As an aspiring ( and late in life ) triathlete, finding the time to get in the miles and hours required to build fitness and base endurance is probably the single largest challenge. Time, for many of us is our most valuable commodity. Between the demands of employment, family, sleep, and our social commitments, squeezing out potentially hours a day for working out is tough. Many of us look to combine our fitness goals into other aspects, be it social, or family obligations, while some of us are lucky enough to be able to get our fitness as part of our employment, the rest of us, have to find that time elsewhere.
Consider a pretty typical white collar professional parent schedule:
7:00-7:45AM – Feed kids/launch them to school.
7:45-9:00AM – Transit to place of employment.
9:00AM-12:00PM – Work
12:00-12:30AM – Lunch like time (in many cases eaten at a desk)
12:30-5:00PM – Work
5:00-6:15PM – Transit Home
6:15-8:00PM – Family Time (dinner,homework,domestic chores)
8:00-10:00PM – “Down Time”
Carving out ‘workout time’ that isn’t in that late evening time, using dreadmills and indoor trainers is brutal. This is where the commute as a training window comes into play. A commute of say 10-20 miles is going to take 20-60 minutes in a car in most areas, while that same commute by bicycle is going to be between 20-90 minutes depending upon the rider. Add some clean up and a change of clothes at the other end, and you are typically still well within the transit time window. Now instead of needing to find another time during the day for a workout, the workout is part of the day.
Will this work for everyone? absolutely not, but if you can make it work for you, it can be a huge benefit, not only in time saved and fitness, but it also improves on the job performance (though I will be the first to admit that there are days when the temptation to keep riding past the office is almost overwhelming!).
For me personally, I have had to adapt a couple of things in my schedule. My working hours are early, I typically target getting to the office around 6:30AM, so I am commuting in the dark, so that means riding with lights. I enjoy the morning ride as a low pace 12 mile spin, with an average of about 15 mph. I then work until 2:30 or 3:00PM and then hustle home on a different return route that is close to 16 miles over some nasty rollers. This is a far more spirited work out, that usually pushes over 18 mph. Once I am home, and I get the kids off to their various events, I use the down time between drop off and pick up times to either work on the laptop, hit the trail for a run, or hit one of the pool options for a few laps. Then it is home for dinner, homework, baths and bedtimes. Sure, the days are full, but I actually feel better for it, and I am not stressing about finding time in the day to squeeze in a bike workout too.