Balancing Training Stress with Work/Life Stress

As per the thread title, how do you balance various stresses in life?

I work a job that has it’s up and downs in terms of busyness and sometimes the hours and intensity can start to take their toll. At these times I feel as though I have to back off in my training a bit, or I’m going to burn out.

Any tips on how to keep training consistent around a busy work life?

Is it better to commit to lower but more consistent volume, or have a training load that fluctuates up and down depending on other things?

This.

Commit to this, add more when you have capacity.

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Second @Scheherazade comment.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not smash yourself when you do have the time. Add endurance volume when available so you don’t overdo it and carry too much fatigue into the next week/month/etc.

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Consistency is probably the most important aspect of training in order to have long-term gains. Pick a low or mid volume plan if that’s what you can complete on top of your fluctuating job demands and other life stress. As time allows, you can add in additional rides to increase the volume.

Also be open to changing volume part way through a plan. I’m in a similar situation, having moved recently and my commute time tripled. I struggled through the first part of SusPB and really think I need to drop my volume. There was a good discussion by Pete on podcast 291 where he had higher compliance with a mid volume plan (versus high volume) and got faster as a result.

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I have a similar situation. Two kids, my wife has a demanding job and mine is really all over the place in terms of hours, intensity, time of day/night, indoors/outdoors. So when I’ve been the most successful, I’ve either been on a low-volume plan and added extra volume when possible or a mid-volume one but occasionally cutting out workouts. At times I’ve also stacked workouts, when I’ve known that there will be a 5day window till the next workout. I’don’t think there is a perfect way to deal with this, but you just have to try around and I’d recommend starting with low-volume and adding as it fits your life.

Thanks for the insights everyone. I think the most difficult thing is holding back when I do have the capacity to do more, rather than pushing too hard, carrying more fatigue then it all unravelling a couple of weeks later if I get super busy. I’m pretty good at knowing when I need to back-off though.

I think the suggestion to commit to a low volume plan then add in additional rides when possible is perhaps the way forward, although I do seem to recover from lower intensity longer duration workouts much better than high intensity sessions. Think I therefore need a plan that’s more focused on lower intensity higher volume and miss workouts where I have to, rather than a higher intensity lower volume plan that runs a higher risk of too much stress.

So what I’m suggesting is skipping sessions from a mid volume lower intensity plan rather than adding additional sessions to a lower duration higher intensity plan. I’d look to keep my baseline target TSS/Week consistent by undercooking a mid-volume plan rather than overcooking a low volume plan. Make sense?

This may ultimately lead to the same gains in fitness but require more time, but that’s just how I recover.

I was typing my last reply at the same time as you by the looks of it. What were the pros/cons of cutting from a mid-volume plan rather than adding to a low volume plan?

It sounds like you’re a bit more pressed for time than me (no kids to deal with yet!), I couldn’t imagine missing five days unless suffering from illness, but we all have to do what we can when we can!

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For me the choice between adjusting a low- or mid-volume plan has been a matter of which has been easiest to do. If a low volume means I have tinker with it 4 weeks out of 5, I’d rather go for a mid volume and adjust it the fifth week so to speak.

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For me it feels mentally better to add workouts to a plan rather than skip/delete.

Sounds a small thing but I find it works for me.

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I’m going to have a play around with the plans. I’m starting from the supposition that the low volume plan has more higher intensity workouts included by default to make up for the lower volume.

If that’s the case, IMO it’s better to subtract from the mid-vol rather than add to the low-vol plan.

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If your schedule is that irregular, you may want to consider making your own plan that focuses on one specific goal and creates a progression.

For example, here’s a good (massive) thread on Sweet Spot Progression

I’m currently working on sprint interval progression. Similar idea: length, quantity, and intensity increase over time.

When work/life stress forces you to hit the “pause” button, it’s generally pretty easy to maintain fitness with just two workouts per week until things settle down again. And when you have a singular goal like length of sweet spot intervals, you’re chasing a metric that’s much less elusive than, say, FTP gains (via Ramp Test), which are very broad and require a lot of different things to come together at the same time.

My herbal regimen seems to turn down the stresses of life, but it ain’t for everyone

I felt better doing exactly that - giving myself freedom to cut workouts short or drop them from the MV plan, depending on how tired I was from the rest of life. With the low-volume plan, there was always the ‘it’s only three workouts, get them ticked off’ thought in my head.