Riding to work = junkmiles?


I have been riding to work by bike for the last few month and am on a MV Polarized Plan at the moment.

But does that make sense from a training perspective to ride to work by bike? My legs feel more and more fatigued and my Garmin says there is no training benefit as it’s across town, so a lot of traffic and traffic lights. Low Intensity.
But even these rides they will generate some fatigue as it’s roughly 13k one way on an old mtb.

I think if I stop riding to work by bike I can maybe fit in one more quality Z2 session or go for a run and feel less fatigue.

Does that make sense or are these regular slow rides through the city contributing anything useful I’m missing?

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Think it al depends on how hard you ride. If they add up to so much extra fatigue that you can’t complete your workouts then yeah, maybe change your method of transportation. Or, ride even slower so they at least don’t hurt your workouts.

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Personally I think that as long as you’re riding less than 10-12 hours per week, any riding you do will be beneficial.

Make sure they’re low intensity so you remain fresh for your key sessions though.


You say it’s low intensity, but as it’s an old MTB I guess you don’t have a power meter? I have a fairly rural commute, but whenever I’m riding through/across areas with traffic, roundabouts or stop lights my power spikes are substantial. You’re probably going harder than you think.

Commuting can be very useful, but you need to either be really really strict about keeping the power low to make it real Z2, or be doing your interval workouts one way and riding at recovery on the other. Both of those options are easier with a power meter, and may require some re-routing to have appropriate roads or junctions.


Without power, your Garmin really has no way of telling if it’s beneficial to you. Before I put a power meter on my MTB it consistently said I was “Unproductive” riding 8-10 hours a week going off RPE.

PM pedals you can swap on and off your trainer bike and commuter bike is really the best way to know what you’re doing. My commute miles are absolutely crucial to me getting 10+ hours a week in.

Hey @svolkmann! Looks like you already figured things out with Rossouw in the Support Team :slight_smile:

I think stopping the rides to work, which by looking at your ride files seems to have its fair share of intensity even if you are riding conservatively, and adding one run and a second real rest day will help you figure out if those rides were preventing you from getting the rest you needed to complete the structured workouts.

No such thing as “junk miles.” Your body is being stressed, thus the fatigue.

There’s more to this question too. If you don’t commute are you going to find those extra minutes and put into structured training that day? Does it help you shed stress and unwind at the end of the day? Is the bike commute stressful due to the traffic and you don’t feel safe?

If you like doing it… keep doing it. This is probably crazy talk around here but maybe turn off the watch and just ride?


Like @Jolyzara mentioned, sound like your body is being stressed. So it’s worth assessing other outside factors as well in your life that may be causing fatigue, such as not getting enough sleep or not eating enough, maybe stress at work…

Worst thing I did for my fitness/health/training was giving up the commute, I wouldn’t do it again, it just adds time on the bike,

I feel that TR pulls you to much to the interval is the most important thing and you must sacrificy everything in order to achieve doing the interval, after listening th Dr Seiler talk about polarised training, the big take away for me has been to ride as much as you can, and add in as much interval training that you can repeat the following week NOT the other way round (do as much intervals as you can, and then do what ever else you can, but not at the expense of the intervals) … I’m having a bit of revival at the moment, and enjoying my cycling again (which is the most important thing)

Sorry if I went off on a tangent


My opinion, and experience, is that it’s the only ride/ workout I will be getting the days I’m in the office.

I do find 2 a days can be harder work, but probably still less overall stress than trying to do a workout before a train commute*. I’m trying hard to keep to not above zone 2 (having previously just rode to feel), and it doesn’t seem as taxing. I’ve started thinking of n+1 (seriously), so will probably upgrade the commuter as part of that process.

*For me, the alternative is the train (same drive from home as my bike commute). This is not a zero stress option. It’s more steps, I usually have to stand both ways, on a crowded train (so virus risks) - non-exercise activity up a lot. Also, I’ve been caught with delays/ cancellations. Basically, even if it was junk miles (which I don’t believe), I’m still overall better for the fresh air under my own steam before or after a days work stress! I think this can really be underestimated when looking purely from a training perspective.


N=1 here: My FTP spikes with volume. My volume spikes (or remains “high”) with commutes. 10.6Km for me, no hills, lots of stop signs and a couple of lights…

If I gave up the twice a day, 28 minutes x 4 or 5 days per week, there is absolutely no way I’d find time for those 4-5 hours elsewhere in my life. As in, if I drove to work, those 4-5 hours of riding would up and vanish like a fart in the wind.

Those 4-5 hours for me are more valuable from a volume perspective than trying to hit a MV plan exactly. I default to LV and if the other responsibilities column gets really light, I sometimes bump up to MV… While on LV, I try to add either 15-20 minutes of spinning to some rides, or go from a 60 minute to a 75 minute workout when the time allows.

As far as Garmin telling you how to train… pick a coach, a program, or a plan and learn your body, and ignore Garmin’s inputs on “recovery time.” I’d ride every third day, at most, if I listened to my Garmin. I’ve had hard in-bound commutes (6.5 miles) where Garmin gave me a 36 or 48 hour recovery time… Uh, how am I supposed to get home, Mr. Garmin?