Imagine waking up before the sun rises, and getting ready for work. Worse still, imagine doing nightshift and sleeping when others are awake. Try adding some kids to the mix... not much time for training, is there?
There are ways to work around the problem of not having enough time to train. We're going to take you through some options, so you can make the most of those few days or hours you do have free. Even if it's only 30 minutes, with some dedication you can fit in a worthy workout. Seeing as this article is all about time efficiency, we've made this straight to the point and easy to read!
1. Read "Top Ten Tips to Training Well" and refer to the point about getting ready the night before. Doing this helps you save time. You can simply wake up, eat, dress and go. A sneaky mindgame you can play with yourself is this: "I don't want to ride, I need sleep. I'll ride 10 minutes down the road, and if I still don't want to ride, I'll turn back."
2. Buy an indoor trainer if you're that keen. A 30 minute indoor ride can equate to a 1 hour road ride depending on what you do. Generally, if you want to make a short indoor session count, go hard. Do some intervals and strength efforts, something we referred to in "Sick of Counting Bricks..? Here's some tips to get you through your indoor training sessions".
3. Be consistent in your riding attempts. If you calculate that you have 3 days a week to ride, then ride 3 days a week. Trying to muscle in a 4th day can wear you out and set you back the following week when you're worn out from work and riding combined.
4. Train to work and back - many cyclists ride to work if possible, and treat themselves to a drive maybe once a week. This allows you to train while you ride to work, and you get to beat the traffic. Ride safe though, it's a busy time of day to be going full steam ahead. You can even leave clothes at work, so you can ride directly to work after a morning ride, giving you some extra miles in the legs.
5. Tie your rest day from training in with an easy day at work, like a Friday (depending on where you work!). This way, your riding and working lives are in parallel with each other, and you get a break from both stresses on one day.
6. You need to ensure that 'normality comes first' - meaning that riding is the first thing you chop out, when life takes priority. Having this attitude will make it less depressing when you do miss out on a ride. Life is normality. Riding is an extra activity you're trying to squeeze in, and if you're reading this article, you're aware of the struggles involved. If you're lacking sleep and waking up exhausted, don't ride. Recover, and start afresh.
7. Try to fit one long ride in per week using the tips above. Whatever your fitness is, try to do a ride that stretches you but doesn't exhaust you. Maybe get up early and do 2 hours before work, then ride to work. Drink lots of water and eat more than usual to prevent you from crashing during the day. Low GI foods are key, as are the afternoon coffees.
Photo: Bicycling Western Australia
8. Find out if there are early bunch rides in your area that you can join. If they're out that early, you can be too! These rides will motivate you to get out and ride, as well as push your physical limitations - helping you make the most of your limited riding.
9. Use a training program such as Strava or Garmin Connect to help you log your training. Or do it the old school way and write down each day even if you didn't ride. If a pattern occurs weekly, you can make positive changes such as restructuring your week of riding. Maybe you're doing a late stint at work on Wednesday followed by a long ride on Thursday and you're not coping. Change this to aid you in being more consistent and less fatigued.
Discuss your lifestyle choices with your boss and see if they are willing to allow you to start work later in return for you staying later. You'd be surprised at the answer. Either "you're fired" or the preferred "yeah sure, that's fine!".
There are a few other ways to fit training into your life, but the basic concept is to maximise every piece of time you have. Pre-cook your meals, pre-pack your work bag, wake up earlier on set days, ride in the evenings... the list goes on. Be realistic, and be fair on yourself. You can make it work in your favor!