Looking for advice

Hello all,

I am looking for some advice and maybe some experiences that are similar to my own. I am a new father and a resident physician. Despite these two demanding full-time jobs I love training and riding bikes and would like to attempt to build fitness during this time. Given my unpredictable schedule most days (ie, unsure of what time the workday will be done, constant switches between days and nights, extended on-call hours, etc.) I have made a habit of waking up early and training, which has been a success the last ~2 months. The last 3 weeks I have completed SSBLV1 and am now headed into a recovery week! Stoked that I have been able to be consistent with training and have really made a point of consistency lately.

I am concerned, however, that as the intensity starts to ramp up, it will be harder to balance the training stress with the other (unavoidable) stress in my life. I am pretty fatigued from these last 3 weeks and am certainly looking forward to this upcoming recovery week. I have no goal events on the horizon and am more focused on building aerobic fitness as my background in sports involved strength training more-so without a big focus on aerobic development (ie, football, baseball).

I would like to think (?grass is greener) that once I am out of residency I will have a little more time/little less stress and have arrived at that conclusion based on my own observations and chatting with those in my field. At this time I would be more interested in pursuing competition (road, gravel, XCO), however my current situation makes this very difficult (tried 2 years ago before the baby and it was too much on top of everything else).

Currently, I set up an XCO plan on plan builder and was planning on letting AT do its thing and let the chips fall where they may.

Couldn’t help but wonder if the TR forum has any advice on balancing the training stress in a way that allows for long-term, productive development? Would you change my plan at all? More SSBLV and less build/specialty? More or less of something else?

Thank you all in advance!

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Keep doing what you’re doing and follow your plan. However, if it’s been a particularly stressful day or week and you have a planned workout, don’t be afraid to adjust. There’s no point pushing through, you’ll just dig a deeper hole. Either use TrainNow and pick a z2 ride or just take a rest day.


Maybe check out this thread too: Training during medical residency

I don’t know how you folks in the medical field do it. Hats off to you!


The LV plans are typically 3 days with some intensity, right? There is no problem with only doing 1-2 of those rides with intensity and swapping out the others for an endurance ride.

Think of yourself as on an Olympic cycle through residency. The long term goal is aerobic development. Zone 2 endurance rides are where it’s at long term. The best thing is to stay consistent and keep doing those endurance rides.


100% agree here….especially since you don’t have any event goals for the froreseeable future. So I don’t think I would bother with any build programs right now.

Stick with Base programs (or even just use Train Now) and shoot for general improved fitness. Think of it as the world’s longest base period :crazy_face:

You have enough stress….use the bike as an escape from it, not as an addition to it.


All great replies, thank you all.

I think my focus is certainly overall fitness at this point. I guess I’m looking for the “perfect” answer but as well all know it ends up being the enemy of good.

I’ll just keep chipping away and try to build a broad, resilient base with what my schedule allows for and up the intensity if/when the time is right.

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You can definitely train during residency, but you need to temper your expectations and realize that one, your residency training should take priority, and two, that it will get better after residency for most specialties (I’ve been told). I’m a PGY3 and have been training all through residency. I got into cycling in medical school and started racing in 2021 near the end of my intern year. So it is doable. And you can get really good results with low volume training. I hit my all time high FTP last year at 335W on about 6hrs per week. But you really need to be ok with missing training, skipping workouts, and canceling races. And this is from a single guy so you have even more on your plate being a new dad. Here’s what has worked for me.

Low volume plan for sure. Don’t even think about Mid or High volume. My schedule is mostly M-F with 2 weekends off per month. So out of 4 weekends, I’ll usually have a 24hr shift on a Sat and a Sun, and have the other 2 weekends free. Then I’ll have 24hr shifts throughout the month, but nothing is consistent so my schedule changes week to week. I have no control over my schedule, so I’ve learned to be very flexible. I’m always in the mindset to train that day, but some days I’m late at work or just tired from the day. So that’s what I mean by tempering your expectations. Some days you want to train but just can’t, and you have to be okay with it. Don’t beat yourself up over missed workouts because cycling is the cherry on top. There are higher priorities in your life.

During the winter, I plan my key trainer workouts for the weekends when I know I’ll be off and fresh. I try to nail 2 workouts minimum per week, then get that 3rd intensity workout during the week if I can. All the other days are Z2 or nothing. Just depends on when I get off work and how I feel that day. So for example, a week plan might look like a day off Monday, Z2 Tuesday, tentative intensity Wednesday, Z2 Thurs and Fri, Intensity Sat and Sun. But then I get in the week and Wednesday I have to stay late, so I push the workout to Thursday. Or I get off early Tuesday and feel good, so I do it then to bank the work so to speak. Some weeks I have late days all week and barely get to ride at all, so I go all in Sat and Sun. Just be flexible. Rarely, if ever, does a week pan out like I plan it.

Other tips. I prepare all my bottles for the week on Sat or Sun. Get the drink mixes ready to go and in the fridge so I just have to grab and go. Same with kit, wash and dry everything on the weekend so I always have kit ready. You can even leave your kit on the bike ready to go so you just change and hop on. Have music or entertainment ready, have your devices charged. Minimize any barrier to training that day. Fuel as best you can throughout the day with a good amount of carbs. Do not try to train hungry, it never ends well. I love a PB&J sandwich in early afternoon to give me some fuel for a late afternoon/evening workout. I try to hop on the bike as soon as I get home, so I’m also usually eating on the drive home. I literally park, change, grab a bottle and go. No excuses, no time wasting. Hopefully with med school, you’ve learned how to maximize your time. It’s all about minimizing time wasted. Whether that’s trying to pick a workout or deciding if you feel like riding that day. If anything, hop on and ride Z2 and see how you feel while you’re debating. My success has come from being very meticulous with the very limited free time I have.

Another added bonus is studying on Z2 rides. Studies have shown increased retention with mild exercise. So on those easy days, sometimes I’ll load up a podcast or video lecture and watch it. They’re boring, but it’s just an added bonus while training. When I used to lift in med school, I’d do flash cards in between sets. You can try something similar between intervals, but anything above sweetspot I can’t think and just need to recover, so maybe just Z2 days.

Last thing is races. I pick out races that I want to do, but sometimes they fall through because I have to work. I try to request call days on certain days to let me race, but again, cycling is the dessert so I understand I can’t always race. Look into race insurance or email the race director. I’ve emailed race directors saying that I want to signup, but I’m a medical resident so my schedule is flexible and ask about their refund policy. You’d be surprised how many times they’ve assured me that I can signup with a refund guarantee if I need it. Early registration helps them out so most are willing to work with you. If not, you can always think of it as a donation to your local racing association.

Hope this helps. I ramble sometimes and get scatterbrain so hopefully it makes sense. Let me know if you have any other questions.


The perfect answer is consistency. Get on the bike 3-4X per week even if it’s just 20 minutes of Z2 on the trainer. Do 1-2 harder workouts per week and focus the rest on aerobic endurance. It’s really very easy.


What specialty are you training in?. As a now retired general surgeon, there was no way I could train during residency. This was back in the days before the rules required limited time in the hospital. My first stint during internship lasted 3 days, before i got home. I recommend, not training, but simply trying to maintain what you have until there is more time and less stress in your life. I actually cut short my racing career in my mid 50’s due to job stress, long after residency

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Maybe look into doing traditional base instead. I find that I can do a lot more endurance riding than HIT, especially when other things in life are also stressfull. Even if that isn’t for you, switching out some of the workouts for endurance ones when you’re feeling tired might help.

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I’m a PGY-1 with a widely variable schedule that does a lot of q4 call (I’m also med-peds, so every three months I need to remember a different type of medicine). I’ve had a lot of success this year with planning for 1-2 key workouts per week and Z2/Z3 prn the rest of the week when I have time. My FTP has gone from 338 to 360 since starting residency. I don’t adhere to a specific schedule because of the variability in leaving the hospital; instead, I know what I want to accomplish during the week and I achieve it when my schedule allows. I would get too irritated with missing specifically planned workouts if I had them on my calendar.

I look ahead on my schedule and when I have lighter rotations, I plan for hammering volume. Those lighter rotations are often followed by intensive rotations; the schedule almost forces periodization. I’m currently on a light rotation and doing 15-20 hours/week, but starting in March, I’m in the NICU with call, so that means I’m pulling back. If you’re race-oriented, picking disciplines that do not require massive volume would be beneficial. Because I am not a smart man, I’m signed up for Unbound and Steamboat this summer :joy:.

Props to you for getting up early and on the bike. I have to be in sometime between 6 and 7 most days, and waking at before 5 to ride just doesn’t work for me. I think one key is discuss with your partner protected time for your riding so expectations are clear regarding work, child care, and play. I try to communicate my plans with my partner well in advance of them happening (and I don’t have a kid!).

When I started, I tried to tell myself that training was a bonus to doing the job. I’ve realized that it isn’t a bonus: I’m a better doctor/person/partner when I have time to ride.

10/10 I’m currently preparing for Step 3 and have done >50% of my UWorld questions on the trainer. I’ll also prep clinic notes on the trainer and read up on patients the night before going in on the trainer. (also, while Step 3 isn’t really a big deal, being done with it should be rewarded with a new bike, right???)


Damn, I wish I could get that many hours in. With my schedule (I can count on 1 hand the number of weeks with under 60 hours at work), the most I’ve gotten is 11 hours on the bike. Hoping that attending life I’ll be able to cut back on work hours.

Also, those are amazing numbers during residency. I’m hoping to break 350 by next year.

Thanks! 335 on 6 hr/wk is super strong though! :muscle:t3:

I’ve been most pleased that I haven’t totally nuked the kg side of W/kg. I eat a ton on nights to stay awake but I’ve been weight neutral.

Each of us has a “stress reservoir” and our body doesn’t know if that stress comes from lack of sleep, environmental, from training, from the job… You said it is already starting to wear on you. I would take out a “hard workout” and replace with endurance. Let your body adapt to more intensity slowly. Rather than starting with 3 and having to back off if it is too much it is better to start with 2 and add if it is not enough.

Too often I think people see that it is “in the plan” and so feel like they have to follow it. Adjust it to meet your needs, you will be better off for it.

I love Train Now. When I have time, I plug in how much time I have and hop on to an intelligently selected workout based on where I am at any given time. If I am a little bit whipped, I dial it back or pick a smaller timespan for the work out. It’s great for an irregular and compressed schedule. My FTP continues rise