cup a bit recently and NOTHING focusses me like that red blinky in the distance :x :x :x :x :x :mrgreen:
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby mikesbytes » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:43 am

I do the following;
- about 10 spin classes per week
- about 15,000k bike commuting per year
- 1 training ride per week

My race results this year are;
- Australian Masters Points Race (Track) - Bronze
- New South Wales Masters Individual Time Trail championships - Bronze (done on a road bike with clipons)
- while not placing, I had strong results in the tour of canberra, ken dinnerval and Sydney road champs

Some notes;
- I do not take rest days
- I consider nutrition integral to training
- My routine is not structured or focused on a particular discipline

My results are due to sheer volume of riding, with the high intensity of the spin classes being balanced against the (for want of better words) the base of the bike commuting, though often I do informal intervals within the bike commute.

The question begs, how much better would I perform if I had a structured routine as per what Hillbilly has said? I'm sure I'd be quicker again. Reread hillbilly's post, he makes some good points.

On to you, your commuting gives you great base, if you want to take it further, then you could consider some high intensity activities, either additional to what you are doing, or if you lack the bandwidth, then do it informally in your commute, for example sprint up a hill on your route.
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Re: How much training/climbing do you do on your commutes

Postby toolonglegs » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:08 am

I am starting a course next week...for maybe 6 weeks.Perfect timing as race season is finishing up and as I am coming back from injury haven't raced this year (or most of last)...but will have a 90-100km commute per day.Should take me up till the end of October just in time for cyclocross season to start in November.
Ride in will be endurance pace as I don't want to be stinky...ride homes will be tempo to sweetspot for at least an hour.I don't want to peak too much in a hurry so will keep the Vo2 type efforts to a minimum...just using it as a slow build up to next March...long term plan but it is taking a LONG time to get back to fitness.Has taken 4 months to handle 80-100km rides relatively easily...so I am sure it will be tiring but it is a good way of forcing myself to ride as winter approaches.By the end of October it will be getting too dark for the return journey so I may be putting bike on the train.
This is theory for now as I don't know if it will be possible to lock my bike up and change somewhere once I arrive...so fingers x'ed.
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