Using my hilly commute as part of my training

So… I have a commute that is 22km in and 30km back. The difference is due to a specific tight road that I am happy to ride down but driver patience isn’t worth the risk due to the tight bends on the way up.

The route in has a 2.8km, 185m climb @6.5% that I reach 2km into the ride with a 3.1km, 255m @-8.2% drop within 2-3 mins of reaching the top of the initial climb. As a total, the route has 335m elevation slight undulation outside of that climb and has a few traffic lights.

The route out has a 3.3km, 234m climb @7.1% that I reach 17km into the ride with a 2.8km, 185m climb @-6.5% drop that is easy to use as part of a warm down with only 2km to my house. As a total, the route has 464m elevation with undulation outside of that climb and has a few traffic lights at the start of the ride.

Now I know this is super specific!! I ride between 3-4 times a week with Fridays working from home (Sometimes a Monday WFH) I can stay in Z2 up those hills but it does take a little time to get up them :-). I can ride Sat and Sun within reason and around personal plans. My target for the year is to ride 12,000km+, race crits, road races in June-August. Racing in the veteran (51) races.

Any pointers on how I should use the commutes for training? Thank you in advance

I sometimes do workouts on my commute, My main commute is 20km in and 18km back (there’s also 6.5km either side of a train journey) its a reasonably undulating commute (151m in the morning and 158m at night). I don’t have a PM on the commuter and I do stuff instead on RPE (occasionally correlated with HR). I wouldn’t want to be staring at a PM in traffic anyway, although it is mostly rural. I set my workouts to 45mins and I do them on the longer AM commute in the section out of town as its mainly in the light and its easier to loop away from the finish town if I need to make it longer. (If I was time constrained for work I’d do them after instead). It tends to be Z2/ recovery commutes at this time of year (UK winter) and in summer I may do harder stuff if the roads are clean in the summer (untill then I keep the intense stuff for indoors). Its not as extreme as your commute though :slight_smile:

We’re moving offices soon though so I’ll have to come up with something new :smiley:


Good luck with the new route when the office change happens. I am in Portland Oregon (I am from the UK though) the weather is pretty much Manchester esque in autumn, winter and spring until the summer when it is so much better that Manchester. The way home for me would be a better option for training (I have Garmin PM pedals on the commuter) + the initial climb is easier to stay Z2. Thanks for the details/thoughts. All makes complete sense :slight_smile: :+1:

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Hey there and welcome to the TR community! :smiley:

If you’re already following a plan and have dedicated times where you get your structured interval sessions done, we’d advise keeping the commutes as easier Zone 2 rides.

If you’re looking to work intervals into your commute, that can work, too!

In the past, I’ve worked jobs where I’d ride to work in the morning and then back home at the end of the day. I’d usually wake up early so I’d have plenty of time to do structured work (if it was an interval day), bang out the training session, and then keep the rest of the commute to work (and then back home) easy.

Ultimately, scheduling in those more important sessions will come down to what works best for you – some athletes prefer to hit their workouts later on in the day after work rather than early in the morning beforehand.

Coincidentally, I used to live in Portland, OR, and would commute across town about 10 miles from where I lived in each direction for a while. I was lucky enough to be able to make the commute mostly on bike paths, so in that instance, I kept my commuter miles as extra easy riding.

Hope that gives you some food for thought! Feel free to let us know if you have any additional questions.


thanks for the details @ZackeryWeimer, with you being aware of PDX, I live over in Bethany and ride up to skyline and down Germantown the St Johns Bridge before heading to town.

I am always wondering if feeling fresh in the morning is a better time for intervals because even a Z2 ride means that 9hours later and after a busy day, are you getting the best out of the intervals. Afternoon intervals work better for my journey/fueling/home quicker etc but not sure if that creates the best conditions for improvement.

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No problem! Happy to help. :+1:

That line of thinking you mentioned about being fresher in the morning is the approach that I personally preferred taking – I found it easier to wake up with all my kit, bottles, nutrition, etc. laid out and ready to go first thing so that I could relax a bit more during the day knowing that the hard training was already done.

Everyone has different preferences though, so it could be worth trying both approaches to see what works best for you!


It’s not clear to me if you go over St Johns and work on the east side, but if it’s workable for you to get back to Bethany via Thomson on interval days, it’s a great hill for steady efforts. It’s quiet and perfect for repeats. I’m talking about the section going from Cornell up to Skyline. Just over 8mn for me with very regular incline.

(Hi @ZackeryWeimer )

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The stats for your climbs sound a bit like the street I live on: 3.87km of road that gains 232m altitude at ~6% (varying 4.5% to 10%). I use this for my threshold & VO2 max TR workouts that have recovers at or under 50% FTP. I finish 9-minute over-under intervals with more than a km of road to spare. I generally prefer to do commutes in active recovery zone, & I’ve geared my commuter appropriately, but on some trips home I’ve knocked out a few hill repeat intervals. For me the duration of bike commutes with a tacked-on workout is not that different from driving then doing a separate workout.
If you get bored doing endurance riding on the way to work then maybe you could knock off a threshold interval or a few VO2 max intervals, or even a whole workout if you have time & there’s room to turn safely. Same possibilities for the outbound commute, but maybe with more options given the longer lead-in & greater altitude gain. What’s the profile of the road approaching the climb? Any traffic signals/devices near the base of the climb? I’m thinking of the potential for sweetspot efforts with the last finishing near the top of the climb.

Sounds like you’ve got two hills long enough for sweet spot or threshold intervals. Find alternates in your plan that might give you two long intervals.

I try to do it occasionally but it’s pretty difficult and frustrating with the traffic and route I have. Generally I try to ride them easy (overall) as a light endurance. Trying to implement progressive overload wouldn’t be feasible imo.

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