Juggling the commute and a training plan can be difficult, especially if your commute is barely long enough – or tough enough – to break a sweat.
Commuting by bike is on the up in Britain thanks to the likes of the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins and Olympic dominance.
It’s a great way to get to work, whether it’s 2 or 20 miles, and employers are starting to realise the benefits of using a cycle to work scheme to help their staff stay fit, healthy and motivated.
But what benefits can commuting have if you are a budding Wiggo or aiming to smash your mates on the club run?
Here are our five tips on how to turn your commute into part of your training routine to maximise those sweet gains.
1. Commute on rest days
If your commute is short then using it as a rest day spin is a good way to maximise recovery and save you some petrol money in the process. Take it easy like you would if you were on a recovery ride and you’ll keep your legs in tip top condition for Sunday.
Rest days don’t necessarily mean you have to be off the bike all day, especially if you are training for an event. A light ride will be just as good if not better than staying in with your feet up.
2. It’s not an excuse to snack
Snacking is the downfall of many an athlete. You never know, without that pack of custard creams by your desk you could have been the next Chris Froome or Jason Kenny.
Commuting to work is not an excuse to snack. Sedentary jobs are the most at risk of gaining weight and your diet should not get worse just because you cycle in to work everyday. The commute should make you healthier not allow you to maintain a biscuit addiction.
3. Supersize it!
If your commute is only a handful of miles then why not make it longer? Especially in summer when the evenings are bright enough to add on a good 15-20 miles to your route.
If you don’t commute in your usual attire, take some with you to work and make the commute home take an hour or two. If you wait to get home then change you’re 76% less likely to go out again*, so make it your route home to begin with.
*statistics are made up for effect. Didn’t you know that 80% of statistics bloggers use are made up?
4. Traffic light intervals
Traffic lights will be a common nuisance for most commuters who work in cities, especially if you commute on a main arterial road with all the car-people.
Instead of being tempted to jump them (bad cyclist, BAD!) then use them to your advantage – as intervals. Use the gap between traffic lights as an interval to go full gas, stopping for the next set of lights. Rinse and repeat for a min-interval session.
Obviously, we should mention that this should only be done if the road conditions are safe to do so and at your own risk.
5. Strength training
Most commuters don’t commute in racing gear with full aero helmet and tri-bars – although there’s always one. Usually you have backpack or panniers with your work stuff in. This is an opportunity for strength training.
Stick the bike in a high gear and use the extra weight to get some power sessions in. Nothing says strength like smashing a big gear with 5kg of clothes, lunch and folders to add some weight.
Remember that even if you don’t commute by bike, you can still use your commute as part of a training plan. A moderate just 30 minutes a day – going fo a long walk on lunch or extending your commute by getting off the bus a few stops early – is enough to have some benefit and will use the same muscles you use on the bike. Commutes are a great way to get fit whether you’re preparing for a cycling event or for going hiking for the weekend.