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Old 05-12-11, 09:23 AM   #1
mgurtzweiler
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Advice for using commute as part of training.

I am looking for some training advice. Short background. Started commuting to work last February weighing 200#. Started with 2x a week built up to 4-5x a week and dropped down to my current 150# (5'11"). Decided I needed new motivation to keep in shape so I started racing this year as a CAT5. Thought I was a lot stronger than I turned out to be but I am now holding my own (best place is 4th from a tight circuit race where a group of 8 took off on the first hill and gaped the field for the rest of the race). I usually finish with the lead group but need to work on my 1-2min power to put myself in a position to contest the sprint.

Anyway...

If i were to ride my bike to work it's 19-20 miles each way. Fairly hilly.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/80353389

I can add more miles to either leg, or both. Using one leg as a recovery ride is difficult because of the hills but with some concentration I could try to just spin. I am currently following a trainingpeaks Virtual coach plan that has me doing ~10hr a week. If i used my commute as training I could easily double that time on the bike without really impacting my lifestyle. Gotta love Washington DC traffic! I just want to avoid "junk miles" if such a thing really exists.

I could just try it But thought I would reach out.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 05-12-11, 09:41 AM   #2
I_like_cereal
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Make one ride a week a real training ride. Ride it like a road race. Try to keep a solid race pace during the entire commute. Recover on the trip home.

Mine is usually Monday when I am feeling stronger. My commute is 20 round trip and I have to get over a ridge at 800'. I start at 200' going to work and 20' going home.

The least you could do is keep your gearing moderate for me that's 39/23 or 39/20. I run a 53/39 with a 12/25 rear.

Good luck to you. Sounds like your training well. Maybe step to Cat4 for a better challenge?
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Old 05-12-11, 01:02 PM   #3
ks1g
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Howdy sort-of neighbor! I wish I had your power and w/Kg numbers I started a new commute in March, went from 4 miles, mostly W&OD to slight rolling 10 - 12 miles 1-way depending on how much of the traffic on Centreville Rd between Herndon & Chantilly I want to deal with. What I did:
- 2x week, usually Tue & Thur: make at least one of the 2 rides that day an interval or steady-state session; the traffic lights usually force me into a 3-6 min interval with a forced rest at the stop lights. Adjust by a day if weather or work is going to get in the way. If I'm on the commuter bike (no power data), go by feel or try to practice some other aspect of my riding.
- Sat/Sun: Intense indoor session, or since early April, long ride; throw in some hard extended efforts or hill climbs depending on route. If I go Saturday, Sunday will be an easier ride of off day depending on family obligations.
- Other days: take it easier on commute unless I feel particularly firksy that trip.
- Because I am a numbers fiend, I started tracking data on each commute - time, distance, averages for HR, power, and after I load it into Training Peaks, their estimate (power or HR-based depending on the bike) for TSS. I also started plotting the TSS data and calculating training loads (per Coggans & Howard's Training With Power, algorithm is also explained on the Training Peaks site). I believe the pay version of TP calculates this for you, but I didn't want to spend that much at this point. Golden Cheetah is free (as in beer) but only calculates a training load if it has power data. TP will estimate a training load from HR or avg HR data if that's all that you load in.
- It took me about a month to get accustomed to the new commute, there were some days I really felt beat up (and some of the March-April weather didn't help, either). Some weeks I did only one targeted day. I feel I can handle 2 hard days/week plus a big weekend ride OK now.
- The other days I can work on cadence, pedal technique, or just enjoying being on the bike (even if it's in DC area traffic!) and not paying gas, parking, transit fares, car tax, depreciation, ... You could, for example, work on spinning in a lower gear if increasing cadence is a goal. Just decide on a purpose for the day's commute, even if it's saving $$ for more bike swag.
- If more intense exertions are what you want to work on (bridging gaps, attacks, sprints), use traffic lights/stop signs as break points for going all-out on the hard days.

I've noticed a slight weight loss which is nice to get but wasn't an objective, as well as a steady decrease in riding time/speed increase on the commutes. Other than as a way to get the "training" aspect of the ride back towards an hour, I'm not considering lengthening the commute; I'd probably add to the route going home, just because I have more flexibility after work than before. My commute takes me past where one of the local weeknight group rides starts; if I can figure out where to leave my stuff for 2 hrs, I can use that for some extra hard riding.
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Old 05-12-11, 02:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ks1g View Post
My commute takes me past where one of the local weeknight group rides starts; if I can figure out where to leave my stuff for 2 hrs, I can use that for some extra hard riding.
Just take the load with you; it'll build up your strength even quicker, and when you can hang with the group with your luggage, you get major cred points! (Just don't let everybody draft you too long -- they'll get used to the draft, and you'll be worn down when a sprint comes up.)
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Old 05-12-11, 02:55 PM   #5
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ks1g: Can you just make do with wallet/keys/phone in a jersey for that night and leave your stuff at the office overnight?
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Old 05-13-11, 07:58 AM   #6
ks1g
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pdlamb: I've thought of that. It's a mental tradeoff - losing whatever style points I may still have vs. the intimidation factor (amplified if I ride my commuter vs my road bike!) vs. the "I'm going to be slower because I'm carrying all this junk).
caloso: I've thought of that, too (but needed the reminder!). I already leave toiletries at work, and can just use the commuter and a larger pannier for the next day.

OP - sorry for the thread-jack. Working training into a commute is a great use of almost free time (just don't wipe yourself out for the work day or whatever you have to do at home). And you'll be able to have conversations like this one: http://comics.com/frazz/2011-05-13/
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Old 05-13-11, 09:51 AM   #7
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No problem on the hyjack I've got the logistics of commuting back and forth down, been doing it for a year (even all winter woot) 2-4 times a week, but that pretty much stopped when I took up this training program.

I want to work the commute back in so i can basically double my volume for free. I'm just gonna try it starting next week ramping it up over 4 weeks to 4-5x a week with one way being a total recovery ride (its soooooooo hard to not just ride tempo into work. tried doing a recovery ride this morning because i have a race tomorrow morning and just sat in Z3/4 the whole time even know i kept telling myself to knock it off).
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