Question: I’m a mail carrier who walks six miles every day. Also, I’m taking two night classes. I want to start road racing this year, but I come home exhausted and barely have time to study, let alone ride. What do you suggest? — Matt S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: This is a perplexing problem.
People who work long hours at a desk job can usually find time to train even if it’s indoors late at night or early in the morning. And they usually have enough energy because their jobs are sedentary. But people who are on their feet all day often are too tired to train well — or at all.
It’s not just manual labor that can deaden your legs and rob your energy. I taught high school for many years. My style was to pace around the room while I led discussions or monitored student work. After six classes a day, it felt like I’d ridden a century!
It’s not a good idea to squeeze training into an already jam-packed schedule. Improvement requires not only hard work on the bike but also plenty of rest. If you’re walking all day, going to class and maybe not getting enough sleep, your training will make you more fatigued rather than faster and stronger.
The unhappy bottom line: You should ride for recreation until you have the time to both train and rest. Then you can consider competition.