Question: I commute 17 miles each way on varied terrain. A rear rack, trunk and lights add 8-10 pounds to the bike. I train by time trialing on the way in and then back home again. I keep my heart rate up to about 90% of max for these TT intervals and continue to go pretty hard the rest of the way, too. Would it be better to ride hard for only one leg of the commute and treat the other as a recovery ride? — Joel S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Commuting is a great way to get fit, but most riders underestimate the toll it can take.
In your case, 2 rides totaling 34 miles a day on a heavy bike in some hills is pretty serious daily exercise. Throw in 2 long time trials at anaerobic-threshold pace and you could get overtrained in a hurry.
If I were you, I’d do the hard time trial only 2 or 3 times per week. All other rides would be easy spinning, except for one sprint session on the ride home one day. You can do this on a flat section. Just sprint for 10-15 seconds, recover fully and go again for 5 reps.
This will give you enough hard work to improve. Remember, it’s during rest and recovery that your body grows stronger, not when forcing it to make an unreasonable number of hard efforts.
Training as I suggest also will prevent your commutes from becoming a heavy mental burden, as they soon will if you make each one a tough workout.
As we like to remind you at RBR, enjoy your rides!