“If only I had more time to train, I’d be in super shape.”
Ever overhear that comment on the club ride? I bet you have. You may have even said it yourself. It ranks way ahead of other cycling “if only’s”—wishes for more power, a faster sprint, or a lighter bike.
Give me 20 hours a week on the bike, we fantasize, and (insert famous pro rider) would be in trouble.
Sorry. More saddle time or mileage alone is unlikely to make us better riders. And that’s good consolation for riders fighting a time crunch.
For the next three weeks, we’ll take a look at how to make the most of your limited training time and provide some tips on how to perhaps carve out a little more time to ride from you busy schedule.
We’ll start today by examining why a modest amount of training time allows you to unlock nearly all of your genetic potential. Next week, I’ll show you how to reach top fitness by training only seven hours per week. And then I’ll offer those tips on “discovering” more time in the day.
When some people start riding, 10 miles is a real chore. But soon they can ride longer and their average speed improves markedly. However, after some months they reach a depressing plateau. Average speed stagnates and it’s harder to tack an additional 10 or 15 miles on weekend rides. Even when they increase training mileage substantially, performance refuses to budge.
Each of us has inherited limits to our abilities. Simply adding mileage won’t shatter that genetic ceiling. In fact, riding too much can slow us down rather than make us faster when we exceed our capacity to recover.
Example! Runners are more susceptible to injury than cyclists due to the high-impact nature of their sport. As a result, runners get harsh reminders from their bodies that they’re overdoing it.
Sports scientists agree that the injury rate for many runners jumps sharply at about 30 miles per week. Stay below that number and most runners can perform almost as well as they would at 50 or 70 miles a week—and have a far lower incidence of injury.
Because cycling is a compliant, non-impact sport, we don’t get such a dramatic warning that we’ve reached our mileage limit. But current thinking places it at about 110 to 150 miles per week for people who work for a living. That’s roughly six to nine hours of riding.
Most workaday cyclists think (know) that 10 hours a week is a lot.
There’s one more fallacy of wishing for unlimited time to ride: You’d probably get bored with cycling. Isn’t gonna happen—you love to ride, right?
But if all you did was ride—no weight training, no hiking, no leisurely Saturday mornings puttering around the house—you’d eventually come to dislike the bike.
Check back next week for that 7-hour plan.