Friday, May 31, 2013

You're going there anyway.

We all have commitments in life that limit our available hours to train. While I have fairly standard office hours (9am-5pm Monday to Friday), our commute eats up another 15 hours per week because we have 70km of  the busiest highway in the world between our house and places of work - we leave the house just after 7am and the earliest we get home is about 6:15pm. Wednesdays we tend to get home even later, as we go visit my Mum after work.

Running isn't a huge problem - it's the most time-efficient of the three triathlon disciplines, and can be done anywhere at just about any time. I'm lucky to have worked out a swimming schedule that lets me get a good workout in four times per week, plus any open water swimming I may do. Cycling, however, tends to demand the most time in order to get in a decent session. While I do make a lot of use of my indoor trainer over the winter, when the weather is nicer I try to stay off the hamster wheel as much as possible. In order to get in a few extra miles in the saddle, I've taken to using commuting time as extra training.

A wicking golf shirt, tri shorts and a wrap skirt  make a comfortable cycling outfit and presentable office wear.

Now, I'm not hardcore enough to cycle to work - the absolute shortest distance I could ride without risking arrest and certain death by cycling down the 401 is about 80km, and I simply don't have 3 hours to spend each way. Since Tanker and I both go to work in one car I could always just cycle home, but even that is a bit much for a weeknight for me, knowing that I'll have at least a short run to do and dinner to make when I get home. Maybe someday, but not now.

However, shorter trips are totally in reach for most of us. Tanker and I go to the farmers' market every Saturday morning - it's only about a 21km round trip, but it's a great way to start the day! Since we live on top of a big hill, hauling our week's worth of groceries on our backs in messenger bags makes great supergravity training. When the days get longer (because there's no route that's lit by street lights) I ride my bike the 20-25km round trip to the pool on Saturday evenings, which practically makes it a swim-bike brick at the end - I do wuss out if it will be a chilly evening, though, since I'm more likely to get chilled riding home with wet hair and gear that's still damp from the ride out. We also have brunch with friends in Guelph once a month, and using the bike for the 50km round trip can both burn off some of the calories from a big breakfast and discourage overeating - there are some good-sized hills in between that could very well result in you seeing those pancakes, eggs & bacon a second time! We may or may not have learned a lesson about that after using our bikes to ride to and from the Downtown Kitchener Ribfest & Craft Beer Show.

My latest addition is actually a way to sneak in some extra training on the Wednesdays when we go visit Mum. It's generally close to 9pm by the time we get home, and all I can typically manage at that point is a 30-40min run, dinner and bed. The past few weeks (when it hasn't been thunderstorming), I've been bringing a bike in with me in the car, then dropping the car off with Tanker when I go see him at his 3 o'clock break. I could drop the car with him first thing in the morning and ride the 2km from his warehouse to my office, but I haven't been sufficiently wide awake to do so yet. Instead, when I leave work for the day I hop on the bike and pedal my way toward my childhood home - the direct route is 11km, but I add on a loop that makes it just over 15km total. This takes about 35mins, and because of rush hour traffic I usually beat Tanker getting there...but I get to sneak in a bit of training, and see some lovely sights along the way.

They added a pretty water feature at the rec centre down the road from Mum's house!

It's not a challenging ride - mostly downhill with a couple of gentle climbs - but every little bit of time pushing pedals counts. I have some wicking material golf shirts that I wear to the office anyway, and I can either change out cycling shorts for regular apparel or hide them under a skirt - it's not hard to throw my cycling shoes, helmet, gloves and a water bottle in a small bag to bring with me, and my bikes fit pretty easily in the car without even removing the front wheel as long as we drop the rear seats. It's a great way to unwind after a stressful day at work, too! I wouldn't recommend trying to do the bulk of your training this way - you still need those multi-hour treks in the saddle if you're racing long course and the hammerfests to build strength and speed - but easy rides have their place as well, if only for active recovery. If I ride to Mum's place, the market and the pool, that's at least another 55km per week - how much would your cycling improve from another 220km per month?

If you don't have a similar journey to make on a regular basis, why not think about turning a short trip into training? You can run or cycle to the market to pick up ingredients for dinner, over to the bank to make that deposit, or even just park a few kilometers away from the office and bike or run to and from your car. You can fill in the blanks in your training log, save on fuel costs, and even do your little part to reduce emissions and impact on the environment! You may even find time to explore that path you've eyed from your car or try a different route that cuts a few minutes off your daily drive.

Come ride with me!

Do you have a creative way to get your training done when things get hectic? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Great post! Commuting and running errands by bike seems to be the best way for me to get some miles in. I like to ride to my running events also.

    1. I'll be doing exactly that tomorrow! Great way to loosen the legs up before a non-priority race. Thanks for reading, and great job volunteering at Bike to Work Day!


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