Low volume plan, replacing rides with (usually multiple) shorter versions

I am in the early stages of training for an event in June 2021 (140 Mile sportive in Wales, UK), following a low volume plan using plan builder. Generally, although time is very limited for me, the overall volume throughout the week is manageable, but many days when I have my kids I find jumping into the shed for an hour to turbo less than ideal and at times impossible. As an alternative I’ve been toying with mixing the plan around a bit, shortening some of the rides to 30 minute alternatives which I can squeeze in during a lunch break, and then adding volume by repeating these where I am able to. This means a typical week may have 3-4 30 minute rides instead of the 2 60 minute rides. I’ll adopt a similar approach to the weekend rides on alternate weekends when I have my kids at home with me.

Any views on the benefits or pitfalls of this approach? Or any advice on an alternative way around this? 30 minutes blocks are my easiest option for accessing training consistently; I’m conscious the shorter blocks, although when multiplied add the same or more TSS overall, may limit the training adaptation for longer events, which is my ultimate goal here.

Shortening and spreading your workouts throughout the day is something @Jonathan was doing when he had his baby and the coaches talked about it in the #podcast. I don’t know exactly which episodes they were, but I suggest you search for them, as they talked about it in great detail. I think it might be one of these:
Ask a Cycling Coach - TrainerRoad Podcast - Ask a Cycling Coach: 018 – TrainerRoad Podcast on Stitcher

Ask a Cycling Coach - TrainerRoad Podcast - Ask a Cycling Coach: 85 – TrainerRoad Podcast on Stitcher

If I remember correctly, they soon figured that this approach was not sustainable in the long run, as it has too much impact on your energy levels, fatigue and life in general.
You must also be very wary of the total intensity you do, as doing too much intensity will quickly lead to overtraining. Most of the rides should therefore be low intensity, building the aerobic base. Hope this helps!

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I did 2 a day for the better part of 2 years. I did anywhere from 8-15hr/wk. About 30-90 min per session during the week. Weekends were anywhere from 60min to 3+hr per day, can be 1 a day or 2 a day, but rarely.

To be clear, I didn’t use TR plans.

I would normally have high and low Z2 work, low Z3 work, and upper Z4 work upwards of 40 minute intervals and as low as 8min, varying morning and night. VO2 sessions every other week or so. Regen work would be high Z1/low Z2. endurance Z2 work around 70%, and the rest are intervals of some form.

2 weeks increasing TSS, 1 week regen at lower TSS, but not a huge TSS swing, while progressing overall TSS ramp by week. Ex for illustration purposes: week 1 may be 550 TSS, week 2 625TSS, week 3 400TSS, week 4 610TSS, week 5 675TSS, etc. Ramp rate was moderate, not sharp and not flat. I have to say, I felt strongest during this period. I also did exercise almost 7 days a week. Every now and then would have a rest day, but it was less frequent and irregular.

You need to manage your load and strain accordingly, and progressively overload. I didn’t do a whole lot of “SS” work as defined by TR. I would say more tempo than SS, but would hit the SS part of Z4 now and then, and would hit Z4 (95-105%) intervals more regularly. Some would be 1x intervals, some 2x, and 3x or more if longer. A mix of short and long duration, with intensities to mark hard, and moderate days. If I’m feeling a bit more tired, I might hit a 2x10 instead of a 1x20, for example. Rest between intervals are kept short, maybe 1-2 min.

What I liked about it is that you get some recovery throughout the day, and when you get on it, it’s business and done. Though with all the warmup and warm down, and some regen work. TiZ for Z1 was really high.

Generally, I wouldn’t advise it, unless you have an idea of how you’re going to track. off-the-shelf substitutions, IMO, won’t work well. You have to manage micro-cycles, and really gauge fatigue honestly and not try to hammer SS every session. There will be weeks where you’re just tired, but with a 2on/1off, it’s not extensively so. Tracking time in zone for Z3, Z4, and Z5/6.

That said, doing anything is better than nothing. FWIW, I was also strongest during this period. Timewise, it’s longer, in total. It’s counter-intuitive but you have to shower, and prep, etc. which adds up. But, it fit my schedule better than a long block per day and you miss out on longer work except for weekends.

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I’ve not used them but there are the time crunched plans (specialty —> enthusiast).

If you have only 90-120 minutes weekly to train I’d spend spend two thirds at upper sweet spot and one third at vo2 max. I think it’s impossible to overreach on just 2 hours a week.

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Thanks for this. I listen to the podcasts but couldn’t recall this one ever being discussed - I’ll check the back catalogue. :+1:

Yeah there are and I’ve used them before. They’re a really effective way of gaining/maintaining fitness when time is limited. My issue with these is they’re primarily VO2/HIIT focussed and I’m aiming for a plan more long ride specific. I am still able to do some of the 60-90 minute rides, and want a plan that focusses on these as the ideal, but I’m just trying to work out how best to adapt it on the weeks where I simply cannot achieve that much time away but can still manage the same time on the bike overall.

Thanks for replying :relaxed: