I see a lot of good content describing the “time crunched” cyclist, but what about a “chaotically day crunched” cyclist?

I’m a mountain biker, airline pilot, and new dad. I’m also currently on a four month break from flying since the birth of my daughter. I figured it would be a great time to start a LV training plan and hopefully get back into enduro racing next year after getting structure back into my training in hopes of being more efficient. I’m on my first build phase and have been peppering in hard MTB rides where I can, but eventually I’ll be going back to flying and any hopes of week to week structure will begin to fade a bit.

So the crux of my issue is that I’ll have weeks where I’m gone and maybe only have a day or two at home, and other weeks where I could train every day. This makes weekly TSS planning difficult. So what’s the best way to approach having limited days followed by periods of less limited days? I’m thinking that I can start by pre-loading workouts and using my trips as a forced rest period. But I worry that back to back intensity days will start tanking my workout goals and wont provide the right stimulus. Should I keep my training plan and when I get my schedule, just fill in the time off annotations and on weeks where I have extra days use train-now or just add filler endurance rides? After those longer periods of flying, should I dial back the intensity of the workouts right away or allow myself to fail a workout if I need to and let the adaptive training handle the overload?

I know that it’s probably a bit of overthinking, but I’d like to still find a way to progressively overload my workouts without leaving too much on the table. For someone like me, forced rest could actually provide some benefit. But I don’t want to plateau earlier than I need to.


I was in the same situation and struggled to even fit in an LV plan in spite of having really a lot of time to train. Unfortunately for TR there are other apps (cheaper to boot) which can handle a very irregular schedule as well as adapting to your non structured riding

Important question, following.

Some advice may apply from Training during medical residency

From my own experience, following a training plan and stacking workouts within only a few an available days made me quite fit. It’s a constant struggle though. Also, fine line not to overdo it

Same job, but kids a bit older so lower time demands on that side.

I’m interested in peoples opinions, but for me I just take advantage of what I have. If I have a chunk of days off, I tend to workout pretty much all of them, because the next time work keeps me off the bike for a few days will be my recovery time. Now I’ve tended to not have issues with recovery between rides in a heavy block, for some an intense week of training may drag them down faster, but for me that rarely is an issue.

Just kind of like a training camp/overload then recovery idea.

Meanwhile when I’m on the road working, I try to use that time for some gym time, getting in a weight session in the hotel fitness Center. Of course hotel gyms vary tremendously, but I’ve found ways to make do. Also go for the occasional run, or like I said before, just try to take it easy outside of work and make that physical recovery time.

I sometimes try to do some zone 2 on hotel stationary bikes, but that is tough without proper fans and cooling. Dripping in sweat and high RPE compared to a Z2 ride on the home trainer or on the bike, so not a huge fan (insert pun here) of that typically.

So my volume tends to vary more than regular work schedule people, but I’m pretty happy with how I am able to manage it usually.


I can relate to O.P. and have given this a lot of thought the past years.
Before, I was getting in 10-15h/wk for 3 yrs, and when life changed (kids, bought a house, new job etc), I always naively clinged to the hope that each season could produce a new all time best power numbers. But several months of base-build-specific training with increasing volume was never possible.

It took a while but I have accepted this now :slight_smile: Still, I train to race every season and chase powernumbers.

I have two specific strategies that I use:

  1. Focus on base fitness and maintainance when life is busy. Do what you can, when you can. Then, I try to have a short build periods(2-4wks) leading into specific races a couple of times a year. This is easier to align with the family than always piling on more and more volume.
  2. Garmins daily suggestion is a good sparring partner and will keep score of what you’ve done intensity-wise 6 week back.

I’m thinking that I’ll have to move towards that model of focusing on dipping my toe into higher loads while I know I’ll have a trip coming up. I’m in the lucky position of being senior in base with long-call reserve (14-hr call out). I’ll have a fair amount of time on the bike during the slow seasons, but holding a decent line would make things more predictable but with less total days available. I’ll have to do some experimentation with which type of schedule I can manage best.

I tried the hotel gym Z2 stuff… it’s awful. I may have to start running. Not ideal but at least it’s an aerobic stimulus while not being tied to a squeaky recumbent bike.


I’m current in a short power build phase while I have some guaranteed time to work with. But I think when I go back it’ll have to be like you said. I think between the Garmin load focus and the TR progression levels I will simply have to manage some of the workout focus changes as I go and try to stay somewhat rounded. Like a polarized-jazz fusion training model. Do you find that it’s easier to manage cumulative load using Garmin’s EPOC load system or a TSS/CTL/ATL system for a rolling 6 week lookback?

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I try to not “manage” the load because it is what it is. I use Garmins suggested WO as a suggestion, and see how I feel. In a build phase I do use Garmins functionality as well as tracking in intervals.icu.

Actually, the biggest difference for me was to stop worrying about training plans and trying to fit it all in. And then just do what/when I can, and be surprised at how much fitness can be maintained this way :slight_smile:


I have a similar schedule. What has worked for me is simply using a LV plan, adhering to the best of my capabilities, and filling in with Train Now and Z2 rides on the weeks when I can train 4-6 days. My biggest challenge hasn’t been accommodating the 1 day/7 days/3 days/7 days/etc weeks, but rather allowing for the rest days I still need, and (this may just be me) allowing for recovery from stress (I’m in a very high stress business).

I don’t think there is an ideal strategy, but getting as close to the LV plan and filling in where I can has worked better than anything else I’ve tried.


Do you import TR rides into Garmin?

Do you think it’s better than TrainNow suggestions?

I’d agree, this is pretty similar to what I do. An LV plan, then add in and move around workouts based on my schedule for the week.

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I don’t use TR. And don’t run Garmins workouts(often), however I use them for inspiration on what to do on a given day when I’m not feeling particularly like a specific type of workout.

During limited weeks I’d just do a VO2 max workout and an endurance ride and accept it’s just maintenance that week. Then on other weeks, if they are consecutive, some progressive overload. If not consecutive but you’ve got more days then fit in some additional tempo, threshold, endurance etc as best suits time availability.

Don’t aim for theoretically perfect, just aim for as good as you can manage given constraints. It’s a hobby after all.

Hey there! Welcome to the TR community! :smiley:

It sounds like starting with a Low Volume plan as your outline would be a good idea to begin with.

When you have busy periods where you can only ride a day or two per week, you’ll be able to hammer out a couple of those high-quality sessions found in our LV plans.

Then, when you have more time to train on other weeks, you could supplement your plan with TrainNow workouts or extra low-intensity riding.

We’d advise being cautious with your training plan here and not biting off more than you can chew – even when you have the time to do extra training on the bike. Your days “off” from training won’t truly be restful if you’re at work, and that stress will still impact you.

It sounds like @Barry_Bean and @DavidYYC do something similar – there are plenty of athletes here on the forum who have good advice for balancing training with this kind of busy schedule!


As a student pilot, I aspire to have similar problems some day :rofl:

No kids though.

Awesome! You’ll get there. It’s a long road but definitely worth it. You definitely are able prioritize the life side of the work/life balance once you get where you want to be and accumulate some decent seniority. Good luck!

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