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How I Rode 11,000 Miles In 2023 With a Full Time Job

While coaching has been a large part of my life for the last few years, I have not quite gotten to the point where I can do it full-time. That means I still go to a physical job 5 days a week averaging just under 40 hours a week, not too dissimilar to what most working professionals experience with their personal lives. Adding this to the additional hours I put into my business as well as my personal social life, I have a very busy life without much free time. So how exactly have I been able to dedicate this much time to training?



Commuting

My number 1 tip to finding more time to ride is to be more efficient and do multiple important things at the same time. I have to get myself to work somehow and I also want to ride, so if I do both of these things at the same time I can save myself time in total. Instead of still spending an hour a day in the car driving and then trying to find time after work to ride, I can replace that hour of driving with an hour and a half of riding instead.


I am lucky enough to live and work in a location where I can ride on a protected bike path or bike lane for the entire time, but even when I was living back in Michigan I made a point to make a safe and fun route to commute to and from work. I know that both of the jobs I've had took me somewhere between 15-30 minutes to get to and from work. Rush hour traffic is especially bad at the times I would be driving so depending on the exact time I leave, it could be even longer.



Quick Commutes

I can make a route that is roughly 10-15 minutes longer than driving so it would be 45 minutes each way. This will give me an hour and a half of riding in total each day I commute to work. This is not an insignificant amount, if you do this just 3 days a week with 2 longer rides on the weekend, you could find yourself riding 8-10 hours a week almost entirely from commuting.


Long Commutes

I will make a point to do some of my weekday longer rides in the morning before work or in the evening on my way home. I have my normal 45-minute route, but I also have another that takes about an hour and a half and another that takes about 2 and a half hours. This way I can build big weeks of training where almost all of the riding is coming from commutes.


The week of April 10th, I put in a solid 22.5 hour week of training that consisted of just two long weekend rides and 5 days of commuting with a mix of long and short rides to and from work. The two long days accounted for a total of 9.5 hours where the commuting days made up the remaining 13 hours of riding. This averages to 1:20 per commute. Not a super long ride by any means but it adds up over the course of a week or months or even a year.


Workout Commutes

I am a big advocate of early morning workouts before work. I feel like I can concentrate better in the morning, I am less fatigued from the work day beforehand, I can more accurately control my pre workout nutrition, and I can take my pre workout caffeine without it affecting my sleep. I like to keep my harder workout days around 1.5-2 hours anyway, so this would fit in perfectly with my current commute routes.


At work, I keep a change of clothes and toiletries to clean myself up and brush my teeth after hard workouts to keep me feeling fresh during my work day. I also have access to an employee fridge where I can keep post workout snacks and meals (Greek yogurt is my favorite) to eat immediately after I finish. I know not everyone has this luxury so I have an alternative solution later in this article.



This is an example of a workout I performed as part of my commute to work. I did 3 sets of 12 minutes and finished with about 90 minutes of easy endurance riding.




Commuting tips

Keep it easy. Staying on the lower end of the intensity spectrum on the way to work to keep down on sweat and just feeling tired when you get there. Commutes are the perfect opportunity to bank up on your quality zone 2 endurance intensity.


Mix distances. When I do a harder workout on the way into work, I will usually keep the ride home as short as I can make it. Having a full day of work and a hard workout on the same day will make you very tired and fatigued. It's best to keep the ride home as easy as possible to help you recover for the next day of riding.


Have fun! Make a few different routes into work to mix it up. I have 2 main routes into work on my longer days with additional add-ons to make them even longer or shorter if I need to depending on how I am doing with time.


Focus on efficiency. Since you will have a deadline to get to work by, focus on keeping your riding as time efficient as possible by keeping your stopping time as low as possible. Since commutes will often be shorter than your other endurance type rides, you can put more mental effort into staying within your zones and minimizing stops as much as possible.


Take advantage of the exercise-insulin response. The hour immediately after finishing exercise will usually be the most insulin sensitive part of your day. Use this period to your benefit by ingesting a carb rich meal immediately after finishing the ride to get a jump start on your recovery and glycogen replenishment.



Using the trainer

The trainer is possibly the most efficient training tool you can use in your riding, especially during the winter when it could take an hour to determine what the ideal clothing setup is, getting dressed, and inevitably being wrong and still being uncomfortable. If you don't have the ability to commute to and from work, I think the trainer is the next best way to get some more training time.


Pre work workouts

Like I said previously, I am a big fan of early morning workouts so you get it out of the way and you can carry on with the rest of your day without needing to worry about nutrition, hydration, or stress affecting your workouts in the evenings. You can easily set up your trainer the night before with all of your ride nutrition and breakfast already pre-made.


When I was living in Michigan during the nasty winters, I would often wake up at 5-6 am to get in a few hours on the trainer while still having enough time to shower and drive to work afterwards. I liked making overnight oats in a medium sized mason jar that I could pop in the microwave for a few minutes (or just eat cold) and eat it while I get dressed and fire up Zwift. If I was doing an easier endurance kind of workout, I could make my setup process even quicker by just eating breakfast while I was on the trainer. I had a system down where I could be on the trainer and start my warmup within 20-30 minutes of my morning alarm going off. It definitely takes some discipline and trial and error to be quick and efficient like this, but it is my preference.


Evening recovery and endurance

While I dont like doing hard workouts in the evenings since I get poor sleep and prevent me from using any caffeinated products, I still do like doing easier rides in the evenings. I really enjoyed doing Zwift group rides that were within my endurance zones in the evenings after I got home from work. Having a group ride to join kept me diligent and made me want to get on the trainer and go as opposed to deciding to relax and take a nap or watch TV instead.


Multitasking on the trainer

One of my go-to time saving strategies I used while in high school and college was to do my studying while riding the trainer. I could get in a quick hour-long ride between classes and read a book or even do assignments. This only worked for me if I was doing easy endurance rides on ERG mode so I didn't need to think about anything on the riding side, and the work I was doing was on the easier side too. I could go through Quizlet flashcards or do gen-ed assignments and readings, but anything that took more brain power, like writing for my capstones or assignments for math heavy courses like chemistry and physics would need to be done at another time. Now, in my more professional life, I will respond to emails and manage vendor and sponsor accounts using this same strategy.


Trainer tips

I have a whole article on how to maximize your time on the trainer, you can read all about it here:




Making the most of the day

If the last two tips are useful to you, these last ones definitely will. Finding small improvements each day that you can put into your riding and training could make massive changes over the course of months or a year. Small changes compounded over long periods of time are what really matter.


Find 20 minutes per day

Just an additional 20 minutes of riding per day can be a 2 hour difference at the end of the week, that could be 20% or more total riding duration depending on what your current starting point is. Not every ride needs to be a big deal, go on short 20- 30 minute rides after work on the trainer or outdoors or even a quick bodyweight strength and mobility session. Every small bit counts! You could easily find these 20 minutes by doing things like cutting back on TV or video games for just 20 minutes (or multitask on the trainer and do them) and go for a short ride.


Consolidate tasks

If you find yourself working for an hour then relaxing for 30 minutes, then working again for another 30 minutes, you might be able to find a more efficient way to use your time and find free time.


I remember being stuck with my class schedule one semester in college where I had 4 classes throughout the day and all of them separated by just about an hour. It was not really enough time to go drive to a trail and ride nor was it really short enough to just go straight to my next class. I found this frustrating to have 4 hours of free time spread throughout the day but none of it was really all that usable.


If you have the ability to stack tasks like this with each other in a single time block, you could possibly gain that 4 hours of free time all in one single block, allowing you more time to go for a ride or train.


Optimize Nutrition

If you just can't find any extra time in your day, try to make the most of what you have. Maximize your nutrition to the best of your ability. Meal prep to ensure you are hitting all of your target macros and total daily calorie goal. Make sure you keep drinking water in small amounts throughout the day to maintain hydration.


Replace unhealthy snacks and candy with slightly healthier and lower calorie ones. A big change I did for myself when I was trying to lose weight for a race was replacing pop with diet or more often than not, fizzy waters. This still gave me the enjoyment of having the fizziness with a fruity drink but without any of the calories. Another small change I did to help maximize my nutrition on my weight loss journey was through replacing ice cream and other candies with yogurt with frozen fruits. This still satisfied my desire for sweet and sugary foods while reducing added sugars for natural ones and generally lower fat content (and in turn fewer calories).



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